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The Most Wrecked People on Earth

April 10, 2006

If I were a Palestinian, I’d occasionally wonder what I had to do to get a bad press.

Elect a terrorist government explicitly committed to the destruction of Israel? No, no, no, don’t jump to conclusions, explains Bill Clinton. It’s just a vote for better municipal services.

Send my daughter to explode in an Israeli restaurant? Oh, well, shrug the experts, it’s an act born of “desperation” and “frustration.” You have to remember Palestinians don’t have any tanks, so they have to make do with what the mayor of London’s favorite imam calls “the children bomb.”

So the events of March 14th are no surprise. Under something called the 2002 Ramallah Agreement, various Palestinian prisoners were being held at a jail in Jericho under the supervision of American and British monitors. The jailbirds were wanted by Israel for the murder of a cabinet minister in 2001, but in order to keep “the peace process” “on track” Ariel Sharon had been prevailed upon to agree to this carefully brokered international agreement permitting the men to remain under the care of the Palestinian Authority.

Then Hamas gets elected and decides it’s not going to honor this agreement and, with the prisoners’ day of liberation at hand, things get a bit sticky at the jail for the Anglo-American supervisors.

So one Tuesday the British team on duty tell the Palestinians they’re off to get the car fixed, and no sooner have they gone than an Israeli team swoop in, seize the men, and announce they’ll be tried back in the Zionist Entity. When the Palestinian locals find out, they react in the usual way — torching the British Council offices in Gaza, etc.

Back in London, the media were outraged. At the Brits, that is. The Guardian’s Seumas Milne blamed foreign secretary Jack Straw for “the humiliation of the Palestinian president” and “the undermining of efforts to form a viable Palestinian administration” and “the seizure of an elected political leader regarded by many Palestinians as a national hero.” On this last point, Mr. Milne conceded, sotto voce, that Ahmad Saadat was wanted for murder, but the murder in question was only that of an Israeli “racist cabinet minister.” Anyway, after this episode, “Britain cannot plausibly be regarded as an honest broker in the region.” Which must be bewildering to Her Majesty’s Government, which under Mr. Blair has been only marginally less of a dishonest broker than the unashamedly pro-Palestinian Continentals.

Abbas Momani/AFP

The assumptions behind press coverage of the “Middle East peace process” make a fascinating study. On one hand, we’re told that the Palestinians “deserve” a state (which is a decadent postmodern concept of sovereignty: The United States doesn’t exist because the colonists “deserved” a state but because they went out and fought for one). On the other hand, everything they do makes clear that they’re absolutely undeserving and are incapable of operating one. It was Hamas who decided to abrogate unilaterally the Ramallah Agreement, but needless to say no blame attaches to the Palestinians for this or any other infraction.

At the time of his death, for example, “President” Yasser Arafat was in something like the tenth year of his five-year term of office, yet Europeans still complained that, in the words of Sir Simon Jenkins, “America refused to acknowledge Yasser Arafat as a democrat.” As for the female suicide bomber who tried to blow up the Israeli hospital whose doctors had treated her, and the new Hamas Member of Parliament best known for her inspirational video in which she instructs her remaining children (three of six having self-detonated) how to kill Jews, and all the other exemplars of Palestinian “nationalism,” each new depravity by definition only proves how terrible the Israelis must be to drive people to such things.

Maybe. But it would seem more likely that, insofar as anything “drives” you to child sacrifice, it’s being absolved of all responsibility for one’s actions, and being treated like a child oneself for 60 years. The Palestinian people are the acme of internationalism — that’s to say, they’re the only people on the face of the earth with their own U.N. agency, and, after six decades in their care, they are now the most comprehensively wrecked people on the face of the earth.

They didn’t get that way by accident. Way back when, hard as it is to recall, they were a reasonably conventional ethnocultural movement promoted in relatively conventional ways — by the tanks and jets of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, etc. But the region’s thugs eventually figured out that Western indulgence of Palestinian depravity was more effective than the crack troops of Glubb Pasha’s Arab Legion could ever be.

I wonder how far they can push that. After the London bombings, the city’s wretched mayor, Ken Livingstone, found himself having to explain why suicide bombing on Israeli buses is a legitimate act but suicide bombing on Piccadilly buses isn’t. The old joke about British Palestine was that it was the twice-promised land: Hence, today a Western democracy and a disaffected Muslim population exist in two solitudes on the same piece of real estate.

But doesn’t that sum up Europe, too? And what happens when, say, Iran starts spreading a little terror startup money through France and the Netherlands the way they’ve done in Lebanon and Gaza? What would it take to persuade a European Muslim to blow himself up in an Amsterdam gay bar? Given the changes in the nature of Palestinian “resistance” these last 20 years, that’s a question Europeans ought to be asking. In one of history’s better jests, in the remaking of the Continent they’re the new Jews.

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