A very bright fellow, a dear friend of mine, asked me in synagogue the other week: "Why do the Palestinians shoot rockets at Israel if they know they will get blasted in return by far greater firepower?"
"This is their fundraising season," I replied. "The Salvation Army rings bells. They shoot rockets."
Little did I know at the time they would actually cease fire in time for Thanksgiving. The Palestinian movement of liberation has progressed since 1970 from Black September to Black Friday.
My victim dictum is borne out by events. Sure enough the bucks are pouring in by the boatloads and Iran is thoughtfully replenishing the materiel in time for Christmas. What could be more fun under the tree than rocketry? Not to mention missiles under the mistletoe.
But this time around the Palestinians have gotten the Cracker Jack box with the special prize. The General Assembly of the United Nations has seen fit to confer a new status upon the Palestinian Authority, that of non-member observer state. The vote was 138-9 in favor, with the Marshall Islands, Nauru, and Palau leading the opposition. (Palau is probably annoyed because they're stuck sitting next to the guy in alphabetical order. Still, it's not as bad as Ireland sitting between Iran, Iraq, and Israel all these years.)
Let's put aside the politics of all this, just for the nonce, and relish the absolute absurdity. We are bestowing legitimacy upon an entity that is already divided before it ever united. The West Bank of the Jordan is a piece of land Israel conquered from Jordan in the Six-Day War (although much of it had been granted to Israel in the 1947 U.N. partition agreement). The Gaza Strip is an area Israel took from Egypt in that same war. These parts of two separate countries were united only in conquest by a third and are now trying to merge into a fourth.
Well, perhaps merge is too strong a term. More like sub-merge. These two segments are under two different governments. One is controlled by Fatah and the other by Hamas, two organizations whose hatred for Israel is exceeded only by their disdain for each other.
What legitimacy does each one bring to the table? Certainly none of the democratic variety. Yes, Fatah was elected in the West Bank and Hamas was elected in Gaza. But that was years and years ago. Their terms have long since expired and no one is even thinking of having their dominance tested via plebiscite. So now the UN invites new conferees from entities led by dictators? Come to think of it, Hamas was not elected to total control but to a majority of seats; they then kicked out Fatah and grabbed the rest.
Try this one on for size. A mere two weeks ago the government in Gaza killed six people without a hearing on charges of collaborating with Israel. They then had the bodies dragged through the streets behind automobiles, presumably to discourage imitators. We all got to watch the action live on the Web. Think of it! Two weeks after primitive barbarian bloodthirsty atrocity performed on video by the regnant officialdom and the United Nations jumped in to reward this behavior.
Maybe the video of this ghoulish massacre got a lot of hits on YouTube. That can certainly qualify a regime for recognition. In the old days that kind of footage won you a trial in the Hague. Now you get a case of Heineken instead.
Rhetorically all these responsible leaders still preach destruction of Israel. They still target civilians for murder. They still propagandize children to hate. They still teach that Israel is responsible for September 11th. They continue to practice terrorism and aggression to gain advantage. In any other context, their behavior would provide an object lesson for how not to structure a society. Instead they are rewarded.
"Will this bring the Palestinians to the peace table?" wonder the pundits. Believe it or not, they are not kidding. The Western mind simply cannot accept that these are murderers who relish exsanguination over sanguinity. They have won everything by violence; they see accommodation as surrender and cooperation as betrayal. Now they have one foot in the United Nations. Perhaps soon they will attain the prestige enjoyed by Palau…