The battle over the Palestinian Arab territory in the Gaza Strip is a battle between extremists and more radical extremists. Last week, the extremists, led by Holocaust denier and Fatah strongman Mahmoud Abbas, were ousted in a bloody coup by the radical extremists, Islamist terrorist group Hamas.
Yet, instead of allowing Fatah and Hamas to slug it out, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice informed newly appointed Abbas frontman Prime Minister Salam Fayyad that America would resume aid to the Palestinian Authority. "I told the prime minister that we want to work with his government and support his efforts to enforce the rule of law and to ensure a better life for the Palestinian people," Rice told the media.
Ah, the fabled Palestinian people. The Palestinian people, who simply want "a better life." The Palestinian people, who, President George W. Bush has repeatedly informed us, "long for a society in which they can raise their children in peace and hope."
The Palestinian people, who support, fund and execute suicide bombings. The Palestinian people, who dress their toddlers in bomb belts and then take family snapshots. The Palestinian people, who cheered on September 11 as the World Trade Center towers fell. The Palestinian people, who followed terrorist extraordinaire Yasser Arafat, supported Saddam Hussein, shredded the blooming rose that was once Christian Lebanon, and almost toppled the Western-friendly Jordanian monarchy. The Palestinian people, who destroy relics on the Temple Mount, openly call for the destruction of the state of Israel, ally with Syria and Iran, and elect Hamas. The Palestinian people, who teach their children that the Holocaust is a fairy tale, and that Jews routinely poison Palestinian candy. The Palestinian people, who stage injuries in order to solicit Western media sympathy, and then roar madly as they hold up their hands, red with the blood of murdered Israeli soldiers.
The idea of an entire population corrupted by bloodthirsty anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism violates modern ideas of politics. According to the Bush administration, the problem with the Palestinian Arabs isn't the Palestinian Arabs -- it's their leadership. During Yasser Arafat's tenure, the problem was Yasser Arafat, not the hundreds of thousands who followed him. Now the problem is Hamas, not the hundreds of thousands who supported and elected them.
The problem runs deeper than a few figureheads. The Palestinian Arab population is rotten to the core. There are many to be blamed: Yasser Arafat, who lined his pockets with cash and subsidized murder while playing the victim of oppression. An Arab world that refused to absorb the Palestinian population, preferring to use it as a political pawn against Israel. The United Nations, which suckled the Palestinian Arab population into dependency at the international teat. Israel, for emboldening the Palestinian Arabs by conceding to them.
But in the end, the blame must lie with the Palestinian Arabs themselves. They have accepted their role with relish. They are as responsible for their government's longstanding evil as the Germans were for the Nazis'.
It is far more convenient, however, for the Bush administration and the international community to treat the Palestinian Arabs' thoroughgoing radicalism as a top-down problem. Throw a bit of money at the Holocaust denier, pressure Israel into concessions and hope that the Palestinian Arabs will abandon their attachment to Islamofascism, the logic runs.
Such policy demonstrates an adolescent understanding of Palestinian Arab motivation. Palestinian Arabs will not be bribed: The West has bribed them for decades, and the Palestinian Arabs have demonstrated their preference for suicide bombing over working toilets. Palestinian Arabs will not be moderated: Israel has ceded land continuously since 1993, and the Palestinian Arabs have demonstrated their preference for murder over peace. Palestinian Arabs must be fought on their own terms: as a people dedicated to an evil cause.
So far, Israel and America have willfully blinded themselves to the harsh reality of popular evil. They have refused to come to terms with the harsh fact that collective choices require collective treatment.
Treating collective problems as problems of individuals is a vacuous panacea. Waiting for Arafat to die of old age did not moderate the Palestinian Arabs; supporting one radical over another will not moderate them, either. The Palestinian Arab population breeds terrorism, anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism. If Israel and America refuse to recognize that simple truth, they will continue to pay the price in blood and treasure.