On Sunday, CNN's Jake Tapper suggested that Palestinian leaders "validate" hatred toward Israel while discussing the tone of American leaders following the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, which, according to authorities, a suspected white supremacist perpetrated. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.), a Palestinian-American, took offense to Tapper's comment. "Comparing Palestinian human rights advocates to terrorist white nationalists is fundamentally a lie," she tweeted the next day. "Palestinians want equality, human dignity & to stop the imprisonment of children. White supremacy is calling for the *domination* of one race w/ the use of violence." Tlaib seemed to imply that Palestinian hatred, incitement, and terrorism against Israel are understandable, if not moral and legitimate, because such behavior is meant to achieve equality and dignity, while white supremacists use their rhetoric and actions to seek racial domination.
Like-minded progressives, most notably Reps. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.), have similarly argued that Palestinians have little choice but to respond to Israeli "crimes" with violence, and that Palestinians—and their ardent, progressive supporters in the West—simply want equal rights for the Palestinian people. These voices ignore history, which completely contradicts their arguments, not to mention actual reality in Israel and the Palestinian territories, where the situation on the ground also contradicts their arguments. Instead, they focus on personal stories to make the case that Israel is evil and the Palestinians are noble victims. But even here, playing with the public's emotions, the anti-Israel progressives lose the debate. Two recent anecdotes show why and reveal the problem at the center of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Recent Stories in National Security
The first story culminated on Tuesday, when Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri awarded residency to a Palestinian man who saved the lives of a rabbi's children in the West Bank. The unnamed man, 28, and his wife were traveling near their home in Hebron on July 1, 2016, when they found an overturned vehicle that had gone off the road. Terrorists had sprayed the car of Rabbi Miki Mark with bullets, murdering him, seriously injuring his wife, Chava, and hurting their two teenage children. The Palestinian man and his wife immediately stopped and helped the trapped family evacuate the car, before administering first aid and comforting them until emergency medical services arrived.
"I took the boy and I hugged him. I gave him some water and applied iodine, and just kept telling him that everything was going to be OK," the man said. "It doesn't matter to me if it was an accident or a terror attack; it's irrelevant. These are people, children, who need help, and if I can help, I will help them."
"The girl told me, ‘God sent an Arab to help us,'" he added.
Soon, more Palestinians arrived at the scene. At least one joined the couple in helping Mark's family, but others threatened to kill the survivors, forcing the man to warn onlookers that, if they approached the car, they would "see what I am capable of."
After the man's heroism became more widely known, fellow Palestinians called him a traitor and a collaborator. His boss even fired him. Ultimately, as the Jewish News Syndicate reported:
The man feared for his life and sought refuge in Israel while his wife and young child remained near Hebron. He received a work visa, but it was not renewed last year, rendering him homeless and unable to work, despite two years of legal efforts on his behalf by the pro-Israel Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center.
His situation was ultimately publicized by Israel's Channel 12 news, leading multiple Israelis, including leaders in Judea and Samaria such as Har Hebron regional council head Yochai Damari and head of the Shomron Regional Council Yossi Dagan, to push for him to receive Israeli residency, a designation that was bestowed not only on him on Tuesday, but also on his wife and son.
The second story occurred in late June. The White House unveiled the economic aspects of its plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and then, a few days later, led a Palestinian-focused conference known as the "Peace to Prosperity" workshop in Bahrain. The plan would provide $50 billion to the Palestinians (who would receive more than half) and neighboring Arab countries for health care, education, business incentives, infrastructure, and more. And yet, despite the Palestinian territories' economic struggles, the Palestinian Authority (PA) immediately rejected an invitation to the conference, while a number of Arab states attended. Beyond a small number of businessmen, no Palestinians attended the workshop. Even worse, when the conference ended and those businessmen came home, the PA arrested one of them, Saleh Abu Mayala of Hebron, simply for attending an event meant to advance the Palestinian economy. He was later released following American pressure, but not before the PA attempted to arrest a second Palestinian businessman, Ashraf Ghanam, who attended the conference, in Hebron. He managed to flee to an Israeli-controlled part of the city before the PA's security forces could grab him.
"The Palestinian Authority does not want peace," another businessman told the Jerusalem Post. "The PA's actions show that we don't have democracy. Even if we belong to the opposition, there's no reason why we should be arrested. In Israel, the prime minister consults with the leader of the opposition on sensitive issues. [PA president] Mahmoud Abbas, on the other hand, orders the arrest of anyone who disagrees with him."
Speaking to the Times of Israel, another Palestinian businessman asked, "Why is it that people working on advancing peace and building a better future receive this type of treatment?"
In the first story, Palestinian society demonstrated that its hatred of Israel is so visceral, so deeply entrenched, that anyone who helps Israelis—even children facing possible death—should be ostracized, if not hurt or killed. In the second story, Palestinian leadership showed that its opposition to peace with Israel is so intense that it would rather arrest innocent civilians than receive billions of dollars and improve the lives of its people. Taken together, both stories show that what Palestinians really want as a people is to destroy Israel, not "dignity" or "equality," to use Tlaib's words. Indeed, the Palestinians care more about hurting Israelis than helping themselves.
Just look at the Palestinian Authority's priorities. Its security forces are only receiving half their monthly pay amid the West Bank's dire economic situation, yet the PA continues to reward terrorists and their families with hundreds of millions of dollars. "Even if we have only a penny left, we will give it to the martyrs, the prisoners, and their families," Abbas said last year.
The Palestinians' culture of hate is their main problem and the primary obstacle to peace with Israel. In both Gaza and the West Bank, the Palestinians govern themselves for all intents and purposes and can enjoy dignity and equality if they want them. All the Palestinians have to do is accept that Israel is here to stay as a Jewish state rather than a cancer to be eradicated. Tlaib can try to disguise the truth, but Palestinians' collective hatred is too intense to hide.