In retrospect, the Palestinian Arab rebellion against Israel, also known as the Intifada, has gained wide respectability within Israel itself.
At the tenth anniversary of the Intifada, an increasing number of Israelis have developed a certain infatuation with the passions of a Palestinian national movement. Indeed, for some strange reason, there is a new Israeli passion to grant a nation-state to its traditional enemy and put aside its traditional hesitancy to grant any such gesture
The new Israeli attitude to Palestinian Arabs conveys a certain presumptuous paternalism. Since the Palestinians long so much for a state of their own, so goes the Israeli paternalistic thinking, and since we in Israel so much want to separate from them, we’ll give them a state, not a real state, but rather more like a toy state, a nation without an army, without control over its skies and certainly without any real sovereignty.
Our native paternalism does not stop with any such insulting idea, but rather with the illusion that Palestinian Arabs will even think of agreeing to it, and that they will thank us for such a gesture and yearn to make a peace treaty with us as a result.
As a case in point, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu naively declared that a future Palestinian Arab state could be modeled on a mini-state such as Andorra or Puerto Rico and that would provide an appropriate national model that the Palestinian Arab national movement would be prepared to accept.
When it comes to the concept of this ” Palestinian toy state”, opinions in Israel do not really vary, from right to left. No one even in the Israeli left is prepared to accept an independent Palestinian Arab state in the middle of the country, with artillery power and/or control over water resources. “Between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea there is simply no room for another nation-state”, Rabin would declare in the days before the Oslo process, and his position was and is accepted by a wide consensus in Israeli society, although not by Palestinian Arabs themselves.
With all due respect, the Palestinians did not conduct an Intifada in order to get a kind of semi-state, comprised of two detached pseudo-autonomous districts in the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinians were not arrested in the thousands and killed in the hundreds in order to earn the right to empty out municipal garbage by themselves.
After all, their leaders led the Intifada under the slogan of “With blood and fire we will redeem Palestine”. The Intifada was a national rebellion, while the Palestine National Liberation movement never reneged on full liberation of all of Palestine as its goal, and it has never hinted that it would settle for anything than less than a state where the issue of Palestinian Arab sovereignty is recognized with Jerusalem as an integral part of its state.
The Palestinian Arabs most certainly became used to our paternalistic attitude towards them, throughout their and our mutual history. Israeli leaders have always believed that they “read” the Palestinians better than they read themselves. Israel’s former prime minister Golda Meir used to go out of her way to declare that the Palestinian people simply does not exist. Even worse, a steady stream of leaders over the past few years have tried to minimize the expectations of Palestinian leaders and present them as an infantile people who are ready to pioneer an infantile state.
These days, Israelis seem to compete with one another to declare that a Palestinian state is already an “established fact”. On almost every newsreel, more and more Israelis join the chorus, and a recent pubic opinion poll showed that 52% of the Israeli population sample surveyed now believe that the Palestinian state is now a reality.
Palestinian Arab surveys might come out differently. But who here cares what Palestinians are thinking? Does anyone care how Palestinian Arabs interpret the meaning of a “Palestinian state”?
The Palestinian Arab people continued to exist even when we in Israel said they did not. and they continued their war of independence even though we declared ourselves to be the victors of that conflict.
Israel can continue to give paternalistic admiration to the political achievements of the Intifada that Palestinian leaders brought for their people. However, Israelis who embroider a Palestinian Arab state with their blue and white thread may find that Palestinian Arabs may not be too pleased with what Israelis have in mind for them.
Emunah Elon, 42, is an Israeli news columnist, mother of six, and, until recently, the advisor on women’s affairs to the Prime Minister of Israel.