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Between democracy & anarchy by Moshe Arens




Published on September 16, 2014


The Arabs who resided in the area of western Palestine, which was mandated by the League of Nations for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people, for many years considered themselves, and were considered by the rest of the world as well, as simply belonging to the Arab nation. For the past 50 years they have generally been recognized as members of the Palestinian nation.


Unlike the Syrians and the Iraqis, the Palestinians at the moment are alive and kicking as a nation, demanding the right to establish a state of their own, a Palestinian state, and to a seat at the United Nations, a privilege still accorded to the Syrians and the Iraqis, but possibly not for long.


So how have they fared compared to their Arab cousins, the Syrians and the Iraqis? Although their representatives complain that the Palestinians are denied the self-determination they consider their right, and that they are under occupation and are being oppressed – they have little reason to envy their cousins in Syria and Iraq. Their heads are literally rolling. Hundreds are being massacred daily, and hundreds of thousands have fled for their lives.


Israeli Palestinians envied by all other Arabs

The state of the Palestinians depends on where they are located. The Palestinians living in Israel, citizens of a democratic state in which the rule of law prevails, may have reasons to complain, to bewail the catastrophe they insist befell them at the hand of the Jews 66 years ago, but they must surely be envied by Arabs living in any of the Arab countries, most certainly by those who have the misfortune of residing in Syria and Iraq. Some of them may even admit in their heart of hearts that the catastrophe was one of their own making.


The Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria, who live under Israeli “occupation,” encountering roadblocks as they travel around the country, and who know that these encumbrances are the direct result of the wave of terror the Palestinians unleashed against the Jewish civilian population some years ago, probably do not envy their Arab cousins in Iraq and Syria, and would certainly not want to exchange places with them.


Would they prefer Hamas rule to Israeli “occupation,” and exchange places with their brothers in the Gaza Strip? Not likely. They probably envy the advantages enjoyed by their Palestinian brethren residing in Israel on the other side of the 1949 armistice lines, and if given the choice might even decide to join them.


The Palestinians residing in East Jerusalem actually have that choice – they can opt for Israeli citizenship, and some of them have done so. The rest are entitled to many of the social and health services available to Israeli citizens. If given the choice of remaining under Israeli sovereignty or living in a Palestinian state, the polls indicate that the majority would prefer to continue in Israel.


Worst off are Palestinians living in Gaza

Worst off are the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. Although nominally living under Palestinian sovereignty, they suffer from the unkind rule of Hamas, a terrorist organization, and from ravages of Hamas-Israeli belligerency whenever Hamas decides to rocket Israeli towns and villages. They might well feel that their brethren in Judea and Samaria are better off than they.


What would the state of the Palestinians be if the aim of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip were to become reality? Would it be a democratic state in which the rule of law prevails – or would it shortly degenerate into sectarian and tribal violence, into a state of anarchy like the one that characterizes Syria and Iraq these past few years?


If that is their future, the Palestinians really do not have much to look forward to.


  • Moshe Arens visited SA last year. He entered the political arena in 1973 and has, since, served as Foreign Minister, three times as Defence Minister and Israeli Ambassador to the US. Arens writes a column for Haaretz and serves as chairman of the Board of Governors of Ariel University.

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