Monday, June 30, 2003
Cynthia Ozick makes an extremely distressing point in today's Opinion Journal:
No one can refute the truth that the Palestinians have fashioned a culture peculiarly their own--but one so steeped in the negative as to have been turned into a kind of anti-history. In order to deprive Jews of their patrimony, Palestinians have fabricated a sectarian narrative alien to commonplace knowledge. Although the Arab invasion of Palestine did not occur until the 17th century, Palestinian Arabs are declared to be, according to activist Salah Jabr, "the descendants of civilizations that have lived in this land since the Stone Age." With equal absurdity, other such deniers of Jewish patrimony claim a Canaanite bloodline. By replacing history with fantasy, the Palestinians have invented a society unlike any other, where hatred trumps bread...
The salient attribute of any culture is originality and its legacies. Genius, no matter how rare, is a human universal. It sends into the world new perception and new experience, inspiring duplication: Out of Israel came monotheism, out of Greece philosophy, out of Arab civilization science and poetry, out of England the Magna Carta, out of France the Enlightenment. What has been the genius of Palestinian originality, what has been the contribution of the evolving culture of Palestinian sectarianism? On the international scene: airplane hijackings and the murder of American diplomats in the 1970s, Olympic slaughterings and shipboard murders in the 1980s. And toward the Jews of the Holy Land, beginning in the 1920s and continuing until this morning, terror, terror, terror, terror.
Even if the roadmap succeeds, just what kind of society can the Palestinians build on this basis? Not much comes to mind that is encouraging. The best that can be hoped for is that they will use the best traditions of Araby, but other Arab countries make even that hope rather dim.

Nations -- even disputable ones, such as "Palestinians" -- should never be written off lightly: human beings are infinitely adaptable, and can often find their way out of the thickest mullah-run fog and the most profound National-Socialist darkness. Nonetheless, disturbing as it may be, I keep wondering whether the Arab world has sacrificed not only individual Palestinians, but the entire Palestinian nation -- their history, worldview, civil society, culture, and ultimately, population -- to the pointless assault against Israel. Most ironically, while thus destroying the would-be nation of Palestine, the Arabs have unwittingly forged a much stronger and more cohesive Israel, than could otherwise have been possible.

I'll have to write more on this later.


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