Why Palestine Fails

Before creating another “Palestinian state,” let’s consider its chance of success.

We’ve had several different Arab states in and around Palestine. All failed, some disastrously. 

Will yet another Palestinian state envisioned by Anthony Blinken or some think tank become just one more “failed state,” indeed a state destined to fail?

Yasser Arafat’s PLO operates a corrupt and failing state-in-waiting on Israel’s eastern flank, in an area commonly called “the West Bank.”  It has failed in everything but terror for 30 years.

Well-meaning Israeli leftists, backed by well-meaning U.S. think-tanks and State Department officials, believed Arafat and the PLO had become “moderates.” They gave them Gaza and the West Bank, offering them a ready-made Palestinian state.

The PLO-Israel agreements of 1993-95 -- were meant to bring an era of peace.  Instead, they brought an era of terror: 2,000 Israelis were murdered in less than a decade.

From Day One, the PLO violated all pacts with Israel, smuggled weapons, staged terror attacks.

Arafat’s successor, Mahmoud Abbas, pretends to be “moderate,” as he pays bonuses to terrorists who attack Israel, including Hamas terrorists in Gaza. 

Some naïve Westerners suggest a few Arab states should run Gaza, maybe the West Bank, too. History suggests that option would fail, as it failed in the past.

Jordan is already a sort of a fiction, a “trans” state with identity problems. Most “Jordanians” identify as Palestinians. Jordan is already scared of Palestinians and does not want any more.  The same is true of Egypt. They know why.   

Jordan ruled the West Bank from 1949-1967 as Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip. Both areas, meant to be Arab Palestine, were treated harshly, not given independence. 

Strangely, nobody demanded “freeing Palestine” from occupiers “from the river to the sea.”

After Arab states attacked Israel in 1967 (and lost), Israel retook Gaza and the West Bank, stifling terror. Israel hounded Arafat, who fled to Jordan where he re-established PLO bases.

The PLO unleashed a global age of terror. It hijacked planes and tried to abduct entire Arab states, nearly destroying them. The Palestinians became pioneers in terror. That is why today, in 2023,  not one Arab state offers to resettle them.

The PLO ripped apart Jordan in 1969-70, trying to erect a PLO state in Amman. King Hussein defeated the PLO and saved his country, evicting the terrorists. They went to Lebanon, where they ignited a civil war and built another Palestinian terror state headquartered in Beirut.

From there, Arafat launched more hijackings and the fatal attack on the 1972 Olympiad. Afterwards, PLO terrorists were often let go by Western governments afraid of more attacks.

The PLO terror state grew.  Local attacks on Israel’s northern border increased, until, in 1982, Israel defeated the PLO in Lebanon, evicting them to Tunisia.  A decade later, Israeli leftists rescued Arafat, bringing him back to Israel/Palestine in 1993.

In another “peace move” heralded by Israeli leftists, Ariel Sharon evicted Israel’s tiny civilian population from Gaza in 2005. Peace never came. Arab terror skyrocketed.  Literally.

Rocket attacks sped up after Hamas beat the PLO in elections. Putting Hamas on the ballot was a well-meaning peace move pushed by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.  There have been no elections in Gaza since, and also none in PLO-run territory.

One Man-One Vote, one time only.

Gaza’s exports went from home-grown Israeli flowers and citrus to home-grown Arab terror, what Hamas called muqawwama sarwakhiyya -- “rocket-propelled resistance.”

What have we learned? Why does Arab Palestine fail while Jewish Palestine – Israel -- succeeds? From Arafat/Abbas to Jihad/Hamas, Palestinian states become failed states, terror bases.

A successful nation-state requires a unifying national idea, a history, and an operational plan that is a vision of a hopeful national future. Palestine is a fiction. Palestine is a foreign word in Arabic, and it never appears in the Quran.

The Palestinian Cause (Al-Qadiyya Al-Filastiniyya in Arabic) was never a coherent Idea.  “Palestine” was an artificial symbol for Arab League summits, a Pan-Arab banner under which Arab states pretended to be unified.

Palestine was never conceived as a positive vision but as a vision to negate Israel.

One thing unites the PLO and Hamas: the idea of erasing Israel. They differ on tactics.

Hatred is enough to burn your neighbor’s home but not enough to build a home of your own.

Dr. Michael Widlanski is the author of Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat (Threshold-Simon and Schuster, 2012), and Can Israel Survive A Palestinian State? (1990). He was strategic affairs advisor in Israel ’s Ministry of Public Security, editing captured PLO documents. Earlier he advised Israeli negotiation teams at the Madrid and Washington talks in 1991-92. Dr. Widlanski was a visiting professor at Washington University in St. Louis in 2007-8 and at the University of California, Irvine in 2014. He taught political communication for two decades at The Hebrew University and Bar Ilan University.  Earlier he was a reporter at The New York Times and Cox Newspapers, war correspondent for Israeli Army Radio and Diplomatic Correspondent for Israel Television in English (IBA).

Image: Sete Ruiz

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