It is unfortunate that many European activists and groups assist the Palestinian leaderships in their delusions, namely that the Palestinian people headed by those leaderships are ready to take up their place in the UN, and in the characterisation of their strongest neighbour as an ‘apartheid’ state. The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) has been especially helpful to Palestine leaderships down this delusional path. Some home-truths directed towards Ramallah and Gaza (capitals of the two very separate ‘Palestines’) wouldn’t go amiss. Not least a simple observation that if they want an independent state – and the principle of Palestinian independence has already been accepted by Israel – there is scant evidence of states actually being built by Palestinians themselves, either in the West Bank or in Gaza.
Let’s take the issue of so called Israeli ‘apartheid’ first. The SPSC and like-minded cronies assert that by defining itself as ‘Jewish’ in character, Israel cannot be democratic, and by defining itself as ‘Jewish’ it is committing the crime of ‘apartheid’. To them, being democratic and ‘Jewish’ in character are impossible to reconcile, and hobble Israel’s diplomatic legitimacy and economic survival. The argument goes that Arab citizens cannot be expected to identify with an Israel which defines itself as having a ‘Jewish’ character… nor can they identify with the ‘Jewish’ symbols of the State of Israel (magen david, and the menorah)… nor can they identify with the name of the state since ‘israel’ means ‘the Jewish people’.
How does this argument and contrived indignation square with the existence of other long-established states claiming both a particular substantial ethnic character and a democratic structure? How does it square with the existence of other long-established states which have symbols and character and names to which minorities within them do not readily identify? Take a look at one of these democracies – Finland.
Finland (or Suomi) is the land and home of the Finns (suomalaiset). It is also the home of a large minority of ethnic Swedes and indigenous Sami people. While each of these minorities differ from the Finns in ethnicity, language and cultural identity, they are all Finnish citizens entitled to equal rights under the law. In Israel too, the civil and religious rights of non-Jewish communities are enshrined in law. Is calling the state of the Finnish people ‘Finland’ (or ‘Suomi’) discriminatory towards the Swedish and Sami people in the state? Slovakia, the land of the Slovak people, and Hungary (Magyarorszag) the land of the Magyars (Hungarians), also have ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural minorities.
Then there are flags too… and symbols. Look at the Swiss flag if not all the Scandinavian ones sporting crosses. In Switzerland 16% of the population is not Christian. In Turkey, Jews and Christians perhaps find it difficult to identify with the Islamic crescent. The flag of Saudi Arabia is green, a traditional colour in Islamic flags, with the Shahada or Muslim creed in large white Arabic script above a white horizontal sabre. The foreign population of Saudi Arabia may exceed 12 million, and though comprehensive statistics for the religious denominations of foreigners are not available, they do include Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and others. Few of these people identify with the state symbols of Saudi Arabia and its flag.
But, back to delusion, the SPSC, and Palestinian leaderships, and the matter of Palestinian state-building, or lack of it. Although the Palestinian Authority (PA) says it wants an independent viable state – and again, Israel has already accepted the ambition of Palestinians to statehood – the PA does not appear to be intent on creating one. It always seems to be the task of others to have to make a Palestinian state viable – Israel perhaps, the international community, the USA maybe. Anyone else can build the foundations of the future state, but not Palestinians themselves and certainly not the Palestinian leadership. Gazans and the Arabs of the West Bank seem more intent on de-legitimising Israel than establishing their own states.
The SPSC and other activist groups are responsible for feeding Palestinian delusions.
[With thanks to the blog: ‘Politically-incorrect politics’]