Thursday, March 15, 2007

Amazing article on Palestinain Youth from the NYTimes

A Review of The Front Page New York Times Article of March 12th, 2007
Years of Strife and Lost Hope Scar Young Palestinians

See the picture that goes with the aritlce

This story has so many points that could be used to show pro-Palestinian or pro-Israel bias, but at the end of the day I think it is an objective perspective of one journalist looking into the future of Palestinian youth. Sure its all quotes by Palestinians, but the spin is mostly absent. Sure, some stuff is blamed on Israel, but that is partially true, and definitely is the major Palestinian perspective. However there is internal criticism too. What is frightening is that the internal criticism is that they haven’t done a good enough job harming Israel, but it is more about the failure to build a future for Palestine than destroy a future for Israel.

The article starts out with an objective and frightening statement:

Their worried parents call them the lost generation of Palestine: its most radical, most accepting of violence and most despairing.
The first quote sounds like it could from PMW

“Ever since we were little, we see guns and tanks, and little kids wanting little guns to fight against Israel,” said Raed Debie, 24, a student at An Najah University here.

But that is responded to by

Issa Khalil, 25, broke in, agitated. “We never see anything good in our lives,” he said. He was arrested for throwing stones in the first intifada, the civil disobedience that began in the late 1980s and led to the 1993 Oslo accords with Israel. He was arrested again in the second uprising as the agreement faltered.

I wouldn’t exactly call the intifada civil disobedience. Also, the agreement didn’t falter with the second intifada, it was being broken by Palestinian terrorism, and a Palestinian Authority which did nothing to stop the scourge.

Then we get to the depressing part

Few talk of peace, only of a lifetime of “resistance.”

Opinion polls show a generation more supportive of armed struggle and terrorism than their parents, according to Waleed Ladadweh of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. The violence is directed not only toward Israel, but also toward one another.

We are given the Israeli line and the Palestinian line as to why this is happening

Now, the only Israelis whom Palestinians see are armed — soldiers and settlers. The West Bank is cut into three parts by checkpoints; Gazan men under 30 are virtually unable to leave their tiny, poor and overcrowded territory. Few talk of peace, only of a lifetime of “resistance.”

Many Israelis agree that the current generation of young Palestinians has been thoroughly radicalized, but say that is the product of Palestinian political and religious leaders who have sanctioned and promoted violence and terrorism against Israel.

Both are true, and it’s a viscous cycle. But, it is not the “cycle of violence” that everyone talks about, that could be broken by anyone at anytime. Israel can not suddenly decide that it does not need to protect itself, the Palestinians could decide to stop their propaganda and their attacks. That’s all very nice, but telling other people to change doesn’t work, what can Israel to do help? The security fence is an amazing solution. This “apartheid wall” will actually ease life for Palestinians and make it easier for them to commute and move. Less checkpoints will hopefully be neccasary, and there will be less need for confrontation between the IDF and Palestinians.

A few paragraphs down we see that the Israeli line is probably more accurate

“We’re pushed all the time to be more political, more militant, more religious, more extreme,” said Shadi el-Haj, a 20-year-old student at An Najah. “We want to be Palestinians, like the generation of the first intifada. But people push you, ‘Are you Fatah or Hamas?’ All our problems start with, ‘I’m Fatah, I’m Hamas.’ It wasn’t like that before.”

We also get a chillingly accurate depiction as children as pawns used and abused. Reminds me a bit of Molech worship, I guess all that death-cult stuff wasn’t far off target

“It was always our choice to be fuel for the struggle,” he said. “But our problem now is that the car burns the youth as fuel but doesn’t move. There’s a problem in the engine, in the head. These kids are willing to be fuel, but many have been burned as waste.”

Later we have Mustafa (age 6) saying:

‘I want to be fat, Mommy,Because I want to put on a suicide belt and not have the Israelis see it.’

I recently have had a few conversations with people about what they really think the current situation will lead to. Here is what some Palestinians think of where we are all heading

For the Id al-Fitr festival, the boys asked for toy Kalashnikovs and Uzis, and they know all about the crude rockets, the Qassams, that militants fire into southern Israel. “They classify the weapons, they want a particular gun,” Mrs. Assar said. “And when you think of the violence, and what future will we have here? It will be a very violent future.”

Mr. Assar broke in. “The world is moving ahead, and we’re moving backward,” he said. “We’re back to 1948.”

Doesn’t give much hope does it? Well at least maybe someone will realize there that they are stuck in 1948, and that they should move along and come up with some new ideas, hopefully ones that don’t involve violence.

Here is what a remember of of the Abu Rish brigades, a militant Gazan offshoot of Fatah that opposed the Oslo accords with Israel and has moved closer to Hamas, has to say:

Raed, 30, was arrested in the first intifada, when he was 16. He felt a hero at the time, but the political result, the 1993 Oslo accords, “were useless and benefited Israel,” he said. “No one can resist with stones or build a nation without violence.”

You can’t resist with stones? Wasn’t that what the whole first intifada was about? I guess he means that he thinks the current means of "resistance" with bigger and bigger guns is actually helping...except he doesn't.

“Hamas and Fatah are so divided, the goal of Palestine disappears,” he said. “I talk about willing my children to be martyrs for Allah, but I honestly wish for them to be safe and healthy, that’s all.”

Now if this is what some crazy terrorist is saying, how much can we extrapolate to what real Palestinians are feeling deep inside?

There is bravado there, but also frustration. None of the fighters, who agreed to talk if their last names were not published, believes a Palestinian state will be established; none can imagine living next to Israel. All of them want to leave and start again, somewhere.

That’s amazing. Now if Israel could just figure out a way of making that dream come true. Its funny that they want to start again elsewhere. They are the ones who created this situation. It was there choice to use first stones and now AK-47s, they should clean up the mess, rather than run away from it. If the Palestinians wanted to, I do believe they could “stay, start again, right where they are now.” But if they don’t want to, how come there aren’t right-wing NGOs devoted to helping Palestinians leave Gaza and the West Bank? After writing that, I realized that there are some who help Palestinians and Israeli Arabs move away after they sell their land or property, but why not expand beyond that?

With the economy of Gaza shutting down, much of the work available for young people is either in the swollen and disorganized security forces or in the armed militias or gangs, many of them built on clan loyalties, and some of which engage more in racketeering than in fighting. Hamas and Islamic Jihad, with considerable financial help from Iran and Syria, are known at least to pay their people, even if Hamas cannot pay full salaries to all Palestinian Authority employees.

Hassan, 21, ran out of money before finishing university, but cannot imagine what he would do in Gaza with a degree. “I look at the graduates here, and their diplomas are useless,” he said. “That’s why I’m in the resistance.”

Many were skeptical that the Palistinians voted in Hamas for anti-curroption and ecomic reasons. Why not vote Hamas, when we all know that Fatah is no less violent? Oh, yah they are fanatical book banners, but hey they give us money. It’s pretty sad that a degree is worth nothing and that it is easier to fight. Yet that doesn’t excuse your decision to go around and kill people.

According to the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, about 19 percent of those killed since 2000 have been 18 or under, whether in fighting against the Israelis or among Palestinian factions.

You know all those complaints about Israel killing children? Guess what? When you use children as soldiers, its inevitable. Also note this report is careful to include the important information that the death tolls we see include Palestinian internal violence.

To anyone seriously interested in getting the Palestinians out of the west bank and gaza, dream on. We can’t get olim to Israel, what makes you think you will get the Palestinians out of where they are? There are millions of them. Sure some of them want to go:

Where young Palestinians once dreamed of staying to build a new state, now many are giving up and scheming to get out.

Moayyed Haj Hussein is 22, educated and well spoken. But after he failed to find a job in six months, his mother pressed his brother-in-law to give him work in a coffee shop near the Hawara checkpoint, which the Israeli Army uses to control who comes in and out of Nablus.

He hates waiting on people and washing dishes, and says he is still looking for a decent job. But he is also looking to get out — to the United States, if possible, where his sister lives, but “almost any place,” he said, “where I can work and live a normal life.”

He is a Palestinian patriot, he insists. “But there’s no hope here,” he said. “You see the situation. It’s useless to think it will improve. You see it; it just gets worse.”

If we help people like Moayyed get out it will just get worse. The brain drains the every country worries about are probably the most severe with the Palestinian population. The smart people find ways out. Not only that, but the more liberal minded Palestinians will be found in scattered throughout the world. If people like Moayyed leave en masse we will be left with a more violent Palestinian population, if that is even possible to imagine.

In his own quest to leave, Mr. Hussein, the cafe worker, has contacted the American Consulate in East Jerusalem. But, he said, “I can’t get a permit to go to Jerusalem to make an application.”

What about those who would accuse you of giving up your rights in your land?

Mr. Hussein turned away. “I don’t care,” he finally said. “I want to live happily.”

If Hussein and those who are like him leave, there is no hope for peace. Remember the famous golda quote?

Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us

Well when the Palestinians concentrate more on building a Palestinian state than destroying the State of Israel there will be peace. It is tautological that those who leave י"שע (West Bank and Gaza) care more about their livelihood than about destroying Israeli livelihood. When they leave they take with them the last shreds of hope for the peaceful formation of a Palestinian state.

One thing both people on the right and the left would probably agree with is that we find a way to let Mr. Hussein into ירושלים (Jerusalem). Its funny how things work out that way sometimes, in this crazy country.

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