Samson Blinded: A Machiavellian Perspective on the Middle East Conflict

Edward Said claims special rights for the Palestinians in Israel

To claim equality is often just a way for Palestinians to ask for special rights from Israel. Edward Said objects to Israeli isolationism, arguing for integration with Palestine, yet later admits that most Arabs want to boycott Israel, the next best option to destroying it. Israel is not isolationist; Arabs ostracize Israel. Economic integration with Israel is meaningless, since Palestine has neither capital nor technology Israel wants. Edward Said wants open borders with Israel for Palestine, letting Palestinians flood Israel, looking for a better life and work, but that would give Palestinians preferential Israeli treatment. Israel has no reason to give Palestinians special treatment—yet Israel actually does. Palestinians with clean records can work at almost any job in Israel, though Arab Lebanon excludes Palestinians from dozens of occupations.

Edward Said criticizes Israeli control of "exits and entrances" to Palestine, while what Israel in fact controls are Israeli border checkpoints. Should Israel concede control of Israeli borders to Palestine or just leave them open? Since Palestine is not a recognized state, there is no formal border. Professor Said wants it both ways: a Palestinian state but borders that work only one way, against Israel. Edward Said notes that tension and killings arise when two nations are "rubbed against each other," just co-existing. The logical solution to that is Israeli-Palestinian separation, not open borders.

Edward Said’s indignation that the Israeli Law of Return applies only to Jews also asks for special treatment. This law gives Diaspora Jews the right to immigrate to Israel, a state created specifically for Jews. Why should that privilege be extended to Arabs? Put it another way: would any Arab state, Palestine included, accept thedescendants of Jews who moved away centuries or dozens of years ago? Clearly not. Whether they should is irrelevant.

Edward Said in fact proposes "supra-equality," namely that not only should Palestinians be treated as Israeli equals but that others should defend Palestinians' rights against Israel. Said is indignant that Egypt claimed nothing for the Palestinians in the Camp David agreement with Israel. That is not true, in the first place, since the Egyptian-Israeli agreement posits Palestinian self-determination, which became another plank in the Palestinian platform. Further, why should Egypt or anyone champion the Palestinians before Israel? Egyptians and Palestinians are not compatriots; they have different cultures and speak different dialects; religious affinity did not inspire Palestinians to fight for Pakistan against India. Why Palestinians expect support from Egypt against Israel? Egypt’s treaty with Israel does not imperil the rights of other Arabs. Edward Said denigrates all things Egyptian, even claims that "U.S.-compliant" President Mubarak is unpopular, while in fact Egyptians are fond of him.

Trying to balance equality and special rights, Edward Said says the Wye River Memorandum commits the Palestinian Authority to Israeli security, not the other way around. Professor Said must believe Israel is responsible for Palestinian security. Israel has no interest in Palestine’s external affairs and has never infringed on Palestinian security unless in reprisal. Palestinians have all the security they need: a huge police apparatus, though no army whose only prey would be Israel. The Palestinian Administration promises only not to host anti-Israeli terrorists—not a mind-boggling concession to Israel.

Edward Said also criticizes Israel for releasing about a hundred Palestinian criminals; but Palestinians should deal with their own thieves. It turns out that not all Palestinians in Israeli jails are political prisoners.