Friday, January 06, 2012

Arab Spring? Palestinian Leaders Like Things Just The Way They Are!

Prof. Hillel Frisch, a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, has written a paper--The Palestinians are Part of the Old Arab Order.

He describes how the Palestinian Arabs continue to align themselves with the worst dictators of the Arab world, while their own governments in the West Bank and Gaza emulate the worst practices of the regimes of the old Arab order. They conduct themselves as one-party police-states, suppressing both the opposition and the media. While Palestinian Arabs demand the right to self-determination for themselves, they deny it to others.

Frisch writes:

Many have wondered since the begnning of the Arab upheavals why the Palestinians have not taken part in the hoped-for 'Arab Spring.' The answer is that with the positions they hold today, the Palestinians are an integral part of the old Arab order, and therefore are unable to participate in a democratic, tolerant Arab renaissance.

The Palestinians are part of the old Arab order because time and time again they have extolled the Arab leaders who make up the old Arab order and aligned themselves with the worst dictators of the Arab world.

With overwhelming Palestinian public support, PLO leader Yasser Arafat, risked international isolation and condemnation for himself, his people and his movement in order to support Saddam Hussein’s occupation of Kuwait. Saddam was the most brutal leader of the old Arab order. (After their liberation from Saddam, the Kuwaitis expelled over 100,000 Palestinians in retaliation for eager Palestinian cooperation in suppressing Kuwaiti citizens.)

This is the same Arafat, the same PLO, and the same Palestinian People who today rail against Israeli 'occupation.'
After reviewing the support of Palestinian Arabs for Muslim dictators and the suppression of their citizens, Frisch examines what passes for the current Palestinian Arab leadership:

Both Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority and the Hamas government in Gaza are cut from the same cloth as the regimes of the old Arab order. They are one-party police-states whose main line of business is suppressing the opposition, incarcerating political prisoners, and denying media freedoms to the opposition. The rump parliaments in both the West Bank and Gaza have been moribund since the outbreak of Palestinian civil war in 2006.

The PLO itself is the ultimate example of the old Arab order. The dozen or more factions that constitute the PLO are over forty years old; yet in none of them has leadership change taken place except through the natural or unnatural death of the leader. The same can be said of the relatively younger Islamist Jihad al-Islami and Hamas movements. There is no internal democracy in these groups.

Remember: More than anything, the Arab upheavals of the past year are about instituting a change of leadership in the Arab world. The Palestinians are having none of that.

Frisch concludes on an optimistic note:
Does all this mean that the Palestinians are doomed, and barred from the promise of an Arab spring?

Not necessarily. Palestinians could begin a promising journey towards a democratic renaissance by acknowledging the rights they demand from Israel and the world to others. They could, for example, support the right to self-determination of the Kurdish, the Berber and the Jewish peoples, including recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Palestinians could and should take a stand against the oppression of Egypt’s Copts. They could and should renounce Arab national movements that betray these principles. They could and should become a voice for civil rights if and when the new Islamist regimes in the Arab world begin to deny these rights to their minorities.

Without question, the journey to a Palestinian democratic spring is long and arduous. Fortunately, the Palestinians have an example nearby of a democratic and prosperous state worthy of emulation – Israel.
But to claim, as the Palestinian Arabs and their supporters do, that they are ready for an actual state now is deny the daily reality of the hatred, corruption and incompetence that we regularly see emanating from the Palestinian leadership.

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