Progressives are hurting Palestinians, not Israel: opinion

I will never forget my conversation with a Palestinian builder in 2018. I lived in a nearby Palestinian town and was working on the renovation of my kibbutz in the West Bank. Every morning he and his coworkers would come into our kitchen and use our food to make breakfast. One morning, to our surprise, he sat down to join the group he was with.

While I don’t remember the whole conversation, I will never forget his outburst over the notorious corruption plaguing the Palestinian Authority. He brutally attacked the Palestinian Authority, accusing it of robbing the Palestinians, and claimed that anyone who spoke out against the Palestinian Authority would be a “nigmar” – he ended – pretending to slit his throat while saying this.

Palestinians are very familiar with corruption and human rights abuses by Palestinian officials, but many progressives appear intentionally blind. Rather, they have taken an uncompromising view of the conflict, in which Israel is the sole aggressor and the Palestinians are straight and unsullied victims.

But by painting Palestinians as collectively incapable of sinning, progressives have forced themselves to ignore common abuses in Palestinian society. In doing so, they have not only betrayed their own values, but have empowered those of the region without regard for equality and human rights.

And it is the Palestinians who suffer as a result.

Around 2,500 BDS protesters are seen flocking to the Port of Oakland, California, to stop the unloading of a cargo ship operated by the Israel-based company ZIM in protest of Operation Protective Edge, on August 16, 2014. . (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Students for Justice in Palestine, a grassroots pro-Palestinian organization with more than 200 chapters in the United States, promotes “a world where everyone’s basic needs are met and their rights are respected.” However, its founders have been linked to organizations like Hamas, a group that allows ‘honor killings’: the murder of women guilty of ‘sexual immodesty’. Under the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, 51% of women suffer gender-based violence.

The BDS movement, a leading pro-Palestinian organization popular in progressive circles and among some progressive members of Congress, claims to promote “freedom, justice and equality.” Yet despite this, he has well-documented ties to Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Yes, that same Hamas allows ‘honor killings’ to run rampant in Gaza. Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad also receive funding from Iran, a country that imprisons women for seeking gender equality.

What the harshest critics of Israel on the left also fail to realize is that pointing to Israel encourages the continuation of objectionable Israeli policies, with disastrous consequences for the Palestinians. When progressives launch absurd accusations of “apartheid” or “genocide” at the Jewish state, it simply makes the Israelis firmer and more insular.

It is no coincidence that the 1975 UN resolution declaring Zionism a form of racism, a brainchild of Soviet propaganda and an increasingly popular trope in progressive circles, came along with breakthroughs for the settlement movement. From Israel. When Israelis are told that their own existence is racist and illegitimate, they build a mental wall and strengthen their own resolve.

The pursuit of this perverse ideological goal not only allows the perpetuation of Palestinian extremism, but also silences many Palestinians who, unlike their so-called progressive “allies” in the West, seek genuine dialogue with the Israelis.

I was recently in Bethlehem and, like the contractor I met in 2018, my Palestinian taxi driver embarked on a tirade about the “billions” stolen by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his associates.

He is not the only one who hates the Palestinian Authority. A 2019 poll by Aman Coalition, a Palestinian corruption monitor, saw 91% of Palestinian respondents claim that they do not trust the Palestinian Authority, and with good reason. Former Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat is believed to have stolen $ 1 billion in aid, while Abbas has been accused of hiding $ 600 million of the $ 1.4 billion he received after Arafat’s death.

Hamas also joined the bandwagon, with former chief Khaled Mashaal’s net worth estimated at around $ 2.6 billion. This, from the leader of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, which in 2010 had a GDP per capita of $ 876. To put that in perspective, the US GDP per capita that year was more than $ 48,000.

A 2018 report by Human Rights Watch also made damning accusations, stating that the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have “established mechanisms of repression to crush dissent.” According to the report, the Palestinian authorities “routinely arrest people whose peaceful speech they dislike and torture those in their custody.”

However, it is not just political opponents who suffer under the current Palestinian leadership. For years, the Palestinian authorities have ruthlessly cracked down on LGBT behavior. In the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority has a history of outlawing LGBT activism, while being gay in Gaza puts your own life at risk: Hamas is ultimately responsible for the “crime” of being gay.

Instead of denouncing these heinous abuses, progressives are increasingly content to call Jewish supporters of Israel “baby killers.”

By granting moral exemptions to corrupt, oppressive, and extremist Palestinian leaders, progressives simply exacerbate the daily hardships Palestinians experience. Accusing Israel of deliberately massacring Palestinians in Gaza may score moral virtue points on Twitter, but it also encourages leaders like Abbas to keep stealing millions in financial aid, while many Palestinians are forced to survive on a meager $ 400 a month.

If progressives really care about Palestinians, they must start by empowering them to fight oppressive Palestinian officials. Of course, defend a Palestinian state, but what good will it be if the Palestinians do not trust their own leadership? For all those on the left who constantly denounce Israel but refuse to denounce abuses in Palestinian society, it is time for you to take a good look in the mirror and wonder who the real danger is to the Palestinians.

The author is an Australian writer who focuses primarily on Israeli and Jewish issues. Twitter: @joshrfeldman

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