Originally published in Maariv
by Ben Dror Yemini
There have been numerous reports in the past number of months about the flourishing economy under the leadership of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Various data demonstrate a significant rise in the GDP and the quality of life. Ramallah, the reports inform us, has Tel Aviv-style pubs. Cool. And Jenin, the city that achieved infamy because of the massacre that never occurred, has put on a new face with a new commercial center. Just like the Azrieli mall. And Zakariya Zubeidi, the guy who once used to be a wanted man, has changed his vocation.
But we’ve seen all this before.
In the 1990s a veritable fortune flowed into the Palestinians’ coffers. Every Palestinian received USD 1,330, as opposed to the Marshall Plan for the rehabilitation of Europe after World War II, which granted every European USD 272. In other words, four times as much. Yes, that much. That aid also contributed to an average growth rate of six percent between the years 1994-1999. Even Israel failed to achieve a growth rate of that sort in those years. What followed afterwards is well known. A particularly violent Intifada, which caused thousands of casualties and an economic breakdown. The Palestinians are still 30% away from the GDP per capita that they had a decade ago.
We all know the theory. “It’s the economy, stupid.” That might be a theory that applies to the West. But here in the East the story is a little different. Here the rules are different. In the competition between economic rationalism and religious incitement-the incitement wins. That didn’t begin this week. Nor did it begin nine years ago. That’s our history.
The Economy is of No Interest to Them
Jewish settlement brought in its wake economic prosperity. Cooperation would have led to shared prosperity. That isn’t what happened. Prosperity was an option. Incitement prevailed. Hajj Amin al-Husseini, Hitler’s friend and protégé, turned the Zionist plot to seize control over the Temple Mount into the focal point of his incitement. This very same Husseini also joined forces with the Muslim Brotherhood while they were building their influence and strength in Egypt.
The Muslim Brotherhood is the mother movement of both Hamas and the northern chapter of the Islamic Movement in Israel, headed by Sheikh Raed Salah. So that it is no coincidence that everyone, Husseini, Haniya and Salah, are all focused on el-Aksa Mosque.
They take no interest in the economy. They’re interested in incitement. They know that el-Aksa Mosque was once a focal point of rioting, just as it is a focal point of friction at present. That is where the masses throng to. Setting the fire is relatively easy. And when you pump the masses time and time again, as Sheikh Salah does, that the Zionists are seizing control of el-Aksa Mosque, the message gets through.
Israel Will be the First to Fall, Then Paris, Rome and London
Salah, say security officials, treads the line. He does not engage in hostile terrorist activity. He isn’t the one who established the terror cells. But he is the one who lays the emotional groundwork. He incites. He encourages. He inflames the passions. Ideologically, he is a Hamas man in every sense and form. He too advocates the establishment of an Islamic caliphate that will gradually seize control of the entire world. He wrote a series of articles about the revolution he yearns for. Israel, in its capacity as a Crusader castle, will be the first to fall. Then Paris, Rome and London will follow in its wake.
The prevailing discourse of rights has turned Salah into a person who enjoys immunity. In some Arab states he is a persona non grata. His requests to enter have been denied. After all, they don’t need another provocateur. But here he operates freely. Abets and incites. Lays the groundwork for subversive activity. Salah is a living reminder of the fact that democracy is not only the rule of rights, which are geared to protect minorities. Democracy is supposed to defend sometimes, only sometimes, the majority as well. Salah is protected. The majority has been left vulnerable. Democracy, and not only Israeli democracy, needs to do some soul-searching. Unless, that is, Salah and his ilk succeed in doing away with it before it manages to defend itself.
So that anyone who thinks that economic prosperity will ensure calm is deluding himself. All that is needed in order to bring about a renewed outburst is bitterness, incitement-which there is no lack of-as well as “continued construction” in the heart of Arab neighborhoods, or the seizure of more land, which is never evacuated, deep in the Arab population centers. That lethal combination of incitement, bitterness, provocateurs-mainly from the Palestinian side-exist at present as well.
We oughtn’t to be surprised if it explodes in our face.