Palestinians Are Trapped By Their Own Culture

Palestinians Are Trapped By Their Own Culture – Irshad Manji (Los Angeles Times)

– – Over the last six decades, several offers for an independent state of Palestine have been floated by the British, the Israelis, the Americans, and the UN – Palestinian leaders have rejected every proposal.- – Palestinian culture contains a popular culture of incitement that doesn’t exist in Israel.

– – In June 2003, a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that most Palestinians could not envision a way for their rights to be protected as long as Israel existed. By contrast, the survey found that, among Arab citizens of Israel, a solid majority felt the opposite. What accounts for this difference in attitude?

– – Posters of martyrs plaster the buildings of the West Bank and Gaza. Billboards proclaim their undying honor. Adolescents make up rap tunes to them while expressing hope that one day they will imitate the self-immolators.

– – Both the Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers have encountered protests. Hard-line Israelis resorted to demonstrating and jeering. Hard-line Palestinians resorted to blowing up buses and the people in them. That’s a life-and-death difference in choices. – – Many would argue that choices don’t exist for Palestinians – they’re economically impoverished and desperate. Not according to Mohammed Hindi, the top Gaza leader of Islamic Jihad. “Most of our martyrs were very successful in their earthly lives,” he told me, admitting that what drives so many of today’s suicide bombers isn’t that which the material world has failed to deliver to them but something besides – Palestinian culture’s ideological exploitation of the Koran’s promise of paradise.- – We need to be asking as many tough questions of Palestinian officials as of Israeli ones. Until we do, we’ll always reduce Palestinians to the status of mere victims. And that does nothing to recognize their dignity. Or their capacity for making ethically – and ideologically – sounder choices.

The writer is host of TV Ontario’s “Big Ideas” and the author of The Trouble With Islam: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith.

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