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Why the Palestinian Question Won't Disappear

Hamas rally (Photo: flickr/theisraelproject)

Because of rampant worldwide terrorism, attitudes have slowly become more empathetic to the fight Israel faces each day. And with political change having come to the U.S., there is hope for greater American support for Israel, as well. Despite these changes, JNS' Ben Cohen writes that the Palestinians' attacks on Israel have not changed:

It's been clear for a long time that there is little difference between the character of terrorist attacks in Israel and those in the West more broadly. Trucks ram into crowds—as they did in Nice, Berlin and Jerusalem. Terrorists blow up or shoot up nightclubs—as they did in Orlando, Tel Aviv and Bali. Knife-wielding Islamists dash into venues from shopping malls to police stations stabbing anyone in reach—as they did in Minnesota, Brussels and, yes, Tel Aviv.

Compared to 15 years ago, there is a much greater empathy with Israel's existential position these days. European leaders like French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May have shown far greater readiness than even our own President Barack Obama to recognize that anti-Zionism is a form of anti-Semitism, that the campaign to boycott Israel is founded upon hatred and that Israel lives in a neighborhood where every day, someone influential somewhere calls for its annihilation...

Yet while the change of administration in Washington may strengthen Israel's diplomatic position for the immediate period, and while the Palestinians will have to get to the back of the line in terms of international priorities, the Palestinian question itself will not disappear. In many ways, it will find its status enhanced.

To begin with, there's the public domain. And this brings us to something that the Europeans have never understood: The historic Palestinian strategy has never been about achieving statehood, but about preventing a negotiated solution in order to perpetuate the image of the Palestinians as the people to whom history has dealt the cruelest blow. It's why the Palestinians make deliberately unrealistic demands, like the “right of return”—a goal the Palestine Liberation Organization originally pledged to achieve through violence—and suing the United Kingdom for the 1917 Balfour Declaration.

In terms of building up public support around the world, it’s a strategy that has worked. Hence, we can assume that if President-elect Donald Trump does a 180-degree turn on President Obama's approach to the Israelis, the narrative of the Palestinians—ignored by America, facing 50 years of "occupation" under Israel—will become emblematic of public resistance to the foreign policies of the Trump administration...

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