But what if the Palestinians are the victims?

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Roger Cohen praises Fayyad, and pushes the Obama-Clinton efforts. The settlement deal with Netanyahu is “positive but a detail.” (I’m not sure what he means by that.) His take on the Palestinian change of attitude reminds me a little of patronizing comments on lamentable Jewish attitudes of yesteryear. Of course then we got the IDF! But really I don’t know that it is self-pitying and a cult of victimhood for people to talk about the denial of their basic rights for six decades:

“A bit of an epiphany,” in the words of one [Clinton] aide, came in March 2009 on the road to Ramallah. “We drove in a motorcade and you could see the settlements high up, and the brutality of it was so stark,” this aide said. “Everyone got quite silent and as we approached Ramallah there were these troops in berets. They were so professional, we thought at first they were Israel Defense Forces. But, no, they were Palestinians, this completely professional outfit, and it was clear this was something new.”

That “something” is fundamental: the transition from a self-pitying, self-dramatizing Palestinian psyche, with all the cloying accoutrements of victimhood, to a self-affirming culture of pragmatism and institution-building. The shift is incomplete. But it has won Clinton over. And it’s powerful enough to pose a whole new set of challenges to Israel: Palestine is serious now.

Another moment came in September 2010 when Clinton held a meeting with Fayyad that threw her schedule off because it ran so long. Fayyad is Mr. Self-Empowerment, the Palestinian who, at last, has put facts before “narrative,” growth before grumbling, roads before ranting, and security before everything. Clinton, I was told, has “strong views” on Fayyad. She said last week she had “great confidence” in him.

By the way, here is Brant Rosen on those details of the settlement freeze deal with Netanyahu. I begin with Rosen’s quotation of Mark Lynch.

From Mideast analyst Mark Lynch (aka “Abu Aardvark”) writing in September 2009:

Indeed, “borders first” negotiations under current conditions — especially if Gaza is ignored and the Jersualem area either deferred or ratified — might well lead not to a two state solution but to what I’ve heard described as a “five statelet” outcome: Israel, Gaza, Ramallahstan, Nablusstan in the northern West Bank and Hebronstan in the southern West Bank.  Does anyone really think that this would be the foundation for an end of conflict agreement?

I was full agreement with Mr. Aardvark then as now. But now it’s one year later and it seems to be deja vu all over again.

While the US again pushes “Borders First,” other core issues are being completely ignored: Israel is still Judaizing East Jerusalem with abandon – and as for the crisis in Gaza, well, no one seems to consider the plight of that region issue even germane to the discussion any more.


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