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Palestinians Must Reject Rejectionism To Achieve Peace – OpEd


Even before details of President Donald Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan is released, Palestinian leaders and activists have already declared it “dead on arrival.”

Palestinians strenuously argue the plan will fail. They oppose Trump’s call for Arab Gulf states to invest billions into the economically devastated Gaza Strip as a strategy to further divide Palestinians.

Reinforced by America’s UN Ambassador Nikki Haley’s blindness to Israel’s atrocities against Gazan civilians, and the Trump administration’s unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, one can understand why Palestinians have no faith in the US as a fair peace arbiter.

But Palestinians can’t blame everything on the US administration, or even Israel’s hard-line government. They need to recognize their own failures. Palestinians have failed to define a strategy to achieve their vision of two states because Palestinians can’t see past their own suffering. They have no alternative to rejectionism.

The last Palestinian to formulate a solution was the late President Yasser Arafat, though he was stymied by the Palestinian public’s anger and inability to embrace the concept of compromise over the issue of the right of return. He was also stymied by Israeli fanatics who murdered his peace partner, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

In fairness to Arafat’s feeble successor, Mahmoud Abbas, there is no Israeli peace partner. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is an extremist with a brilliant mind for deceptive strategic thinking, or dissimulation.

Ask the Palestinians, what is their plan? They have none. Instead of talking about peace, Palestinians are rejecting proposals that haven’t even been proposed yet. Rejectionism is like that — a state of mind in which nothing is acceptable, and compromise is non-existent.

Maybe that’s the problem. Palestinians are justified in decrying Israel’s heinous atrocities. Shooting innocent and unarmed civilians in the head is an international war crime. But Israel’s government didn’t just start violating international law; it has been ignoring it for years. However, rather than complain about the moral parameters of the international laws that they violate on a daily basis, the Israelis have instead crafted a posture of dissimulation.

Israel seeks to expel non-Jews (Christians and Muslims) from the Holy Land. That is their long-term game plan. But Israelis don’t publicize their true goals in emotional outbursts, protests and acts of violence. They implement their goals with deceit. They have adopted 65 specific laws to undermine the human rights of Palestinians, but they conceal the intent of those laws. They are introducing more restrictions, including punishing those who film Israeli soldiers killing unarmed Palestinians. They seek to punish institutions that express sympathy for the Palestinian Nakba (or catastrophe), and are seeking to expel Arab Knesset members who challenge Israel’s racist policies.

Israel’s public call for peace is in a vacuum without sound or substance. Its cries about Palestinian violence are loud but morally bankrupt. Israeli suffering is nothing in comparison to the violence and carnage Israel commits against Palestinians.

Just look at the numbers. Using the Jewish Virtual Library, a biased anti-Arab source, data shows that nearly four times as many Arabs have been killed than Israelis since the 1920s. Palestinian and international human rights groups put the number of Arabs killed even higher. In recent years, the disparity has been even greater, with 9,600 Palestinians killed since the collapse of the peace process in 2000, compared with 1,251 Israelis.

Despite aberrations, Israel manages to disguise its dissimulation through strategic communications, public relations spin and clever rhetoric, making the lesser number of Israelis killed seem more important. Israeli deaths certainly get more media coverage than Palestinian deaths, but Israel argues the disparity in numbers killed is meaningless.

If the tables were turned, however, Israel would not do what Palestinians are doing. Instead of denouncing US’ plans, Israelis would embrace it, while mounting an effective public relations campaign to expose its flaws. They would not allow themselves to become the obstacle preventing the public from seeing the truth. They would not rely on protests, extremist rhetoric and emotional outbursts to define themselves. Neither should the Palestinians.

When Trump outlines a plan to invest billions into the Gaza Strip to bolster its devastated economy, Palestinians should welcome it. When Trump urges compromise on Jerusalem, Palestinians should convey the obvious shortcomings in a reasoned and effective PR campaign. When Trump calls for peace, Palestinians should focus on the bigger picture and define themselves as peacemakers, calling Israel’s bluff. Put Israel in the position of publicly saying no to peace.

Don’t reject Trump’s peace plan, declare it a “good start.” Show the face of reason while pushing down the face of extremism and rejection.

Don’t just speak out against Israeli violence; speak out against Palestinian violence and extremism as well. Extremist Palestinian rhetoric has been exploited by Israel as a cover, allowing it to commit and justify its own atrocities.

Palestinians must change how they are perceived and stop being predictable, doing what everyone knows they will do when presented with an unacceptable peace plan. What Palestinians must do is embrace Trump’s efforts and recast themselves as champions of peace. Palestinians should meet with Trump and his biased pro-Israel advisers, and make it harder for Israel to put all blame on the Palestinians.

This isn’t about peace any more. It is about survival. It is about redefining the Palestinian public image. That can only be achieved by rejecting rejectionism.

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Ray Hanania

*Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian-American former journalist and political columnist. Email him at [email protected]

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