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January 01, 1988 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-01-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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18

FRIDAY, JANUARY 1, 1988

v.

cent of the land on the West
Bank and 30 percent of Gaza,
for both security reasons and
for Jewish settlers.
Moreover, Arab land and
water rights have been
severely curtailed and the in-
dustrial base of the territories
remains primitive. In essence,
Israel has been accused of
treating the territories as a
vast reservoir of cheap labor
for Israeli industry and as a
captive market for Israeli
products.
Most Palestinians are
scornful of Israeli claims that
the territories are "on hold"
pending their final disposi-
tion in a peace settlement.
Their vision of reality is that
Israel has no intention of ever
giving up the biblical heart-
land it knows as Judea and
Samaria (the West Bank).
Gratitude is quite evidently
not at the top of the Palestin-
ian agenda today. The fact is
that the wealthier, healthier
and more educated the Pales-
tinians become, the more they
chafe at their Israeli masters.
Better living standards simp-
ly serve to fuel the spiral of
dissent and unrest.
The revolution in the lives
of the Palestinians has given
birth to the 'paradoxical
phenomenon of our times:
what the political scientists
call the revolution of rising
expectations.
Such expectations have
nothing to do with conven-
tional Western concepts of
material success; rather, they
are grounded in demands for
the political expression of
religious and national aspira-
tions.
"It's a well-known Third
World syndrome that is also
evident throughout the Arab
world", says Dr. Yossi Olmert,
a political scientist at the Tel
Aviv University. "What's im-
portant here is that it was the
young people who were out on
the streets throwing the
stones and doing the rioting
— young people who were
born into the occupation, who
know no other reality.
"Unlike their parents, they
have no memories of what it
was like under Jordanian and
Egyptian rule. In comparison,
the Israeli occupation is very
benign, but as far as the
young Palestinians are con-
cerned, it is occupation.
Period?'
They don't compare it with
anything else. "The kids
throwing the stones are rela-
tively well educated. They
read newspapers, watch tele-
vision and they are guided by
the Palestinian intelligentsia
— the lawyers, doctors, engi-
neers — who have been the
greatest beneficiaries of

Israel's drive to improve the
educational standards.
"These people aren't out on
the streets themselves, but
they are motivating and in-
citing others. They are fully
exploiting the built-in con-
straints on Israeli society and
of the international con-
straints on Israel as well.
"They are also very aware
of the debates and schisms
within Israel over the fate of
the occupied territories.
There has never been so
much talk about the subject
as in the past year, and the
Palestinians are very aware of
the impact that the television
scenes of violence and unrest
has on the debate?'
Indeed, some Israelis be-
lieve that they may be enter-
ing their own Vietnam. Just
as Americans were deeply af-

The healthier and
wealthier the
Palestinians
become, the more
they chafe at their
Israeli masters.

fected by the scenes of
violence and devastation from
Vietnam that were carried in-
to their homes every evening
on their television screens, so
too are Israelis, who are dai-
ly having to confront their
own predicament.
"On the other hand," said
one observer, "this con-
tinuous stream of violence
could have the effect of
toughening their resolve and
increasing demands to deal
with the violence by even
more violence; of showing the
Palestinians that they do in-
deed have everything to lose
by rising up against Israel."
In the meantime, the main
item on the Palestinian agen-
da today — indeed, the only
item — is the drive to state-
hood; a drive that is being
fueled by a heady combina-
tion of nationalist and relig-
ious dogma, and one that has
been made extremely bumpy
by the determination of the
Israelis not to let go.
There is, however, a certain
historical inevitability about
what has been happening in
the West Bank and Gaza.
For better or for worse, the
Palestinians have embarked
on a course which, given all
current indications, appears
to be irreversible. The ques-
tion which now is how much
more blood — Palestinian and
Israeli — will have to be shed
before the process runs its
course.

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