Sunday, December 09, 2007

PalArab fear of "normalization"

While I do not usually agree with everything Ray Hanania says, this article in Arab News should be read by every Palestinian Arab. Excerpts:
Palestinians I meet always point to the Israeli occupation as the main stumbling block preventing them from achieving independence and driving their oppressive lives. But I think far more obstacles exist that Palestinians are afraid to acknowledge, most that begin right in their own back yards.

Maybe because I was raised in America where tyranny is far more subtle and less violent than the real threats and physical dangers facing people in the Arab and Muslim Worlds. Or, maybe it is also because I am a realist, a state of mind that apparently continues to elude Palestinian society. Palestinians live in the past. Even when they emigrate to the Western countries, they may live physically in their adopted homelands, but they remain mentally imprisoned in “the balad. “The heaviest chains of this self-oppression may in fact be something Palestinians call “normalization.”

“Normalization” is a state of mind in which Palestinians prevent themselves from living in the present so they can dwell in the long lost past. Normalization is the act of refusing to accept reality, insisting that Palestinian existence is not in the present but in the past In this “unreality,” fading memories are more important than the clarity of the present.

Palestinian activists use “Normalization” as a bludgeon to keep Palestinians in line like sheep. Extremists pull the strings of suffering and frustration, throwing down the “normalization” card whenever a Palestinian tries to break free of the mental bondage and address the reality of the Israeli occupation.


I leave Palestine and Israel this trip recognizing that Palestinians are suffering from several layers of occupation, and a self-imposed oppression that has become the excuse for their failings. They say they want peace with Israel, but many deep down can’t accept the damage to their pride that compromise means accepting that their efforts over the past 60 years have been an utter failure caused by their own failed leadership.

While Palestinians are stifled in their aspirations, only miles away, Israelis are enjoying life, growing as a people and flourishing as a people. The ability of Palestinians to establish their own state continues to erode. That the people driving this erosion are Palestinians themselves is most troubling to me. Imprisoned in a wall of ignorance constructed by their own foolish failure to see through the rhetoric and the hatred of the past to the reality of today, Palestinians have only one option. They can either start living in the reality or they can disappear in the past.

He doesn't go far enough - Hanania, for all his candor, is not going to start blaming other Arab nations for their continuing contribution to PalArab misery, which can be remedied easily if the PalArabs were smart. But he is correct when pointing out that even "moderate" Pals have no ability to see things realistically as they wallow in self-pity and victimization - what seems to be a strategy on the part of their leadership, not a consequence of history.