Robert Novak is out today with one of his sporatic Israel-bashing columns, this one from the West Bank:
Jimmy Carter raised hackles by titling his book about the Palestinian question “Peace Not Apartheid.” But Palestinians allege this is worse than the former South African racial separation. Nearing the 40th anniversary of the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, the territory has been so fragmented that a genuine Palestinian state and a “two-state solution” seem increasingly difficult.
So, Novak throws out the absurd suggestion that the situation for Palestinians in the West Bank is worse than apartheid without ever challenging it, but because he attributes it to what “Palestinians allege” he creates distance from the assertion.
Novak, no doubt, would fend off criticism of his article, as Carter does, by saying it isn’t about Israel, but drawing attention to the “plight of all Palestinians.” But nobody is arguing that the Palestinains aren’t suffering. The argument is over who is to blame for that suffering, and I would argue that Palestinian suffering is a problem largely of their own making. Palestinians have rejected peace at every oppourtunity because of their fanatical dedication to the destruction of Israel, and given a chance, they’d rather fight each other and kill Israeli civilians than attempt to actually build a decent society. Palestinian sympathizers can argue that actions Israel takes in the interests of its national security make it more difficult for the Palestinians to form a decent society, but again, if Palestinians weren’t so intent on killing Israeli civilians, Israel wouldn’t need to take such measures.
This underlying pattern–of blaming the U.S. and Israel for the suffering of the Palestinians while giving Palestinians a free pass–flows through Novak’s piece:
The U.S.-backed boycott following the election victory of the extremist group Hamas in early 2006 has made the Palestinian Authority destitute, crippling government services. Deprived of help from the authority, with the economy in a shambles, city governments are bankrupt. Bethlehem’s mayor, Victor Batarseh, has a special problem because tourists and pilgrims no longer stay overnight in the city of Christ’s birth. Out of money and credit, he is ready to lay off the city’s 165 staffers.
Here, Novak’s focus is on the effect of the U.S.-led boycott on the Palestinians, rather than the fact that Palestians, when given the right to vote, elected a terrorist group that was dedicated to the destruction of Israel. It makes perfect sense that a liberal like Carter would make excuses for the Palestinians, but Novak is a conservative, and conservatives are supposed to be all about personal responsibility.
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