Recently I was preparing a presentation about why the Arab-Israeli conflict was so resistant to solution. One of the points that I made was that even so-called ‘moderate’ Palestinians, like Mahmoud Abbas, have never really accepted the idea of a Jewish state of any size and within any borders.
A logically prior question that I didn’t ask, but should have, is this: Why is the Palestinian ideological spectrum so skewed towards rejectionism? Where are the Palestinians who — while they might not exactly be Zionists — think that it would be better for Palestinian society to at least live alongside Israel than to be locked for generations in a violent struggle? Where are the Palestinians who think that the descendants of the 1948 Arab refugees deserve better than to be cannon fodder?
Here’s how Elliot Jager, in his review of Hillel Cohen’s book “Army of Shadows — Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917-1948” answers the question:
For more than 90 years, Arab radicals have been at war not only with with Zionism, but simultaneously with any Arab voice – Christian, Muslim, Druse or Beduin – advocating moderation and coexistence with the Zionist enterprise. So, where are the moderates?
They are dead – hacked up with axes, riddled with bullets, slaughtered with knives and exploded by bombs. That’s where the Arab moderates are. This book chronicles their story from the start of the British Mandate until the War of Independence.
Cohen says that “as an Israeli Jew, I have no standing to determine who is a traitor to the Palestinian cause.” Well, as an Israeli Jew and a Zionist reading this book, I think the evidence is overwhelming: Arab fanatics are the real traitors to the Palestinian cause; it is they who prevented the creation of a Palestinian state in 1948, and it is they who have been doing everything inhumanly possible to foil the creation of a Palestinian state ever since.
Cohen tells us that hundreds of ‘collaborators’ were murdered before 1948; and all of us remember the scenes of summary executions by Arafat’s men during the Oslo period.
A ‘collaborator’ executed in Hebron
What seems to have happened is a perverse form of natural selection, in which the more violent and murderous elements must end up in control, because they are after all more violent and murderous, and better adapted to conflict.