thoughtomation

removing the "mis" from information

Monday, July 12, 2004

On the Leadership, or lack thereof, of the Palestinian Arabs

In a discussion on beliefnet.com, I encountered the following response in a discussion about the Israel/Arab conflict, about the troubling problem of "innocent" Palestinians who are at the mercy of both the corrupt Palestinian Authority and the Israel Defense Force. It is a very good question, and it defies an easy answer:

"There are plenty of innocent Palestinians who want nothing more than to be left alone so that they can put food on the family table and a roof over their heads. What these people lack is a political leadership who are more concerned about their welfare than they are about the desire to do Israel and Israelis harm."


The problem is that the Arabs who do want to go about their lives peacefully are vastly outnumbered by those who prefer to wallow in misery if it gets them war. The people who want to live in peace need to get out of the territories now before Arafat dies and the Palestinian Civil War begins. They are caught in tragic circumstances; while I would like to see justice done for these people, the leaders of Palestinian society make it impossible. These people, however, are not Israel's responsibility; Israel has a responsibility to its own people.

The important question is: how does a positive change in Palestinian leadership occur? I don't see any sequence of events in which a peace-loving Palestinian becomes the leader. The coming war between the Palestinian factions will almost ensure that the new leader is a corrupt, brutal thug, just like Arafat.

If there is some way in which a legitimate leader of the Palestinian people could be recognized, then it would change the character of the situation completely. Israel would finally have a real representative of the Palestinian people - one accountable to his own people - with whom to negotiate. Good faith could be extended to such a person.

But how is that person going to get into that position? There is no Arab tradition of representative government! And that is the core problem of trying to do justice for the individual Palestinian... they are not represented, therefore there is no way for anyone to truly know what the Palestinian people really want, and what compromises they are prepared to make. Knowing what a dictator like Arafat wants is not the same thing.

If such a leader could be found among the Arabs, it would be a truly wondrous event, and this terrible dispute would be ended in short order. Let me know how I can help them get from here to there! Until then, however, we need to face what is real - that the individual Arab is suffering because of the choices of their leadership, and also because of their own choice not to rise up, depose that leadership, and install new leaders who truly represent them.

Circumstances are sometimes such that you don't have the choice to keep your head down and go about your business. Choosing not to decide is still making a choice. And if the Arabs who want peace do not choose to overthrow their leader and replace him with someone who wants peace, then they must live with the consequences of that decision, however unfair it may seem.

1 Comments:

  • At Wednesday, August 11, 2004 12:35:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The final paragraph: "Circumstances are sometimes such that you don't have the choice to keep your head down and go about your business. Choosing not to decide is still making a choice. And if the Arabs who want peace do not choose to overthrow their leader and replace him with someone who wants peace, then they must live with the consequences of that decision, however unfair it may seem." I don't see that as unfair at all. If there are any Arabs who want peace, they haven't shown themselves. Some have spoken, sure; but, have you seen what they say in the original Arabic? Enough already!

    "Elisheba"

     

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