April 2, 2020

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Fisking the NYT on Oslo at 25

The NYT published a piece by their own reporters on Oslo at 25. It is a treasure trove of Y2KMind. On one level it’s yeoman-level journalism: a background, he-said, she-said, survey. It’s in the PCP1 packaging that the real problem lies.
It is not so much frozen in amber as subtly updated, with the only signs of intelligence to be found in the smooth introduction of perspective as fact, and conclusion as self-evident, and literally not a glimmer of new understanding. My fisking will focus on the alternative narrative/paradigm (HSJP) to which the NYT, and so many other high-level information professionals, have studiously avoided exposing their 21st century readership.
The governing assumption, the sine-qua-non of the analysis is a simple axiom, an axiom launched by Oslo in 1993, and turned into dogma in 2000: the Palestinians want a state, their own independent state. Any analysis that questions that dogma is, by definition, not fit to print. When you see the “Oslo Dream” referring to Palestinian hopes for a “democratic state living side by side in peace” with Israel, you’re reading the workings of Westsplaining Y2KMind.

25 Years Later, Oslo’s Promise for Mideast Peace Is Unfulfilled

Sept. 12, 2018
In Jericho, once seen as the foothold of a new Palestinian state, the Oslo accords held out a glittering future. Uriel Sinai for The New York Times
JERICHO, West Bank — When the Oslo peace accords were signed a quarter-century ago, residents of Jericho celebrated. Their dusty, 11,000-year-old desert city was given autonomy before anywhere else on the West Bank. Palestinians saw it as a foothold for what they trusted would become their own new state.
But nothing has turned out as they expected.
A shiny new casino, opened with great fanfare in 1998 to entice Israeli gamblers, has been empty since 2000, when they were barred from entering the city.
When the Palestinian leadership started a war of extermination (all civilians targeted), which they could not win, and drove every interacting Israeli out of reach.
The two-decade-old public hospital finally just got an elevator thanks to a donation from Japan. Perhaps the best-known institution of self-government in town is the jail, widely feared as a dungeon for political prisoners.
Nice touch, a little honesty… but will the implications of this observation make it into the analysis?
The brilliant Palestinian future conjured by Oslo has instead become a bitter trap.
Wow. Disappointment, failure, maybe, but trap, bitter trap? That’s so deliberate and malevolent. And who, prey, set the trap? 3 guesses. And who, aside from some Palestinians are bitter about it? The true believers who blame Israel for their failure?
The Oslo accords, first unveiled on the White House lawn with a handshake between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat on Sept. 13, 1993, culminated in mutual recognition between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, which Israel had long banned as a terrorist organization, and the first formal agreements in a phased effort to resolve the century-old conflict.
They called for a comprehensive peace agreement by 1999, which was widely expected to lead to statehood for the Palestinians, and for Israel, realization of the long-held goal of land for peace.
Watch out for the passives: “was widely expected to lead to…” Widely believed by whom? The Israeli and European architects of Oslo and anyone, especially Bill Clinton, to whom they could sell that hope, Westsplainers.
Arafat, most of his negotiators, the Palestinian and Muslim world? They were told it was a “Treaty of Hudaybiyya,” humiliating now, but a ruse to bring on a more successful war against Israel. Unbeknownst to all but the more alert Westerners, in the minds of the people who thought they were still at war with the very existence of Israel (how many of the 1+ billion Muslims?), the Oslo ‘Peace Process’ was  an ‘Oslo War Process,’ not ‘Land for Peace’ but ‘Land for War.’
So determined were Westsplaining Peace activists, including large swaths of the community of journalists, to this version, that when the suicide terrorists tumbled out of the Trojan Horse in 2000, Westerners remained in ignorance of the ‘alternative’ narrative. So much for PoMo rejection of grand narratives, and openness to multiple ones.  But for Y2KMind, it was just what the doctor ordered: when Caliphaters attack a Western democracy, blame the democracy.
The famous handshake between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat after signing the Oslo accords at the White House in 1993 was seen as a first step toward peace and Palestinian statehood.Paul Hosefros/The New York Times
Again the “was seen,” and again by the same people, who are not about to tell you what happened if it violates their chosen narrative.
Today, however, the Oslo process is moribund, having produced neither a peace agreement nor a Palestinian state.
It was brutally slain in October 2000. It has been kept alive, somewhat like Lenin’s corpse, frozen in the hearts of Y2KMinders who refuse to admit that positive-sum Oslo Logic (Land for Peace) could not work when one of the two sides had no intention of letting the other side ‘win’ anything.

About its only lasting substantive achievement is the Palestinian Authority, established as an interim self-government but still going two decades after its expiration date. The authority has made strides in providing basic services and created jobs for roughly a quarter of the work force,
Created jobs? It’s got a quarter of the population on its payroll (the top positions being in security and prisons). It’s killed the options for Palestinian-Israeli joint ventures precisely because of the hard zero-sum choices it repeatedly made. Talk about lipstick on a pig…
but it has grown increasingly autocratic and has been plagued by accusations of corruption.
It was autocratic and corrupt from day 1. That’s why the peace process failed and the war process won. The authors write as if only when they, the press, begin to notice something, does it begin to happen.
Nearly three of four Palestinians believe conditions are worse than before the accords were signed.
i.e., under Israeli occupation?
“The Oslo agreement was a catastrophe for the Palestinian people,” said Ahmed Daraghmeh, 26, a clerk from Tubas, in the northern West Bank, who was in Jericho to pick up a friend being released from an Israeli jail. “There is no work. I work for the Palestinian Authority, even though I am against it.”
Without a sense of whom Ahmed blames, this quote is about as useless at it is banal. Does he oppose the PA from the left – ie, they’re a bunch of belligerent fascists who screwed up the chances for peace – or from the right – ‘they don’t fight hard enough to destroy Israel, don’t sacrifice the Palestinian people enough…’
That the Palestinian Authority has endured and the peace process has collapsed attests to how much Israel has gained.
Here we go. The trap is sprung. The classic trope of conspiracy: cui bono? to whom the benefit? If one side benefits and the other loses, then they must have intended that from the start. Why does this sound so much like the Palestinian position, presented as news…?
Oslo made the Palestinians responsible for policing themselves in the West Bank, which has led to vast improvements in Israeli security from terrorism in recent years at little cost to Israel. It gave the authority responsibility for providing services like sanitation and hospitals that would otherwise cost Israel, as the occupying power, hundreds of millions of dollars. And it has allowed Israel to postpone, seemingly indefinitely, a broader withdrawal from the West Bank.
Wow. So all those things that bring Palestinians dignity – taking care of their own people – and all those things that would have been interpreted as condescending imperialism had the Israelis done it – taking care of another people – are just a great trick of Israelis, a Tom Sawyer stunt to get the Palestinians to paint (their own) fence.
Was the PA just this? An Israeli trick pony? Or were they also a deadly problem? If the ‘Peace Process’ failed because of them – which I firmly believe it did – then rather than the PA behaving as directed by the Israelis, they tried their malevolent worst, lied compulsively, and failed to accomplish their goal of destroying Israel. That Israel came out stronger reflects not on their malevolent intentions, but on the resilience of the society, something notably lacking in their neighbors.
What the Palestinians have to show for these 25 years, however, is a much more muddled ledger — and a cautionary tale of how statehood delayed can harden into statehood denied.
Cautionary tale for whom? The Palestinians? Westsplainers, shaking their fingers at the Palestinians and saying, “you may have taken too long to get what you wanted…” as if statehood was what they wanted.
The Israelis? If only you had been more generous then they’d have a state and your state wouldn’t be in the hands of people like Bibi et al., who deny these poor folks their dream?
“If we’re talking about the P.A. as a step toward statehood, then it’s failed miserably,” said Alaa Tartir, a program adviser to Al Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network. “As a step toward self-determination, or toward realization of the Palestinians’ political and human rights, then it’s failed again. But if we’re talking about providing jobs as a bureaucracy, then it’s worked.”

Deep trouble and dim prospects

If Oslo has failed the Palestinians, part of that failure is self-inflicted. An increase in terrorist attacks after Oslo’s signing, followed by the deadly Second Intifada that erupted in 2000, soured many Israelis on peacemaking and eventually led Israel to sideline the process.
True, if a bit disembodied. It was the leaders and the people who cheered them on – 80% approval of suicide terror – that soured Israelis on peacemaking.
Palestinians have been left in a depressing limbo: Even as their leadership has consistently failed to establish a coherent, united front for independence, the authority’s bureaucrats have become steadily more effective at administering, and controlling, the lives of West Bank residents.
Even as their leadership has failed to accomplish an independence… which is low on their priorities, although not as low as the welfare of their people.
Stateless still, the Palestinian people are in deep trouble, their prospects as dim as ever.
Stateless still… as if a state were ever on the horizon, as if a state would have somehow magically produced people who governed of, by, and for the people. Prospects for what? For Western style, positive-sum oriented  productive civil society? What if that’s never been part of the Palestinian leadership’s aspirations. How about prospects for an all-out war that promises to kill many more Israelis than ever before however much it hurts the Palestinians? Considerably brighter prospects for that than for a functioning state.
The body politic is divided, perhaps irrevocably, between the Palestinian Authority, led by President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction, on the West Bank, and the Islamic militant group Hamas — which opposed Oslo and seeks the eradication of Israel — in the Gaza Strip. Reconciliation efforts keep failing.
Classic Y2KMind, completely oblivious to the fundamental contradictions in its superficial patter. If all the Palestinians have in their political culture is a range between the PA and Hamas, then there’s no future for them as imagined by the authors, some kind of state-promoted prosperity. Both are irredentist; neither will make peace with Israel; both will sacrifice the people for their political goals. The chimera journalists so often hold out for “reconciliation” between the two… as if that would lead to a “coherent, united front for independence,” is just not in the cards. But of course, as long as we hold out for an impossible reconciliation that will lead to an impossible state, we don’t have explain what’s really happening.
Mr. Abbas, in his 80s and ailing, has no clear successor. Elected just once, in 2005, he is now in the 14th year of what was to have been a four-year term. Having cast out his critics, he is increasingly repressive of dissent, even on Facebook. He rules his dwindling domain by decree.
Not by accident this miserable ending… just his version of Arafat’s descent into a wretched death, the result of a man who was never honest with anyone, especially to his Western interlocutors, who followed the logic of his lies: pretend to negotiate, refuse any concessions to actually make peace, encourage the worst instincts among his own people, and hang bitterly to his dwindling empire.
In Israel, the peace camp that backed Oslo has withered from waves of violence. The dominant right wing debates whether merely to manage the occupation in perpetuity or to declare victory and annex much of the West Bank.
“Perpetuity” seems to mean any time period longer than… now. A generation from now, after Westerners shed their Y2KMind and make moral demands on the Palestinians (like not teaching hatred and not killing their daughters)… that’s like, forever.
The number of Israeli settlers there, in what much of the world considers a violation of international law, has more than tripled, to about 400,000. Another 200,000 live in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians claim as their future capital.
Love that formula: “Which the Palestinians claim for their future capital…” or “this settlement is built on land Palestinians want for a future state,” as if that’s all they want (just East Jerusalem), and Israeli presence there is the key impediment to peace… as if they didn’t think of Tel Aviv as a settlement.
With the Arab world largely uninterested in coming to the Palestinians’ aid,
And why do you think that is?
President Trump has been overturning the fundamental axioms of everyone who has tried to broker peace.
Written as if jettisoning the “fundamental axioms of everyone who has tried to broker peace” – and failed miserably – were somehow a scandalous direction to turn.
He boasts of having taken Jerusalem “off the table” by recognizing it as Israel’s capital, is working to minimize the problem of refugees by trying to strip their descendants of refugee status, and has refused even to endorse the two-state solution, the goal that led the Palestinians to Oslo in the first place.
Impressive list of horrors, all violations of the goal the Palestinians, so we’re assured, wanted from the get-go — the two state solution. Y2KMind at its finest: the projection of good intentions to Palestinians, the blame on Israel. No place for the possibility that the peace efforts have failed till now, because the peace-makers believed they were bringing the Palestinians to the table with a two-state solution, when that is precisely what they could not, would not accept.
All of which leaves the Palestinians stuck, having pursued the Oslo dream as far as an antechamber only to conclude that the cramped room has no exit.
Poor Palestinians… who followed “the Oslo dream” in vain. How bitter and desperate they must be, now that they don’t have their own state alongside Israel. Except that the Palestinian leaders who dream this way are mostly the mental construct of the negotiators of the perpetual failure: Palestinian demopaths and their Western dupes.
Oslo’s security arrangement — which gave the Palestinians responsibility for internal security and, in coordination with Israel, fighting terrorism — undergirds that trap. The deal reduced the need for Israeli soldiers to patrol hostile areas of the West Bank, and protected the authority’s leadership against Hamas.
Now it’s explicit. The trap Israel sprung was like what Atlas tried to do to Heracles: hold this a second (the sky/internal security), while I split. In a fine example of humanitarian racism, our authors seem to think it’s a nasty turn to ask Palestinian authorities to be responsible for policing the behavior of their populations and to repress murderous behaviors, especially where their neighbors are concerned. Isn’t that what the leader of a civil society is supposed to do? Are the authors somehow unhappy that Israel doesn’t have the burden of repressing another people?
Of course they key to this attitude is in the principles of Y2KMind, which holds as a retrospective principle that the Israelis didn’t plan to give the Palestinians their own country. So getting them to suppress Hamas (and other expressions of resistance to Israeli occupation), is just using them as a political shield from the anger the Israelis create.
On the other hand, if the Israeli and Palestinian leadership really did want the Palestinians to run their own lives decently (for which there is ample evidence), then this is a perfectly legitimate and fair demand the Israelis made on their Palestinian partners: you are the ones to control your own populations. That such efforts involved a brutality that Israelis in principle rejected, reflects mostly on the violence embedded in Palestinian culture, long before there was any “occupation.”
But it also cast the Palestinian security forces, and leadership, as collaborators in the eyes of many Palestinians who see little gain from having helped Israel protect itself. Seven in 10 Palestinians want to stop security coordination, according to a new poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.
No one says people are wise, especially ones who can be driven by war propaganda to favor suicide terrorism against your enemy’s civilians by a ratio of 4 to 1. They security forces are seen as collaborators in the eyes of irredentists who want a total war with Israel. Anyone who wants a civil society doesn’t want religious thugs running around armed. As Tariq Halabi (quoted below) put it: “If it weren’t for the Palestinian Authority, people would be killing each other, left, right and center.” The first victims of terrorists are not their enemies, but the terrorists’ own people – dissidents, women, minorities, people who want out.
Economically, too, the current arrangement serves Israel’s interests: The authority’s foreign donors subsidize government services on the West Bank, relieving Israel of the obligation. Palestinians exist on Israeli goods, food, fuel and electricity. And rising consumer debt is only cementing the status quo, experts say.
Experts say it “cements the status quo”? Which experts? People for whom the frustrating of Palestinian irredentism is bad? How about, “creating the kind of economic incentives that will lead the Palestinian majority to prefer a peaceful and prosperous civil society alongside Israel over an impoverished one at war with her”?
“You have a whole group of Palestinians in the West Bank who are dependent on P.A. jobs for their car payments and their mortgages,” said Nathan Thrall, the director of the Arab-Israeli Project at International Crisis Group, “and they look with real fear at the possibility of Oslo, which is to say the P.A., collapsing.”
OMG, those evil Israelis, making life so good for their enemies that they don’t want war to mess things up! How nefarious. Do these people view the repression of Hamas and other groups dedicated to assaulting Israeli civilians, and any Palestinians that they see as collaborating, as collaborators?

The blame game

Eli, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, sprawls across six hilltops amid Palestinian villages and farmland. Tomas Munita for The New York Times
Apportioning blame occupies a cottage industry of analysts, ex-negotiators, lobbyists and partisans.
In fact, both sides have failed to pursue or engage meaningfully in peace talks since an Obama administration attempt to restart negotiations imploded in 2014.
The “both sides” meme is the resort of lazy journalists. (Along with, “if we’re being criticized by both sides we must be doing something right.”)
In fact the Israeli team engaged earnestly and intensively with Obama’s negotiators, only to find to their amazement that the US team had not even met with the Palestinian side, instead trying to get as many concessions as possible from Israel first. Then when they went to the Palestinians, Abbas threw a temper tantrum and drove them from the room. One would not know any of this from the authors’ formulation.
And both sides, early on, undermined what in retrospect was an extremely fragile achievement.
 Again with the “both sides”
It was a right-wing Israeli extremist who massacred 29 Muslims in Hebron in 1994, setting off a first wave of bombings, and another who assassinated Mr. Rabin in 1995, gravely imperiling Oslo.
Why begin with Israel (as if Baruch Goldstein came out of nowhere, as if Palestinian terror attacks had not been going on for a long time, and killed his best friend, as if the Arabs in the Cave of the Patriarchs had not been repeatedly yelling “Slaughter the Jews”)?
Why refer anonymously to the “first wave of [Palestinian] bombings”? How can one compare one right-wing Israeli extremist, denounced by almost the entire spectrum of Israeli society, including settlers, with dozens of Palestinian suicide terrorists who had substantial support at the highest levels of society?
It was Israel that halted agreed-upon withdrawals from occupied territory, leaving itself in full control of 60 percent of the West Bank. Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza was so abrupt that critics say it contributed to the Hamas takeover.
By starting the list of “both sides” hampered the peace process, we get responses as causes. The reason Israel balked at further withdrawals had to do with how the Palestinians exploited the earlier withdrawals. Instead it’s again, presented as a strategy for keeping land.
As for the remark about Gaza, the reason it was unilateral was because there was no one to negotiate with; and Hamas would have taken over, no matter what.
And Israel has expanded settlements, not only seizing more land but also demoralizing its Palestinian neighbors, said Daniel C. Kurtzer, a former American ambassador to Israel. “On one side of the road is a Palestinian village, and on the other side is a brand-new Israeli town with red-roofed houses, swimming pools, greenery and trees, and on a commanding hill,” he said.
All of which could be theirs had they said yes to Oslo Peace.
But there is also much for the Palestinians to rue in their own decisions and actions.
Once again, assuming that the Palestinians rued spoiling a two-state land-for-peace deal.
Whatever the justification, Palestinian violence crippled the peace process and led to other lasting setbacks: Israel’s re-invasion of West Bank cities in 2002, when it destroyed much the authority had built,
As if what it had built was an infrastructure for a civil society, rather than one for war and terrorism.
and its construction of a barrier wall that bred resentment, entrenched some land grabs, and — in achieving the laudable goal of reducing terrorist attacks — allowed Israelis to largely tune out the Palestinians and the occupation altogether.
In 2002, around the time of the terror campaign referred to somewhat euphemistically as “Palestinian violence” there was an exchange between a Palestinian psychiatrist from Gaza, and the former head of the Shin Beit (Shabak), reported by Ami Ayalon in the film The Gatekeepers.

At some point, I was making myself a cup of coffee and I was approached by a Palestinian acquaintance named Iyad Satay, a Doctor of Psychiatry. He said, “Ami, we finally defeated you. “ I said to him, “Are you mad? What do you mean, defeated us? “Hundreds of you are getting killed. At this rate thousands of you will get killed.You’re about to lose whatever tiny bit of a state you have and you’ll lose your dream of statehood. What kind of victory is that?” 

He said to me, “Ami, I don’t understand you. You still don’t understand us. For us, victory is seeing you suffer. That’s all we want. The more we suffer, the more you’ll suffer. Finally, after 50 years, we’ve reached a balance of power, a balance, your F-16 versus our suicide bomber.” lyad Saraj’s statement gave me a very clear insight. I suddenly understood the suicide bomber phenomenon. I suddenly understood our reaction very differently. How many operations did we launch because we hurt, because when they blow up buses it really hurts us and we want revenge? How often have we done that? 

So much here. Ayalon’s Westsplaining to Satay that he and his fellow Palestinians dream of statehood; Satay explaining to Ayalon that they’d rather go blind if only they can poke out one of Israel’s eyes; Ayalon, rather than acknowledging the vast divide between how Palestinians think about the conflict (and their own people’s well-being), doing a we-too self-criticism that erases the gulf separating him from his Palestinian interlocutor.

In hindsight, many analysts say, it was a mistake for the Palestinians to let the Israelis defer talk of core issues of the conflict — permanent borders, the fate of the Palestinian refugees and the Palestinian demand for a capital in Jerusalem — until final-status talks.
The whole reason these things were delayed was so that both sides could build up trust in each other through cooperation. Had any of these issues – permanent borders, “right of return”, Jerusalem divided – been addressed right away there would have been no negotiations because whatever Israel gave (including dividing Jerusalem) wouldn’t have been enough for the irredentists they were negotiating with. To present this as a mistake in which the Palestinians let Israel get away with stuff they should have demanded, shows a complete lack of understanding. Caution: Y2KMind at work.
It was a mistake not to insist on an explicit clause in the interim agreements freezing further Israeli settlement expansion where the Palestinians envisaged their state.
That may be true, although not having done so, gave the Palestinians a great excuse for the failure of the talks – complain about settlement “where [Westsplainers imagined] Palestinians envisaged their state.”
And it was a mistake for the Palestinians to bargain away recognition of the state of Israel’s right to exist, and a renunciation of violence, for little more than Israeli recognition of the Palestine Liberation Organization as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

That’s a double whopper. On the one hand, the Palestinians never recognized Israel. Arafat wrote a letter in English and staged a phoney vote that Western reporters went gaga over.  As far as the Palestinian elite was concerned, nothing remotely resembling recognition had ever occurred. On the other hand, it wasn’t mere recognition of the PLO as the legitimate representative (an Israeli mistake), but allowing the PLO back into the territories. After all, as Abd Al-Aziz Shahin, PA Minister of Supplies noted shortly before Camp David:

“The Palestinian people accepted the Oslo Accords as a first step and not as a permanent settlement, based on the premise that the war and struggle in the land is more efficient than a struggle from a distant land (i.e. Tunisia) … the Palestinian people will continue the revolution until they achieve the goals of the ’65 revolution… (i.e., destruction of Israel)” [Al-Ayyam, May 30, 2000]
That fatal error of letting Arafat back in – which in this NYT account is described by the anodine “recognizing the PLO as the legitimate representative” – is the greatest mistake Israel ever made. And Arafat had every intention of using the “in” to make life miserable for the Israelis:
“After the Oslo Accords were signed, I went to Tunisia to visit him [Arafat]… [Arafat] told me: ‘By Allah, I will drive them crazy. I will make these [Oslo] Accords a disaster for them. It won’t be in my lifetime, but you will see the Israelis run away from Palestine. Have a little patience.’”[Abd Al-Bari ‘Atwan, Al-Quds Al-Arabi Editor-in-Chief on ANB TV (Lebanon), Feb. 16, 2006]
Among other things, it allowed the PA to poison the minds of an entire generation.
“What they got,” said Mr. Kurtzer, who remembers a sinking feeling evident on the faces of some Palestinians at the 1993 ceremony, “was poorly negotiated.”
Others question the wisdom of entrusting the P.L.O. with any counterterrorism responsibility early on. “Arafat didn’t do enough to stop terror,” said David Hacham, who represented the Israeli defense ministry in the Oslo process. “Either because he couldn’t, or because he didn’t see it as important enough at the time.”
Or maybe, genius, because he approved of it, and was only too happy to let it happen as long as Westsplainers were there to explain how hard it was for him to stop it.
The Israelis also soon realized that the Palestinians were not ready to bend on their principles and even denied Jewish historical claims in Jerusalem. At the Camp David talks in the summer of 2000, the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Barak, made what most Israelis considered a generous offer for a final agreement, but the talks collapsed.
That’s quite a formulation: “not ready to bend to Israeli principles…” It’s a perfect echo of the Palestinian honor-shame formula in which any compromise with the Israelis is seen as a humiliation. For example, Hanan Ashrawi, much admired as a moderate, explained why she opposed the effort to formally recognize Israel in 1996 as the accords called for, because it “will appear to be a succumbing to Israeli dictate.
“There was really a feeling we were beginning a new chapter in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Mr. Hacham said of Oslo’s beginnings. But by 2000 it was “a dialogue of the deaf,” he said.
“Arafat was not ready to cross the Rubicon.”
The one thing that people with Y2KMind will not tell you is the possibility that this was true from the start: Arafat was never ready to cross the Rubicon. If that’s the case, then… the whole Peace Process was a sham and the Israelis were not to blame for its failure. Does not compute.
Here’s Christian Amanpour, Westplaining to Arafat what he wants for his people in early September 2000, just after his “no” at Camp David and before his “yes” to the “al-Aqsa Intifada:
AMANPOUR: But you know that many, many people would prefer… to have food in their stomachs than talk about slogans. In other words, the people of Palestine, your people, want an economic future…
AMANPOUR: … they want proper lives…
ARAFAT: No, no…
AMANPOUR: … they want…
ARAFAT: You have to remember, we Palestinians, our first target is our land…
And by “our land,” he didn’t mean what so many journalists will assure you is ’67 borders.
Some Israelis argue that the Palestinians have still not tempered their ideology sufficiently to persuade them that Palestinian statehood need not threaten Israeli identity. “What is the reason Netanyahu views a Palestinian state as a security risk?” said Ofer Zalzberg, an analyst at Crisis Group. “He thinks Palestinians will continue to teach their children that Zionism is unjust and that the state next door should not exist as a state for the Jewish people.”
Thanks for including that. But why not bother mentioning that what they teach their children and their adults is a genocidal hatred? Or must the NYT continue the tradition so shamefully begun by William Orme in October 2000, when, in an article on incitement, he cut a quote from a PA appointed Sheikh to exclude the genocidal material? (Section in bold, cited in the NYT article.)

The Jews are the Jews. Whether Labor or Likud, the Jews are Jews. They do not have any moderates or any advocates of peace. They are all liars. They must be butchered and must be killed… The Jews are like a spring as long as you step on it with your foot it doesn’t move. But if you lift your foot from the spring, it hurts you and punishes you… It is forbidden to have mercy in your hearts for the Jews in any place and in any land. Make war on them any place that you find yourself. Any place that you meet them, kill them. PA TV, October 13, 2000

The least-bad option

Palestinian university students at one of the bustling new restaurants in Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank.Erin Trieb for The New York Times
Despite the leadership’s failures, many Palestinians still accept the authority as the least-bad option — although, given its longevity, nearly equaling the 26 years of pre-Oslo occupation from after the 1967 war until 1993, it is the only reality many of them know.
Well they do hear from their family and friends in Gaza, where they get a much more honest picture of the horror that Hamas imposes.
Propped up with around $500 million a year in foreign aid, about 12 percent of its budget, the authority is the biggest Palestinian employer, providing livelihoods for around 150,000 workers and their dependents, roughly a quarter of the population. After the chaos of two uprisings, many credit it with restoring law and order.
Ain’t that ironic. Imagine where “Palestine” would be today had Arafat crossed the Rubicon in 2000 and started governing his people rather than toss them into the fire of his ambitions.
“If it weren’t for the Palestinian Authority, people would be killing each other, left, right and center,” said Tariq Halabi, 18, as he sat with friends in the hardscrabble Jalazoun refugee camp near a memorial to residents killed by Israeli fire.
Hmmm. Sounds like this young man thinks the PA are a bunch of quisling collaborators…
Many trace the authority’s governance problems to Mr. Arafat. As he siphoned off funds to buy loyalty and build militias, Israel and the United States vainly hoped he would prove at least a capable strongman, only to watch as he failed to suppress violence by Hamas and other militant factions.
Perfect Y2KMind formulation. Alternative description:
Many trace the authority’s governance problems to Mr. Arafat. As he siphoned off funds to buy loyalty and build militias, strong-arm rivals and prepare for when his armies would come out of the Trojan Horse, Israel and the United States vainly hoped he would prove at least a capable strongman, only to watch in denial as he quietly collaborated with violence by Hamas and other militant factions, including his own Tanzim.
Beginning in 2002, Salam Fayyad, an American-educated former International Monetary Fund official, began to turn things around, instilling transparency and accountability as finance minister and then prime minister. By 2011, the United Nations declared the authority’s government functions ready for statehood — to no avail.
What on earth does this mean “to no avail”? Fayyad was indeed (another) hope of the Westplainers. He failed because Palestinian political culture is profoundly hostile to any principles like transparency. He never had a chance.
Palestinian Authority officials blame Israel for many of its problems, including the absence of democracy and economic progress. “The Israeli occupation controls the air we breathe in the West Bank or Gaza,” said Jamal Rajoub, the deputy governor of Jericho. “The P.A. wants to improve the lives of the people, but everything is tied up with the Israeli occupation. The Palestinians are not free. We cannot open our wings and fly unless we are blind to reality.”
As if were the political elites in Palestine left to their own devices they would immediately create the first Arab democracy.
This is a classic trope, the ‘Alibi-Ike’ riff Palestinians so love. It’s not our fault! The Occupation is the cause of all ills, including their own honor-killings. Here the (Palestinian) head of al Jazeera blames Israel for the lack of democracy in the entire Arab world. At least he has the decency to admit it’s a psychological problem.
And the authority’s supporters say that for all its faults, it has improved life for most Palestinians.
“Most people, including me, will say that after 25 years of Oslo we have nothing politically,” said Dr. Nasser Anani,the director of Jericho’s public hospital, which was built and equipped mostly with Japanese and American funds. “But life is better.”
Government health insurance is $22 a month, dozens of schools have been built, and a driving license can be had in about 10 minutes. “I now have a Palestinian passport,” Dr. Anani said. “Even the United States recognizes it.”
But many revile the authority — complaining of nepotism and corruption — as much as they may acknowledge its efficiency here or there.
“What Oslo created,” said Mr. Tartir of Al-Shabaka, “was a clear benefit for some Palestinians and the political elite. Everyone else has to live with the consequences, but doesn’t really have a say.”

‘They promised us a state’

Oslo gave the Palestinian police responsibility for internal security, from terrorism to traffic tickets.Erin Trieb for The New York Times
That voicelessness has grown more acute as political divisions have distended Mr. Abbas’s stomach for repressing opposition. Palestinians have been arrested for criticizing him; civil-society groups linked to his rivals have had their bank accounts frozen. Unauthorized demonstrations are brutally broken up.
“It’s a jungle,” said Ahmed Rashid, 22, an unemployed Jalazoun resident, who said he spent time in an Israeli prison in 2015 for throwing stones, then in the authority’s Jericho jail in 2017 on vague security charges. “The strong eat the weak.”
Good description of the “strong horse” Arab political culture.
Half of Palestinians view the authority as a burden, the new survey found. Those aged 18 to 22 tend to have no trust in the elite and are more supportive of a one-state outcome than a two-state solution, seeing a corrupt and authoritarian state as “not worth having,” said Khalil Shikaki, the director of the Ramallah-based polling center.
What does that mean? That they’d rather be part of an Israeli state (far less corruption)? That they’d prefer Israeli occupation to Palestinian “self-governance”? Y2KMind cannot even mouth such thoughts.
“It’s all lies,” said Firial Qarawil, 53, a nurse from Awarta. “They promised us a state. Where is the state? All the agreements and all the authorities, including ours, have taken us back more than 60 years.”
Who promised the state. The Westerners? Not Arafat.
With Mr. Abbas and his lieutenants focused on surviving the Trump administration, others outside his circle are urging Palestinians to re-examine their increasingly undemocratic political system — and to reboot it, if not smash and rebuild it entirely.
Sounds very good to this Israeli who would like to see a self-governing democratic Palestinian state.
“Ultimately, the question is how many people on the ground are represented in the political system, and today that’s few,” said Sam Bahour, a Ramallah businessman. “Without giving the youth an opportunity to breathe, politically, they will remain in the streets. And that will lead to something negative.”

In Jericho, resignation, more than anger, seemed the prevailing mood. “We sleep with our doors open,” Said Hamis Ermalieh, 52, a school bus driver, said as he looked out over the city from his hilltop home. “But life is difficult.”

His wife, Kamayil, 48, said of the Palestinian Authority, “It’s better than nothing.”

It was twilight, and the neon lights on a Ferris wheel flickered on at an empty amusement park in the distance, twinkling like the Las Vegas that Jericho had never become.

How ironic. One of the most appalling videos made by the PA in the early years of the intifada was of the ‘martyr’ Al Durah beckoning Palestinian youth to join him in heaven (by becoming martyrs themselves), depicted as a playground with a Ferris Wheel. Here in Jericho there was a chance at a real Ferris Wheel in exchange for a peace that no Palestinian leader has yet had the courage to embrace. Y2KMind, however, has limited capacity for irony, and much for wistful sighs.

Rami Nazzal contributed reporting.

Follow David M. Halbfinger on Twitter: @halbfinger. Follow Isabel Kershner on Twitter: @IKershner.

A version of this article appears in print on Sept. 13, 2018 of the New York edition with the headline: 25 Years After Handshake, Mideast Peace Seems Remote as Ever.

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