Before a Palestinian state

By George Anesi

Many, including members of the Bush Administration, are favoring what has been called a “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This implies that the end goal should be two states, one Israeli and one Palestinian, living side-by-side in peace. I am a strong advocate of this solution. It is important to remember, however, that the present Palestinian government and attitude is unfit for statehood. And it will take some time to rectify that. I doubt that I will, in my lifetime, see the transition to a Palestinian society capable of living peaceably within its own state.

The way things stand now, there are three major problems standing in the way of Palestinian statehood. Those are: terrorism against Israel, a corrupt government, and a horribly flawed education system. To elaborate, as a full believer in Israel’s right to exist, I denounce every terrorist attack against Israeli civilians. I feel for the Palestinians living hard lives in refugee camps in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but nothing justifies deliberately killing innocents.

Furthermore, the current Palestinian government is in disarray. The fact is that the Palestinian Authority squanders humanitarian aid money on weapons; supports, or at least tolerates, terrorist organizations; and leaves its people to suffer. Finally, its education system teaches children to hate Israel, Zionists, Jews, Americans, and the West. Palestinian school textbooks state either that Israel does not exist or instead call it an evil colonial occupier that not only unjustly control the West Bank, but also has no right to any of the land that makes up the current state of Israel. The Palestinian schoolbook entitled Islamic Education for Fourth Grade, Part 2, sums it all up with, “Learn from this lesson: the Jews are the enemies of the prophets and the true believers.” This is not surprising when the PLO’s charter declares that “the establishment of the state of Israel is entirely illegal,” and that “armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine.” Despite U.N. demands, the Palestinian leadership has refused to alter its stance.

Certain steps must be taken before a Palestinian state can be established. First and foremost, a new uncorrupt government must be put into place. This would include the removal of Yasser Arafat, who has repeatedly proven himself useless in the peace process, a complete overhaul of the Palestinian Authority, and a new system to make sure that aid money is used for its intended purposes. This new Palestinian government will not support or tolerate terrorist organizations and will rely on peaceful negotiation. Even before a state is established, this reform will result in an improvement in the lives of Palestinians thanks to humanitarian and economic reforms, which will improve Palestinian society.

The second step is an education reform. Under the leadership of a new government, without a racist charter, schools will be made to teach the truth about Israel; not that Israel is always right, but that it is not always wrong, and to remove hate from its classrooms. The transition will not be easy and there will be heavy objection from those already instilled with these principles of hate that lead to today’s bombings. It will also not be rapid, taking generations to filter out enough hatred to allow for a population of peaceful and moderate Palestinians to form. With the government cracking down heavily on terrorism, and more Palestinians taught in the reformed schools becoming adults, the third step will gradually be accomplished, an end to anti-Israeli terrorism. Not until Israel feels that it is sufficiently safe from terrorist attacks should it, the U.S., or the U.N. allow the formation of a Palestinian state. The formation of such a state before such reforms are completed would be simply legitimatizing a government that supports terrorism.

As a vocal pro-Israel advocate, I petition all other supporters of Israel not to write off the possibility of a Palestinian state as long as the necessary steps are taken to ensure Israel’s security. I also ask all Palestinian supporters to realize that “pro-Israel” does not mean “anti-Palestinian,” and to recognize that changes do need to be made before the state of Palestine is created.