June 25, 2004

DESPAIR

There is Hope in the Holy Land (Max Hastings, The Spectator, June 26th, 2004)

In one of hundreds of grey concrete breezeblock shanties that pass for houses in Shatila refugee camp, I drank coffee with Mohammed Khalout, who has lived there since he arrived as a small child in 1948. A score or so members of his family clustered around us as we talked, because in Gaza no one has any place to go. The Khalouts were a jolly crew that morning, obviously welcoming a distraction. Since Israeli punitive operations destroyed Gaza’s flickers of economic life, terrorism and the proclamation of grievances have become the only meaningful activities. Who can be surprised that refugees breed vast families? Procreation and suicide-bombing are their only forms of self-assertion. ‘We are not Jew-haters,’ says Mohammed. ‘But the way they treat us, when we see horrible things, innocent people and children being killed, of course we feel hate. They have no respect for us.’ What does he think of the suicide bombers? He hesitated perceptibly, then said, ‘The Israelis are killing the innocent. They don’t distinguish. Imagine 50 people living in three rooms in this house, which we can’t get out of. If you want to judge the suicide bombers, look at where they come from.’ The whole family is remarkably articulate, perhaps because they have had so much practice at rehearsing their miseries. From a rusty old tin box, they produce the handsomely crested British Mandate title deeds of the house and land in Israel they lost for ever in 1948, yet which dominate their folk memory.

Everything that Israelis say is true about the difficulty — perhaps impossibility — of making deals with the Palestinians. In Gaza and the West Bank scarcely the vestige of a political or social structure exists. Every man with a weapon is a warlord. Crime of all kinds — blackmail, intimidation, rape, murder — thrives unchecked.

It was impossible to spend an hour with the Khalout family without feeling a surge of anger and pity for their predicament. I asked the swarming tribe of children around us whom they like on TV. With one voice, they cried eagerly, ‘Rambo! Rambo!’ God in heaven, what a role model for these people. They exist, but they do not live. A Western diplomat remarked to me, ‘They’re queueing outside the mosques to become suicide bombers. It’s the fashionable thing to do. The only reason there have been few explosions lately is that closing the borders has made it hard to get bombs to their targets.’ Israel’s draconian security measures impose a huge economic cost, but have proved notably successful in curbing suicide bombing.

The Palestinians inhabit a fantasy world because never in their lives have they been permitted to make real choices, real decisions. As prisoners of their own ghastly leadership as well as of the Israelis, they have been denied access to adult life. Thus they have become incapable of living it — only of dying it. I came out of Gaza sated with tales of atrocity and recrimination, of murdered children and wrecked homes, which are the only currency valued by the inhabitants.


Posted by Peter Burnet at June 25, 2004 9:35 AM
Comments

"...prisoners of their own ghastly leadership..."

That line pretty much says it all.

Posted by: Bartman at June 25, 2004 10:17 AM

This is a good description of Hell.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at June 25, 2004 10:50 AM

From a rusty old tin box, they produce the handsomely crested British Mandate title deeds of the house and land in Israel they lost for ever in 1948, yet which dominate their folk memory.

Of course, chances are they lost it by following the advice of Arab leaders in 1948 to leave Israel so that the Arabs could destroy it, after which they could go home. Oops!

Posted by: PapayaSF at June 25, 2004 3:32 PM

It's called a "Grievance Culture". Their entire life and culture is dedicated to rehearsing past grievances, thirsting for payback, and taking payback any opportunity they can.

Grievance-culture ideology comes in three parts:
1) Once WE were Lords of the Earth and Everything Was A Perfect Paradise.
2) Then THEY took it all away from us.
3) IT'S PAYBACK TIME! NEVER FORGET! IT'S PAYBACK TIME!

Example: Ku Klux Klan
1) The romanticized antebellum South (and its Peculiar Institution)
2) Those Yankees and that Foreign Occupation Government from far-off Washington
3) WHITE POWER!

Example: Naziism
1) Greater Germany & the German Volk
2) The Versailles Treaty and Das Juden
3) RULERS OF TOMORROW! MASTER RACE! SEIG HEIL!

Example: Afrocentrism
1) Mythical Africa
2) Whitey
3) WHITEY OWES US! PAYBACK TIME!

Example: Marxism
1) Primitive Communistic society
2) The Capitalist Oppresors
3) WORKERS OF THE WORLD, UNITE! YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BUT YOUR CHAINS! REVOLUTION!

Example: Radical Islam
1) The Umma in the times of the Prophet, ordained by Divine Right
2) The Infidels from Europe, America, and especially The JEWS
3) DEATH TO THE INFIDEL! ALLAH-U AKBAR! ALLAH-U AKBAR! ALLAH-U AKBAR!

Posted by: Ken at June 25, 2004 5:18 PM
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