Buchanan on Palestine
In a column that derides Boston Globe reporter Jeff Jacoby’s celebration of the death of Yasser Arafat, Pat Buchanan offers the following:
That Arafat’s PLO harbored terrorists and his Fatah committed acts of terror is undeniable. And some of those acts were done with Arafat’s approval. But if, as Jacoby writes, Arafat “inculcated the vilest culture of Jew-hatred since the Third Reich,” why did Ehud Barak offer him 95 percent of the West Bank and a capital in Jerusalem? Why did “Bibi” Netanyahu give him Hebron?
Why did Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin share a Nobel Prize with him? Why did Bill Clinton invite him to the White House more times than any other leader? Were they all enablers of terrorism?
No. All realized something that neoconservatives reject. For better or worse, as the explosion of grief at his death demonstrated, Arafat came to personify and symbolize the just cause of Palestinian nationhood. And if one desires peace for Israel, that cause must be accommodated.
And he’s absolutely right on this. I got a bit of flack for an earlier post in which I said that we should send a high-ranking American to Arafat’s funeral — not as an offer of absolution for one man’s sins, but in recognition of the aspirations of the Palestinian nation.
But for some reason there’s this denial among some that such a nation even exists. Among the most ignorant things I’ve ever heard is when people actually profess that “there is no such thing as a Palestinian.” Wrong. National identities exist because people self-identify as members of a distinct group. They’re all imagined communities, all social constructs. The Palestinians exist in the same way that the Americans exist — because they believe in their peoplehood just as we believe in ours.
What Buchanan is saying in the above passage is that even some of the most hawkish Israelis realize this. Security for Israel will come only through the recognition of a Palestinian state. This is a political problem that requires a political solution. If Peres, Rabin, Barak, and Netanyahu understand this, why can’t Americans?
Deifying one side while demonizing the other is simply not a constructive approach.
(cross-posted at Professor Chaos)