In Slate yesterday, the otherwise brilliant Christopher Hitchens asserted that what he saw in
Suppose someone were to come to me, after reading the papers last week, and say -- Look: No sooner did Israeli troops leave Gaza than mobs began to loot and destroy even the greenhouses that had been left there as part of their agricultural infrastructure. The police of the Palestinian Authority, who had ample warning of the deadline, managed to post a total of 70 policemen at these valuable sites, who could do no more than stand by as people scavenged and stole.
The synagogues left behind by the settlers, which the Israelis were too squeamish to destroy, could perhaps have been preserved for a day or so until a decision was made about what to do with them (a museum, perhaps, or even a school -- religious buildings have no special sacredness for me), but they were simply and viciously torched.
Gangs of ruffians and blackmailers roam
unchecked, and even tolerated, and prey upon their fellows. Clerical extremist parties flourish their banners and mouth fearsome oaths and slogans. The promise to respect the border with Gaza is void, and smugglers and mobsters laugh at the authorities. Egypt
So, now how do you like your Palestinian state? My reply would be that this doesn't alter the case. It breaks my heart, but it doesn't alter the case.
Well, it sounds like five strikes to me. If your “police” can’t protect valuable property, if you torch buildings that could be used as a museum perhaps, or even a school, if gangs roam the land unchecked and tolerated, if clerical extremist parties are similarly encouraged, and if solemn undertakings are void one day after they became effective, I’d say -- yeah, I don’t like your Palestinian state.
But none of this fazes Hitchens, because there is apparently nothing that could call into question a Palestinian state:
The right of the Palestinians to a homeland and flag and passport of their own is in the first place inalienable, and in the second place enshrined in many U.N. resolutions as well as in the pledges (moral and monetary) made by European and American statesmen.
The fact that this cause was represented for so long in the person of a thief and dictator and fantasist (and admirer of Saddam Hussein), a man well-described by Edward Said as "the Papa Doc of Palestine," doesn't change this essential point, even though everybody should read David Samuels' absolutely arresting profile of the late Yasser Arafat in the September 2005 issue of the Atlantic Monthly.
Still, when one considers how many lives have been pointlessly lost in the last decade of the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation, and how many billions upon billions of international donations have been poured down a rathole and used for the greasing of the nastiest palms, a certain feeling of depression is inevitable.
I’m sorry, but those are strikes six through ten. The right to a state is obviously not inalienable; it didn’t even exist when
I don’t think it is necessary to comment on the sanctity of “many U.N. resolutions” as the purported source of the rights of man.
I would not think the fact that the people followed for decades a leader who was a “thief and dictator and fantasist” -- and build monuments to him after his death -- is an argument for a state, but rather the opposite.
The fact that “many lives have been pointlessly lost in the last decade of the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation” -- a decade in which the Palestinians were offered a state on 95% of the West Bank, all of Gaza, with a capital in Jerusalem, and answered the offer with a barbaric terrorist war -- should lead to more than a “certain feeling of depression.”
And there is only one intelligent response to “billions upon billions” that were “poured down a rathole.” Enough is enough.
Hitchens ends his piece with a question he apparently thinks is a sufficient answer to all these points:
But have I heard anybody say that the whole thing's obviously a waste of time and resources, and the Palestinians should therefore be abandoned to their own devices? No.
Well, you heard it here: Yes. Wake me when they start their "sustained, targeted, and effective operations to . . . dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure."
Last week in