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50 years of failed strategy is nothing to commemorate
Palestinians need to develop a new strategy to confront Israel’s violence and land terrorism. We can no longer afford to embrace the “all or nothing” strategy because it’s not a strategy at all. We have to stop commemorating our suffering and instead put our energies into defining new, positive strategies to win back our land and our nationalism. Published in the Arab News May 31, 2017
By Ray Hanania
The most important thing about remembering the 1967 war in which Israel launched a “pre-emptive strike” against Egypt, Syria and Jordan is not that it was 50 years ago.
But, that’s what we will mistakenly focus on.
What’s important is how we got there, and why it hasn’t changed.
The 1967 war, often called “The Six –Day” War, because it did only take Israel six days to destroy the myth of the “Arab Nationalism,” should symbolize something more important for today’s new generation of Arabs.
It should symbolize the difference between Israel and the Arabs. The 1967 War, which destroyed the national aspirations of the Palestinian people and shattered the myth of Arab empowerment, should be a reminder that we, Arabs, need to change.
The concept of change has been focused on Israel withdrawing from the occupied lands, but that’s misguided and has been the weak foundation of the Arab Strategy towards Israel.
The focus should instead be on the Arabs themselves. The focus should not be on what Israel did, but on what the Arabs failed to do.
I was only 13 years old when the war broke out.
By then, my father’s family had been expelled at gunpoint by Israel’s terrorist occupation in 1948. They were forced to flee to Jordan, where they sat in a refugee camp until my father, George, and his older brother Moses, could help bring them to Chicago.
In 1967, my mother’s family experienced the brutality of Israel’s military occupation, the human degradation Israel inflicted on Christians and Muslims, and the humiliation not of losing the war, but of being treated like animals by the Israeli soldiers and eventually the terrorist settler movement.
The Israelis were not the issue, though. It was us. We were the issue. We festered in our suffering. The continued failure to achieve justice fueled our anger. Our leaders fanned that anger into hatred.
And hatred undermined any possibility of defeating Israel, forcing us to live as “victims” who would strike out in anger in truly meaningless acts of violence and resistance that often forced us to abandon our humanity and engage in terrorism against civilians, and even little children.
Israel exploited our suffering, anger and hate and the worse the maye it, the more they excelled towards their own goals.
In 1967 there were no settlements. Today there are more than 168 settlements that are racist because they are built only for Jews and exclude Christians and Muslims, and are constructed on lands taken from Christians and Muslims. The population of this racist settlement movement is more than 450,000, including 200,000 living in settlements that hug East Jerusalem.
Israel is strategic in everything it does. Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1980, 13 years after occupying the land and declassified those racist settlers in racist settlements like Gilo as “Israeli citizens,” changing the label from occupied settlements to “Israeli lands.”
Israel is good at manipulating public perceptions, redefining terms and planning. They have one philosophy: take what you can get and then slowly change it.
In contrast, the Arabs have one philosophy, too. Take all or nothing. Of course, we have “nothing.”
The Arabs have rejected everything. They have no faith in their ability to “grow.”
Let me explain. By “grow,” I mean to take a small piece of land and grow it into an entire country. The Israeli started with small settlements in late 19th Century, expanded it to bigger cities in the 20th century, and then accepted half the state proposed by the United Nations in 1947.
The Israelis knew the 1947 Partition plan was ridiculous, but instead of rejecting it, they embraced it. Because they had the confidence in themselves knowing that whatever they take, they can grow.
In accepting half the state, they fought and took control of about 50 percent more.
Palestinians can change and do the same thing as the Israelis. They can accept whatever land is abandoned by Israel and have faith and confidence that in the long run, they will eventually expand and takeover the rest.
The Israelis know that. The Israelis recognize that if the Palestinians ever establish a state of Palestine, that Palestine State would grow and eventually absorb Israel. The sheer weight of Arab demographics in peace would suffocate Israeli nationalism.
But the Palestinians have no faith in themselves. They only have their suffering, their victimization, their anger and their suffering.
Sadly, some Palestinians have found gratification in that suffering, building up institutions of suffering that champion conflict and extremism rather than realistic solutions. Institutions of suffering that pretend to be organizations that feed the emotion and clamor for “all or nothing.”
They want to turn the clock back to 1947 or even further if they can, and change it all into a Democratic State where Christians, Muslims and Jews, they say, will be equal.
But they can’t. So they create an industry in their suffering and commemorate their tragedy.
Palestinians must break free from this mental bondage of anger and suffering and define a new future based on strategies of growth and expansion and confidence in ourselves that we can “grow.”
Otherwise, we will be passing along to the next generation of Palestinians and Arabs another commemoration of 75 years, then 100 years. And by them, I will wonder if Palestine will even exist anyplace outside of our angry memories.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian American columnist and author. He is the editor of TheArabDailyNews.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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