Violence and Rejectionism at the Heart of Palestinian “Land Day” Show (COMMENTARY MAGAZINE) Jonathan S. Tobin 03/30/12)
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Today’s “Land Day” demonstrations at various places in the West Bank,
Jerusalem and the Gaza border, as well as a march on the Israeli-
Lebanese border, are all intended to bring attention to the
Palestinian campaign against Israel and to increase international
sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians. But the violent nature
of the protests and the demands raised by those participating give
the lie to the notion that any of this has anything to do with the
cause of Middle East peace.
By flinging rocks at Israeli forces in the hope that they will
respond with deadly force, the Palestinians are playing their usual
game in which they hope to sacrifice some of their youth in exchange
for damaging the reputation of the Jewish state. More to the point,
should anyone actually be listening to what they are screaming, the
Palestinians and their foreign cheerleaders are also making it clear
their goal is Israel’s destruction.
“Land Day” is an annual event that commemorates a dispute over the
property of some Arab villages that turned violent in the 1970s. But
it is no civil libertarian holiday. As today’s demonstrations have
once again reminded us, the goal of the Palestinian street as well as
those foreigners who parachute into the country to help stir the
point on the issue, is to promote the “right of return” by which
Arabs hope to flood the Jewish state with the descendants of the 1948
Many of Israel’s critics — including those Jews who pose as Zionists
while preaching boycotts and sanctions that give cover to a rising
tide of anti-Semitic incitement around the globe — ignore what the
Palestinians say they want and instead, pretend that the dispute is
about borders and settlements. But as today’s events illustrate, they
have but minimal interest in the Jewish communities in the West Bank,
the vast majority of which are near the 1967 lines. Instead, they are
focused on the nature of the Jewish state itself. The Land Day
extravaganza is about an attempt to reverse the verdict of 1948, not
to place an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.
Moreover, despite the fact that the Palestinians are constantly
talking about transforming the conflict by adopting the non-violent
protest methods of Gandhi, the nature of their political culture is
such that they appear incapable of doing so. Violence is always a
given at these events.
That is due in part to the desire of the organizers to create a new
batch of martyrs to be celebrated so as to blacken Israel’s name. As
accounts of today’s events make clear, the whole point is to create
theatre for the cameras of the international press.
But the violence is also a function of Palestinian politics that has
unfortunately always valued the spilling of blood over anything else.
This is also related to the plain fact that Palestinian nationalism
came into existence in the 20th century as a reaction to Zionism
rather than as part of a national cultural revival as was the case
with other modern national cultures. This negative impulse is why
recognition of Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state is something no
Palestinian leader can accept. It is also why violence against Jews
and Israel is still the only way for such leaders to establish their
own bona fides.
The “Land Day” show will accomplish nothing for the Palestinians
except to further confirm the dead-end path of violence and
confrontation in which they are stuck. If their foreign friends wish
to help them, they could do so by ceasing to support these pointless
exercises in violence and to begin coming to terms with the
permanence of the Jewish state.
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