Saturday, May 03, 2003

The recent Washington Post op-ed by PLO flack Ghaleb Darabya contains the usual boilerplate, but it does contain one rather telling statement. "We have waited more than 35 years for the attainment of our rights, equality and self-determination," he writes. He's referring, of course, to the capture of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip by the Israelis in the Six-Day War of 1967.

The problem with this claim is that before 1967, the residents of the occupied territories could hardly be said to have possessed their "rights, equality and self-determination". In fact, they were ruled autocratically from foreign capitals--Amman and Cairo. Gaza Strip residents, like Darabya's family, were not even permitted to become Egyptian citizens. And any expressions of nationalist sentiment directed against Egypt or Jordan, rather than Israel, would have been brutally crushed--not that there were any, mind you.

For, in truth, claims for "rights, equality and self-determination" in Palestinian history have always been--as Darabya's statement demonstrates--synonymous with the aim of destroying Israel and killing, exiling or subjugating that nation's Jewish population. Whenever any opportunity has arisen to imbue these ideals with a more positive meaning, such as independence from fellow Arabs between 1948 and 1967, or peaceful, independent coexistence with Israel during the occupation, few Palestinians ever showed the slightest interest in doing so.

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