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Is there really hope?

Reader comment on item: Hope for the Middle East [as Palestinians Face Defeat]

Submitted by Ethan Corey (United States), May 21, 2002 at 15:33

I would agree with Dr. Pipes that one should not place too much credence in the statements of rejectionists that Israel's offensive in 6 West Bank cities will lead to more violence. Did anyone really expect any Palestinian to say, "Gosh, now that Israel has come in and has really devastated our terrorist infrastructure, Israel has really taught me a lesson, and I'm not going to mess with the Israelis again?" Get real.

However, there are two reasons to believe that a peaceful settlement remains far away. First, as Dr. Pipes correctly points out, "Palestinians as a whole really do believe these days that they are battering Israel into submission [and] that Israel is reeling and divided." To the extent that Palestinians continue to believe (even without reason) that they are achieving tactical success, they will be less likely to search for a peaceful solution.

Second is the cultural element. It seems to me that Palestinians, like the Arab population generally, suffer from an exaggerated sense of humiliation at the hands of Israel and of the West. However, there appears to be a total absence of shame in the Islamic world. Almost no one in the Palestinian community, or in the Arab community at large, feels ashamed that homicide bombings are being perpetrated in their names. Similarly, after September 11th, Arabs either celebrated the attacks, stated that the Mossad or the CIA perpetrated the attacks, or simply stated that the attackers did not represent real Islam. I am not aware of a single Arab who stepped forward and said "I am my brother's keeper. I am ashamed and humiliated as a Muslim that these attacks were carried out in the name of Islam." Until Palestinians dial down the sense of humiliation, and develop a sense of shame, peace will be difficult to achieve.
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