Even more delusional, however, is Friedman’s idea of a Palestinian state becoming a Middle East “Singapore,” where “Arab Muslims and Christians, men and women, can thrive in a secular, but religiously respectful, free-market, democratic context, next to a Jewish state.” Where does Friedman find in any Muslim Middle East country the cultural or religious foundations for such a state? Where in the region is there even a “secular” state? The recent revolts have eliminated the barely secular state like Egypt. Turkey has been secularizing for eight decades, and it’s becoming more Islamist, not less. Or where are Christians “respectfully” treated? On the contrary, they are fast disappearing from the regions of Christianity’s birth, those few remaining subject to increasing violence and persecution. More broadly, where in Islam can Friedman find the foundational principles of liberal democracy, such as separation of church and state, recognition of universal human rights, secular law, or free speech? And if a “partly free” regime, as Freedom House calls it, like Singapore is Friedman’s model, where can he find in Islam the intellectual freedom and dynamism, scientific rationalism, respect for contracts and laws apart from tribe or sect, and all the other constituents of a free-market economy? Surely if an Islamic state could achieve these boons that Friedman believes a Palestinian state would provide, the region wouldn’t be the intellectually stagnant and intolerant, repressive backwater that it is.
A Palestinian state has always been the Arab pretext for attacking Israel, one that plays to Western goods like nationalist self-determination that are not native to Islam, or exploits Western self-loathing based on the presumed historical sins of imperialism and colonialism. The hatred of Jews, however, can be found throughout Islamic theology and history, justified as the proper response to those who rejected Allah and his prophet. And it can be found everywhere in the Muslim Middle East, including the West Bank, where anti-Semitic eliminationist rhetoric is commonplace in government media and school curricula. To believe that Palestinian rejection of Israel is a consequence of “settlements” or “refugees” or the lack of a state instead of reflecting this long, theologically sanctioned, anti-Jewish tradition requires a leap of faith that would, like Charlie Brown’s, be funny if it wasn’t so deadly.
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