There is a catch phrase that is popular with the United Nations and the Democratic party in the United Sates when they discuss a two state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict. It surrounds the word “dignity,” and its unique application for the Palestinian Arabs.
The UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon often called for realizing Palestinian Arab dignity, and US President Barack Obama also freely used the term for Palestinian Arabs. The 2016 Democratic Platform highlighted Palestinian dignity twice in it’s short discussion of the Israeli-Arab conflict (statement below).
What about Israeli dignity? It’s never mentioned by the UN or Democrats.
The concept of “dignity” was originally meant to be for both Israelis and Palestinian Arabs. In the actual agreements signed by both parties in September 1995, the language is clear:
“REAFFIRMING their determination to put an end to decades of confrontation and to live in peaceful coexistence, mutual dignity and security, while recognizing their mutual legitimate and political rights;”
Mutual dignity. Dignity for both Israelis and Palestinian Arabs. As agreed to by both Israelis and Palestinian Arabs.
Yet the Democrats and the United Nations NEVER mention dignity for Israelis. Why?
Palestinian Arab Dignity
Is there something unique and/or special about Palestinian Arab dignity? How is it distinct from Israeli dignity? How has mutual dignity been replaced by dignity for a single party?
Is it the Economy? According to one prominent Palestinian Arab, Bassem Eid, the dignity that Palestinian Arabs seek is completely related to economic prosperity:
“Palestinians are anxious about their future. In my opinion, dignity can come only via economic prosperity.”
Is that it? Economic opportunity? Perhaps that is why Israeli dignity is not mentioned by the UN and Democrats – because Israel already has a thriving economy.
But if the goal was economic development for Palestinian Arabs, why did the UN and US President Obama advance plans to ban Israeli Jews from living in EGL (east of the Green Line)/ West Bank of the Jordan River? Economic prosperity for Palestinian Arabs would be stimulated by greater investment, trade and normalization of the working and living conditions of the two people. Conversely, a Jew-free Palestinian state would hurt such path to Arab prosperity.
Is it Independence? Obama talked about dignity slightly differently than Bassem Eid:
“The Palestinian people deserve an end to occupation and the daily indignities that come with it. Palestinians deserve to move and travel freely, and to feel secure in their communities. Like people everywhere, Palestinians deserve a future of hope — that their rights will be respected, that tomorrow will be better than today and that they can give their children a life of dignity and opportunity. Put simply, Palestinians deserve a state of their own.”
In Obama’s formulation, dignity would be the natural outgrowth of independence and sovereignty. In other words, with an independent state, there would automatically be dignity. Palestinian dignity begins – and ends – with their own state. Nothing else is needed. (I would assume that Obama believes the US still strips Native Americans of their dignity since they only have independence but no real sovereignty).
Perhaps, as Israel already had independence and sovereignty, there was no need to call out for Israeli dignity.
If only life were that simple.
The Palestinian Arab leadership has a much broader set of criteria than Obama’s and Eid’s independence and economic opportunity to bring about “dignity”.
Is it Freedom for Murderers? Acting-President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas spoke at a “Freedom and Dignity” conference in Ramallah, just weeks after he met with President Obama in 2013, and dropped the “d-word” a few times.
Abbas, and his left-wing radical European brothers-in-arms, argued for the release of Marwan Barghouti, who was in Israeli jail for the murders of five Israeli civilians. Abbas said that only the release of murderers like Barghouti will show that Israelis are ready for peace; only the release of murderers, could restore Palestinian Arab dignity.
All of the Above, and much more? For Mahmoud Abbas, the requirements to restore Palestinian dignity did not stop with economic prosperity, independence and sovereignty, nor the release of Arab prisoners. As Abbas stated in his address to world leader at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015, Palestinian Arab dignity was tied to Israel itself:
“Is it not time for the humiliating and degrading checkpoints and barriers set up by the Israeli occupying forces in our land to be removed, for the Israeli blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip to be lifted, and for our people to move in freedom and dignity in their own homeland and outside? Is it not time to end the racist, terrorist, colonial settlement of our land, which is destroying the two-state solution? Is it not the time for the six thousand Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli jails to see the light of freedom and to live among their families and communities? Is it not the time for the longest occupation in history suffocating our people to come to an end?”
Is it No Security for Israel? Abbas’s version of dignity means that Israelis would not be able to properly defend itself by removing the blockade of Gaza (which a UN report viewed as legal). He also suggested that Palestinian Arabs should have free access “outside” – meaning in Israel? Does Abbas truly believe that security checkpoints into Israel should disappear, and Palestinian Arabs should freely cross without screening?
Is it Banning Jews from the Land? Abbas referred to Israelis living in EGL/ West Bank of the Jordan River as “racists, terrorists and colonialists.” Are Israelis racists for thinking that Jews should be allowed to live anywhere they purchase land? Is Palestinian dignity only realized by having a pure Arab country without any Jews?
Is it Killing Jews? By declaring that peaceful Jews living in their homes in EGL (like the Fogels and Hallel Yaffa Ariel) are “terrorists,” Abbas gave legitimacy to fellow Palestinian Arabs to defend themselves and kill Israelis, even as they slept in their beds.
Is it in Denying Jewish history? By saying that Jews are “colonialists,” Abbas rejected the entire 3700-year history of Jews in their holy land. Is Palestinian Arab dignity only realized by obliterating the history of the Jews?
That’s quite an order for realizing Palestinian Arab “dignity.”
Palestinian Arab Dignity Reversing Negotiations
Beyond the anti-Semitic and insulting concepts that Abbas considered in his definition of “dignity,” he sought actions directly opposing the parameters of bilateral negotiations to date. Consider Abbas’s statement to the European Union in June 2016:
”Peace and coexistence based on the foundations of justice, truth and respect for the dignity and humanity and freedom of each party on an equal footing, is the real guarantee for security and stability and a promising future for the generations to come, and your generations.”
No to a demilitarized Palestinian State? What does Abbas mean by “equal footing?” Is he suggesting that not only should Israel limit/ remove checkpoints with a new Palestinian state, but that such Palestinian state would have a full army, on “equal footing” with Israel? One of the basic premises of negotiating of a two state agreement was that the Palestinian Arabs would have a demilitarized country. Does that now deny Palestinian Arab dignity?
What can we expect Abbas to add to his list of items for “dignity?”
Dhimmitude? Will Abbas at some point allow non-Muslims to live in a new independent soverign Palestinian state, as long as they are “dhimmis“?
Honor Killings? Gaza has become the leader in the world in the barbaric practice of honor killings where families kill women who “dishonor” the family. Does Abbas feel that the practice will bring back honor and respect to Palestinians?
Deny the Jewish Temples existed? In addition to denying the long Jewish history in Israel, will Palestinian Arab dignity be realized by denying the Jewish Temples stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem? Must the Arab world push UNESCO to deny Jews their spiritiual home and legacy, to achieve “dignity?”
Deny Jews Open Access for Prayer? Will the Palestinian dignity be realized by forbidding Jews from praying at their holiest location? The United Nations and Democrats seem to agree that Jews should be denied.
Calling Jews “sons of apes and pigs?” Do Palestinians achieve dignity by dehumanizing Jews and referring to Jews as “sons of apes and pigs”?
Naming squares and tournaments and schools after killers of Jews? Does Abbas help the Palestinian quest for dignity by naming schools, squares and tournaments after mass murderers of Jews?
Refusing to teach the Holocaust in school or various forms of Holocaust denial? Does Abbas instill dignity in his people, by denying the Holocaust and refusing to teach it at human rights at UNRWA schools?
Suing Great Britain for the Balfour Declaration? Is it not enough to deny the history and rights of Jews in their holy land, must Abbas gain Arab dignity by bullying the world into not acknowledging Jewish rights and history for themselves?
US President Obama and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
Is this the kind of dignity and vision of two states that the United Nations and Democrats have? Is that why Israeli dignity has disappeared from the minds of the jaded power brokers, because Palestinian Arab dignity can only be achieved by denying Israelis their own dignity?
Historians will debate the demise of the Oslo Accords. As they do, they will examine how the United Nations and United States embraced the twisted notion that Israeli dignity precluded Arab dignity, and more specifically, that Arab dignity could only be achieved by denying Israeli dignity.
“A strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States because we share overarching strategic interests and the common values of democracy, equality, tolerance, and pluralism. That is why we will always support Israel’s right to defend itself, including by retaining its qualitative military edge, and oppose any effort to delegitimize Israel, including at the United Nations or through the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement.
We will continue to work toward a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiated directly by the parties that guarantees Israel’s future as a secure and democratic Jewish state with recognized borders and provides the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity. While Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations, it should remain the capital of Israel, an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths. Israelis deserve security, recognition, and a normal life free from terror and incitement. Palestinians should be free to govern themselves in their own viable state, in peace and dignity.”
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