The Corner

I’d Be Depressed Too

According to an AP report in yesterday’s Jerusalem Post online:

The Palestinian people have plunged into a deep depression with unemployment and poverty at record levels, and peace with Israel is the only answer, a longtime Palestinian lawmaker said.

Palestinians are experiencing “one of the most difficult phases in our history,” said Hanan Ashrawi, an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and an active voice in the Mideast peace process.

“Now we see not just a political and economic battle but a battle over the soul of Palestine,” she told an audience of about 200 gathered at Emory University. “We find ourselves in the grip of … the deconstruction of Palestine.”

Nearly 75 percent of Palestinians living in Gaza are dependent on welfare and the territory’s unemployment rate has skyrocketed to 50 percent, she said. Conditions have worsened in Gaza since Hamas seized control in June.

And what did the U.S. educated Ms. Ashrawi, who might reasonably be called a moderate, advocate in the part of the speech where you have to pretend that there is a solution to this condition? More talks with Israel. Really. Why? Perhaps because she knows that the only people on earth who have any residual belief in the ability of the Palestinians to build a modern nation-state can be found in the U.S. State Department and the Israeli Labor party. Or, perhaps she knows that if she told the truth about why things are the way they are, she wouldn’t be invited back to conferences at Jimmy Carter’s Mid East center at Emory, and she might easily be assassinated at home.

As De Gaulle said, decades ago about another failure to thrive case, “Brazil is the country of the future, and always will be…”  For a while you could say that about the Palestinian state. For a shorter, more problematic while, the Palestinian state looked pretty inevitable — despite leadership that kept passing up each real opportunity to begin the hard work.  But now that sense of inevitability has faded, and “Palestine” has become never-never land.  . Ashrawi is depressed for good reason: with each passing day of Hamas-Fatah infighting, failure to build infrastructure or institute any kind of rule of law, the magnitude of self destructiveness in the pyches of would be Palestinian leaders becomes more obvious, and the possibility of a real state shrinks.

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