On college campuses and beyond, support for the Palestinians has been portrayed as a human rights campaign. While the anti-Semitic BDS movement is, according to its founders and leaders, a crusade to make Israel disappear, it has attracted many naïve supporters who believe ostracizing Israel will somehow help the Palestinians achieve independence. BDS has been an unmitigated failure, but it has shielded the Palestinian Authority and Hamas from criticism for their abuses of human rights.
Sadly, the people who loudly proclaim their concern for the Palestinians are silent when it comes to the way Palestinians treat each other. The “occupation” imposes limitations on the freedom of Palestinians, but Israelis have no responsibility for the denial of civil rights by the men (and they are all men) who rule over roughly 98 percent of the Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza.
Let’s start with freedom of speech and assembly. No one can demonstrate or speak out against the leaders of Hamas or the Palestinian Authority. This may be the most serious – and ignored — obstacle to peace. For decades, the irredentism of Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas has led the Palestinian people to ruin. Multiple opportunities for statehood have been squandered because of their unwillingness to compromise and the people have no recourse. The PA is a dictatorship, which does not tolerate dissent. Just last week, the Palestinian police dispersed demonstrations in Ramallah and Bethlehem against the prosecution of five wanted criminals. The one election held in the territories was concerned more with the corruption of Fatah than independence and, to ensure his continued autocratic rule, Abbas has refused to hold another election for more than a decade. Perhaps, if the people felt strongly enough about peace they would revolt against their leaders rather than the Israelis, but they have been content up until now to blame the Jews for their plight.
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