That the Palestinian people are in a dire situation is no understatement. Estimates for unemployment rates have reached 50 percent, and poverty levels have been set at 55 percent in the West Bank and as high as 70 percent in Gaza. The struggle to maintain a decent standard of living is often an unreachable goal in this part of the world.
Increasingly, Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank have found mental refuge by ignoring long-term strategies to improve their economic status for the ever-enticing and short-sighted mentality of blame, victimization, political spin and nauseating violence. We have heard the jingoistic mantra “Free Palestine,” yet what we fail to emphasize is that the Palestinians must free themselves from the grip of corruption and radicalism in order to achieve prosperity. Terror and tyranny from within are not symptoms of destitution, but rather its causes.Ê
Poverty and despair exist a hundredfold elsewhere in our world. Yet we have seen numerous times in the past that blatant terrorism as an excuse for political clout achieves no more than front-page coverage. For Palestinian terrorists, that seems to stir up enough public debate to justify throwing sanctity of life and moral decency out the window. Make the front page enough times, the reasoning goes, and sympathy will emerge.
The fact remains that gradual economic growth is attained through prudent economic planning, an emphasis on education, and a morality that inspires hard work and innovation as a means toward success. The elimination of an outside presence, or the annexing of new territory has no bearing on these factors except to distract from them. The current mindset in much of the territories is as incongruous as Mexico being jealous of America’s relative economic success and demanding Texas back as a precondition for achieving overall prosperity.
Yasir Arafat is a known terrorist, hoarding money in overseas accounts shared by relatives and close political allies. He has repeatedly taken money donated by various nations, and instead of using it to support his own people, he uses it to support the terror that merely makes a spectacle of the poverty which he himself is creating. The fundamental paradox is that the money and effort that could go to improvements for the Palestinian people is instead going towards terror attacks that pathetically attempt to rally sympathy for the lack of resources — resources that now have just been expended.
“Occupation” is a term that, when examined closely, is merely a euphemism for existence — the existence of a neighboring peoples whose democratic government provides opportunities and prosperity which can only exist in the absence of corrupt leadership. Paving the path towards success begins by diverting energy away from terror and violence, and instead focusing it within, to build schools, establish businesses that remove the reliance on long commutes, and truly believe that a democratic government is the best way to ensure that money is wisely spent. Then, and only then, will Palestinians enjoy an improvement in quality of life and freedom of expression. Israel has nothing to gain by keeping tanks rolling and troops marching in territories inhabited by a people who openly want nothing to do with them. When the need to crack down on terrorist plots and conspiring militants no longer exists, the world will see these soldiers leave just as quickly as they arrived.
Daniel Abrams is a sophomore in Davenport College.