The first thing I would want to notice is this. The Palestinian people have a much more justifiable grievance against Israel than even the most alienated Sunni slum-dweller has against the Coalition in Iraq. The Arab citizens of former mandate Palestine live, at best, as second-class citizens in Israel. At worst, they live in vile refugee camps in other states. In the middle, in Jerusalem and Gaza and the West Bank, they experience occupation and colonization and annexation. More than that, they have been told that their very presence is an inconvenience, since the land was awarded by God to the Jews. President Bush in his most devout moments has not claimed Mesopotamia as holy to Americans. It's often said rather glibly that the Palestinians have missed numerous chances for peace (and I couldn't agree more—see my obituary for Arafat), but it should not be forgotten that for years the leading politicians of Israel refused to deal at all with the PLO, and that some of them refused even to recognize the existence of a Palestinian people in the first place.Hmmm... I wonder if those people "who say they are dedicated to telling the truth about Israel" are going to link to Hitch's story? Or will the find it all too terribly incovinient?
Faced with different forms of occupation and dispossession, Palestinians opted for different tactics. Some of them, in Israel "proper," elected serious MPs to the Knesset, usually men of leftist and secular backgrounds. Others, in the territories, pursued various strategies of civil resistance, very often non-violent as in the case of the highly mobilized first intifadah of the early and mid-1980s. Still others, exiled permanently, resorted to kamikaze-type attacks on Israel but also to attacks on civilians and, most opprobriously of all, to indiscriminate attacks on the citizens of other nations. Many of the criminals in the latter category were paid agents or clients of Arab dictatorships, as was Arafat himself. Sheer disaster began to loom when, under the influence of militant Islam, the kamikaze style was imported especially to Gaza and took the form of suicide-murder, often in Israel itself as well as the occupied areas. But that did not begin to happen until the occupation had persisted for more than a quarter of a century