Professor Said criticizes what others would consider an unusual outbreak of reasonable attitude to Israel in the Palestinian leadership, namely that it tried to forget “about its people’s tragic history.” Edward Said applies the term tragedy loosely, since it normally denotes something more substantial than the U.N.-sanctioned relocation of semi-nomadic Palestinian villagers and a primitive urban population a few dozen miles away in exchange for generous welfare programs which greatly exceeded the Palestinians’ previous wealth.
What is the alternative for Palestinians to forgetting the past? Is it a futile fight against a superior Israeli enemy and more suffering for Palestinians? The Palestinians need to think less about quixotic principles and more about adapting to reality of their Israeli neighbor. The public outcry feeds Palestinian discontent with Israel instead of forcing Palestinians to face Israeli reality, adapt to it, and carry on with their lives, whether under Israeli-sponsored autonomy or in some other state. Jews who suffered from Romans two thousands years ago, have no humanists and relief organizations on their side, and adapted or migrated, and moved on. Seventy years ago during the massive Palestinian pogroms around 1936, Jews had no one to appeal to but had to fight or surrender, had to adapt. Those are the Palestinians’ real options versus Israel. Edward Said does not want Palestinians to adapt, rather suggests a fight with Israel. Professor Said would not say so, since the Palestinians are not up to open warfare with Israel, preferring rather to demand peace and justice as they wage undercover war against Israel.
Remembering past persecutions is not bad. Hardly any people has suffered so much or remembers it better than the Jews, but Israelis do not bomb Spain or Germany. The problem emerges when things past determine the future, when history becomes electoral platform. Too many ideological provocateurs like Edward Said incite the Palestinian people to right past wrongs instead of accepting reality of Israeli existence.