We Palestinians need a new approach

Defending the human rights of Palestinians is my life's work. 

For many years I worked for the Israeli non-government organization B'Tselem, uncovering Israeli abuses of Palestinian human rights. No one was addressing Palestinian abuses of Palestinian human rights, so I left B'Tselem and founded the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group (PHRMG). Support for PHRMG dried up because no one was willing to scrutinize Palestinian abuses of Palestinian human rights; instead of constructive concern for Palestinian human rights, I see only anti-Israel rhetoric

Consequently, I have determined to travel the world to raise awareness about Palestinian human rights. We Palestinians need economic prosperity and we need a state, but we have been going about it the wrong way. We trusted Arab states, but they led us to turn down the 1947 United Nations partition plan, and turned us into perpetual refugees. We trusted the UN, which does nothing but benefit itself and maintain the status of refugees for Palestinians. We trusted the West, but they are obsessed with a two-state solution that is not possible until the more fundamental Palestinian problems are addressed.

Who cares about the Palestinian economy right now? Not the Palestinian Authority, not the international community, and not the Arab world. Only Israel cares about the Palestinian economy right now. The Israeli government recently decided to issue another 32,000 work permits for Palestinians, in addition to the 90,000 that already exist. They said that they want to help Palestinians gain greater economic prosperity because that is good for the Palestinians and for Israel.

The countries that say that they want to recognize the Palestinian state are doing us no favors. Where is the Palestinian state? Where is our economy? It is false hope. The Palestinian passport is recognized in only 27 countries. Even some countries that say they recognize the State of Palestine do not recognize our passport anymore. There is no Palestinian state. 

The Palestinian situation is not on the international community's agenda anymore. Their only concern right now is the terrorism coming from the Middle East. This of course angers the PA, which wants international attention and funding. That is why the PA has been encouraging violence-to bring international attention back to it. Despite what he says to the press in English, President Mahmoud Abbas' interest today is to add fuel to the fire so that violence will continue.

Meanwhile, Arab media, which used to blame Israel for everything, is changing its tune. Much of the Arab world sees that Israel is not to blame and, in fact, sees Israel as an ally against Iran. We Palestinians need to take advantage of this détente between Arabs and Israel in order to enhance cooperation for improving the Palestinian economy. 

What has our own leadership and the Arab leadership done for the Palestinians since 1948? Nothing. Only Israel has helped us. Palestinian society is sick right now, and we need the right medicine. We must realize that we have to take responsibility for our own daily lives. 

Violence will not bring about a state and will not bring prosperity. And yet, we are doing nothing to stop the senseless violence.  

We Palestinians need a whole new approach. We need to start fresh. We need to recognize that Israel is not only here to stay, but it is also not our enemy. Israel is our friend, our ally, and our best hope for the future.

There is no denying that Israel is the sanest place in the Middle East. Palestinians do not want to live in Syria or in Iraq or anywhere else in the Middle East. It is much better for them to live in Israel, despite the conflict with Israel. But the conflict is stifling us and limiting our possibilities.

Hamas and Fatah want us to believe that it is through conflict with Israel that we will achieve a better future, and I am here to say that this is completely false. It is through cooperation and friendship with Israel that we Palestinians will build a better future.

Before 1967, Jordan controlled the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Egypt controlled Gaza. They could have worked together to create a Palestinian state, but they did no such thing. The notion of Palestinian unity did not come about until Israel occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. 

It is Israel that gives Palestinians jobs in Israel and in the West Bank. It is Israel that gave us jobs in Gaza when it occupied Gaza. Palestinians in Gaza now miss those jobs.

Israel is already our best friend and our best hope. All we need to do is to recognize it. All we need to do is to stop the hatred against Jews and against Israel.

If the BDS movement wants to help us, then I implore them to stop boycotting Israel and to start boycotting countries that are hostile to Israel, such as Iran. Start promoting trade and cooperation between Israel and the Arab world.

If the West wants to help us, then I implore them to stop talking about a two-state solution and start talking about economic prosperity for the Palestinians through cooperation with Israel and the Arab world.

The two-state solution will come in due time; there will be a Palestinian state. But first the hatred must stop. First we Palestinians must see Israel for what it really is, not an angel and not a monster, but our closest friend, ally, and partner.

This is my hope for the future. This is what I fight for every day. If you care for the human rights of Palestinians, I hope that you will join me.  

Bassem Eid, who lives in Jericho, is a human rights activist, political analyst, and commentator on the internal Palestinian politics.In February, Eid was forced to end his remarks early at the University of Chicago because an anti-Israel protestor hijacked the event and threatened him with physical violence.

Posted: 4/25/2016 3:30:59 PM

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