To be sure, Mustafa Bargouthi deserves plaudits for recommending “peaceful protest” as a Palestinian tactic since it would constitute a decided improvement over the violence that has pervaded the Palestinian movement to date. But hunger strikes are a cruel thing to recommend to anyone, and in the case of Gaza it would be particularly inhumane. Back in the halcyon days of 2010, when Gaza’s shops were “bursting with goods” and when Turkey sought to run Israel’s Gaza blockade with a humanitarian supply of hand-held pipes (apparently, the only item that was lacking) replete with an instructional video on how to pummel Jews in the head with them, Gazan grocery stores were reportedly “stocked wall-to-wall.” Could the Bargouthis themselves comply with a hunger strike amidst such temptation to eat? I think not.
Happily, there is an easier path. Indeed, had Mustafa and Marwan invited me to dine with them on Adnan Solidarity Night, I would gladly have indulged them with my own modest proposal for setting “Palestine free.” It consists of having the Palestinians adopt a unique one-step program known to the French as “saying ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’” the next time statehood is offered to them. True, the burden of accepting this course would be great. The Palestinians would have to forsake their much-coveted streak of having “never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity” (a 75-year record, dating to the days of Britain’s famous 1937 Peel Commission). And they would likely have to sacrifice another venerable Palestinian tradition by actually adhering to the terms of the peace treaty they would have to sign. But if they could endure such “selfless” and “nonviolent” acts (and if Mustafa Bargouthi would mention to PA President Mahmoud Abbas that their Parliament hasn’t held a free election for six years), “Palestine” might finally get its long-awaited taste of freedom.
The next opportunity may not be as far off as most academics and media experts think. Despite rumors that he is literally one of those “awful” Likudists we’ve been hearing such horrid things about, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu endorsed a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian impasse as far back as 2009. Even more promising, in a speech before a joint session of the U.S. Congress just last year, he declared that if Mahmoud Abbas would abandon his newly forged ties to Hamas (a group whose charter calls for Israel’s eradication) and make peace, “Israel will not be the last country to welcome a Palestinian state as a new member of the United Nations. It will be the first to do so.”
The cost of embracing the “one-step to freedom program” will surely strike many Palestinians as daunting. But the rewards would be immense – and Palestinians would not have to starve themselves to bring it about. It is a course worth considering.
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