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The Real Nakba

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

On May 15, Palestinian Arabs and their supporters commemorate what they call the “Nakba,” the catastrophe.  This year, sadly, it will even be commemorated in the halls of the US Congress. Indeed, Palestinian Arabs have suffered many catastrophes, although what they are commemorating and what the reality is are miles apart.  What are the real catastrophes we need to recognize?


Despite having declared statehood, and dozens of countries recognizing if not even having diplomatic relations with the “State of Palestine,” rather than celebrating their independence or doing anything to build the infrastructure of their society, their exclusive narrative is on everything that’s been done to harm them.   The exclusive focus is not just on blaming Israel for their problems, but portraying Israel as the exclusive source of their problems, that Israel’s very existence is their catastrophe.

The real catastrophes are much deeper, wider, and nuanced. They should contemplate these while looking in a mirror.

Land for Peace

While the formula is flawed, the reality is that since the Oslo Accords of the 1990s, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been offered essentially full statehood on over 90 percent of the land that they claim is “occupied,” with territorial swaps for the percent of land that would remain under Israeli control.   The fact is that not only have they never said “yes,” they have used these as excuses to incite violence.

Pay for Slay

Regarding violence, what does it say about a people whose society provides lifetime financial incentives for terrorists?  The worse the crime and the more Israelis harmed and killed, the greater the pension the terrorists and their relatives receive. It would be more inspiring, not to mention less harmful and evil, to incentivize research, entrepreneurship, and scholarship.  Not in the Palestinian Authority. Want a lifetime stipend? Maim and murder Israelis.



A recent meeting of “donor countries” to the PA noted that despite their countries’ ongoing financial support, their economy is not stable.  Deep changes are needed. A recent survey highlighted this, showing a decline in unemployment in the PA, but with a twist.   Official unemployment decreased in 2022 to 24 percent compared to 26 percent in 2021. In Gaza, it decreased from 47 percent to 45 percent. As high as these are, any decrease is a good thing. This was reported by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, which also reported that nearly one third of those employed are working in Israeli cities and communities.  Were it not for Israel where Palestinian Arabs earn higher salaries in better conditions, their unemployment rates would be vastly higher and overall economy that much worse. The PA is failing its own people by not investing in the infrastructure needed to provide meaningful work for their own population.

No Infrastructure for a State

Not only has the PA not invested in their economy to provide real jobs, and hope, for Palestinian Arabs, and one can earn a comparatively decent living by trying to harm and murder Israelis, they have built virtually no infrastructure for a state. In three decades since Oslo, they’ve invested in destroying Israel, but not in building up their own society, much less the actual things that any country really needs for independence.  The PA doesn’t even control all the territory it claims as their state, not because of Israel, but because of a violent and bloody insurrection by Hamas in Gaza where the Palestinian Authority has no authority. Is not having a currency, social services, good governance, employment, or violence within their own society Israel’s fault?  Hardly. 


No Democracy

PA President Mahmoud Abbas is currently serving in his 18th year of a four-year term.  There have been no elections since Abbas became president.  When they have been held, it’s been called a joke because nobody expects Palestinian Arabs to have a say in their future.  And the world, which continues to fund the PA, doesn’t seem to care about Palestinian democracy.


Maybe one reason their leaders won’t allow elections is how profitable it is to be one.  Their kleptocracy and corruption are legendary.  Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, and others have all become rich, while their people languish in high double-digit unemployment. Where did they get their money from?  As industrialists in an economy with no industry?  No, they have pilfered it from the coffers of the PA, much of which is funded by other countries.  

Terror, Inc.

There’s little to no industrial infrastructure in the PA, but there’s a great big terrorist infrastructure. I don’t know how one applies for a job to be a terrorist, but I do know that an obscene amount of funds go into weapons, training, salaries, terror tunnels, human trafficking, and more.  If only the PA would shut down Terror, Inc. and put the money that goes into killing people to building a society, maybe their people would have hope, jobs, and more.  

Hijacking Their Own People

Palestinian Arab terrorists are known for hiding behind civilians, building their terrorist infrastructure in and around schools, hospitals, mosques, and residential areas because they know Israel won’t fire to take out terrorists where there’s high risk of civilian casualties.  Not only is the very nature of terrorism directed at Israeli civilians illegal, immoral, and a war crime, it puts their own people in danger as pawns to their industry of terror


No Identity Without Blaming Israel

Over the decades, what’s become clear is that in order to show greater nationalism for the Palestinian cause, one must compete to be the most anti-Israel.   The PA, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorists raise the ante on being anti-Israel in order to make a case for their own relevance, and have no identity other than in the context of blaming and trying to destroy Israel.  

Not Taking Responsibility 

Since they have no currency other than terror, and no vision for building up their own society, rather than ever taking responsibility for their decades of failures, for taking advantage of their own people, investing in killing others rather than prosperity for themselves, the PA and its networks of terrorist leaders simply pass the buck, blame Israel, and call it a catastrophe.   People see through the lies, but that doesn’t stop them because there’s no accountability.  To be a PA terrorist means getting away with murder. Often literally.

Former Israeli statesman, Abba Eban once famously quipped that the Arabs never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Sadly, that remains true today.   As long as they blame Israel for all their problems, and seek to delegitimize and even destroy Israel, but take no responsibility for all the catastrophes they have brought on themselves, there will not only be no peace, but their people will continue to suffer, at their own hands. They have no vision for building up their own society.  If Israel were to go away or not be a source of employment, medical care, commerce, and more, the “State of Palestine” would become another failed state, rooted in terror, taking advantage of their own people.   This is the real catastrophe.


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