Tuesday, December 29, 2020




In 1958, a hugely popular novel named The Ugly American was published. It described how American foreign diplomats were tone deaf to the countries they were stationed in, with little interest in learning the local culture, and therefore they were regarded as obnoxious, pretentious blowhards.

Joseph Massad has just unwittingly published The Ugly Palestinian.

Writing in Middle East Eye, the Columbia professor complains that Arab regimes have always put their own interests above that of Palestinians:

In contrast with the Arab peoples who have ceaselessly shown solidarity with the Palestinians since Britain issued the Balfour Declaration in 1917, Arab regimes, as I have written in Middle East Eye before, have always put their own national interests first and had established ties and collaborated with Israel since 1948 - in the case of the Hashemite Amir Faisal since 1919.

...King Farouk of Egypt entered the war in 1948 not because he placed Palestinian interests ahead of Egypt’s, but as analysts have shown, on account of his rivalry with the Iraqi monarchy for hegemony over the post-colonial Arab world. 

Not only did Nasser not launch a single war against Israel, but also all of Egypt’s subsequent wars were fought to defend Egypt, not the Palestinians. In 1956 and in 1967, Israel invaded Egypt and occupied Sinai.

...Rather than sacrifice their national interests to defend the Palestinians, the Arab regimes have used every opportunity to sell out Palestinian rights to advance their own interests without respite.
Massad's cluelessness equals that of the American diplomats of 1950s Southeast Asia ridiculed in The Ugly American. 

Of course every responsible national leader is going to place their own national interests above those of anybody else. That is their primary responsibility! 

But Palestinians like Massad have drunk the Kool-Aid of the Arab rhetoric where they have claimed for the past 72 years that they put the Palestinian issue above their own. As he notes, they never have - but Palestinians like Massad act as if they should.

This has resulted in a Palestinian leadership and populace that have been taught that they can rely on others to do the hard work to get them what they want, while they just sit back and wait in relative comfort compared to much of the Arab world. Arab leaders should fight wars for Palestinians, they should exert diplomatic pressure for Palestinians, they should boycott Israel for Palestinians, they should forego the benefits of peace with Israel for Palestinians. 

Arabs never cared about Palestinians. They always used them as pawns to help destroy Israel. The cynicism was obvious to all, with Syrian and Lebanese leaders pretending that keeping Palestinians stateless was for their own good, to help pressure Israel for a "return" that will never happen. 

Astute Palestinians would have noticed this. They would have realized decades ago that if they want a state, they would have to actually work for it, sweat for it, negotiate for it, compromise with Israel for it - not wait for their Arab brethren to do the work for them.

But Palestinian leaders and apologists like Massad just don't get it. They think that the ICC and the ICJ and the UN and the EU will save them just like they used to think that Arab leaders will go to war for them. Instead of building the institutions of statehood, they outsourced all the hard work to Europeans and NGOs. A glance at Palestinian government websites shows that many of them are empty shells, not updated in years, because they never sowed interest in governing themselves or building a government infrastructure.

The only time the world has seen Palestinians being proactive is with terror attacks. 

Arab nations finally got fed up with the Hamas/Fatah split, and doubly so when the PA rejected peace plans in the 2000s and a peace framework from John Kerry during the Obama administration - the one president who was the most friendly to Palestinians and antipathetic to Israel. They threw even that away.

Meanwhile, Israel got stronger - not just militarily but economically. Boycotting a regional superpower made less and less sense for Arabs. Jordan and Egypt needed Israel's natural gas. The UAE and Bahrain want Israel's high tech expertise. The policy of following Palestinian demands of boycotting Israel has been increasingly self-defeating. 

Massad is complaining that the Arabs are not prioritizing Palestinian interests above their own. Only someone who is spoiled and out of touch would even dare make such a demand. Worse, Massad is denigrating the huge amounts of monetary and diplomatic aid that Arab nations have given Palestinians over the past 50+ years. 

Even Columbia professors can have the emotional intelligence of a child, thinking that the world revolves around them.

Massad is using the old playbook, trying to shame the Arab world into giving Palestinians unlimited, no-strings attached support. He has no idea that the world has changed. 

Massad's diatribe will not impress any Arab leader. On the contrary,  they will be pushed even further away from sympathizing with Palestinians. 





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