Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Boring Palestinians. By Bret Stephens.

The Boring Palestinians. By Bret Stephens. Wall Street Journal, July 15, 2013.


And yet for all its presumed importance, the Palestinian saga has gotten awfully boring, hasn't it? The grievances that remain unchanged, a cast of characters that never alters, the same schematics, the clich├ęs that were shopworn decades ago. If it were a TV drama, it would be “The X-Files”—in its 46th season. The truth is out there. Still. We get it. We just don't give a damn anymore.
Little wonder that when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was interviewed over the weekend by CBS’s Bob Schieffer, the topics were Iran, Egypt and Syria, with no mention of Palestinians. Granted, news is a fickle business and what bleeds leads, but the omission was telling all the same. The region is moving tumultuously forward. Israel is dynamic, threatened, divided, innovative, evolving. Egypt careens between revolution and restoration. Lebanon is on the brink, Iran is on the march, Syria is in its agony. America is beating a retreat.
Only the Palestinians remain trapped in ideological amber. How long can the world be expected to keep staring at this four-million-year-old mosquito?
For the usual stalwarts and diehards, the answer will always be: as long as it takes. Palestinians will say it’s on account of their supposedly unique experience of injustice and oppression. Professional peace processors think it’s because of the supposed centrality of the Palestinian drama to all other Middle Eastern conflicts. The Israeli left and its sympathizers in the West are convinced that Palestine is the key to Israel’s survival as a Jewish and democratic state.
All of which is stale bread. Take the most jaundiced view of Israeli behavior toward the Palestinians over the past dozen years: Does it hold a candle to what Bashar Assad does in any given week to his own people in Homs and Aleppo? Take the most exaggerated view of the dearness of Palestine to Egyptians on the streets of Cairo or Turks in the squares of Istanbul: How does their sympathy for Gaza compare with their outrage toward their own governments?
As for the view that Israel needs to separate itself from Palestinians for its own good, that’s as true as it is beside the point. The issue for Israel isn’t whether it has a theoretical interest in a Palestinian state. It does.
But everything hinges on whether such a state evolves into another Costa Rica—or descends into another Yemen. So far the evidence points toward Yemen. Is it any wonder that, given the choice between a long-term moral threat to their character as a state and a near-term physical threat to their existence as a nation, ordinary Israelis should be more concerned with the latter?