When Fatah Day is celebrated on Jan. 1, it will be marked with a procession of several hundred mercenaries at the Muqata in Ramallah. However, by the time the procession reaches the end of the street, it will learn that the next generation is no longer there. Nor is the Arab world.
In the past, the Palestinian issue was of greater concern to certain Arab sectors than their own country’s domestic affairs. This is the reason the Palestinian umbrella organization known as the Palestine Liberation Organization was the recipient of a great deal of money from individual donors, international organizations and both Arab and non-Arab states. This financial support was accompanied by such great moral support that in some Arab states, cries of “We are all Palestine” were commonplace.
No more. The lack of motivation among Palestinian youths to launch a third intifada is just one symptom of this phenomenon. Saudi, Moroccan, Emirati and even Palestinian yuppies have had enough of the empty “Palestine First” slogan. In recent years, it has become evident that they have chosen to adhere to a new outlook, to the regret of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the PLO, Fatah and Hamas. This outlook is one of contempt for the Palestinian leadership, which is perceived as corrupt, anemic, and as one whose time is up.
What brought about this change? The atrocities perpetrated by Arab rulers in Arab states led these people to rethink their perceptions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For decades, they were educated to hate “child-killing” Israel. From watching what transpired in Iraq and Syria, they realized this was incitement, and that there was no truth behind the propaganda. They discovered Israel was entirely different from their misconceptions.
The “Arab Spring” was also exposed as a lie. The younger generation had great hopes that the revolutions would remove tyrants from power, and that corrupt and immoral regimes would collapse. Yet they watched with obvious discomfort and disappointment as they learned that what is past is prologue. They were also disappointed by the Palestinians, who encouraged revolutions in the Arab Gulf, Lebanon and North Africa, not to rectify wrongs but purely for anarchy’s sake. Those harmed by the Palestinians began to look differently at the Zionist state. To some, Israel became an ally.
One issue that has been raised in the past yet continues to concern the world’s Arabs is the Palestinian refugee camps. After over 70 years of suffering, insult and misery, many in the Arab world, whether they be street merchants or the CEOs of high-tech firms, are asking: Will we ever see the end of these camps?
The PLO heads, who declared the need for the camps’ “appearance” as representations of the Palestinian tragedy forgot that these are not merely display windows but miles of poverty, slime and sewage. They identified with the residents of these camps only by throwing them a few empty words. They acquired luxurious homes for themselves, sent their children to prestigious schools and kept funds intended for the camps’ rehabilitation for themselves. And then they shamelessly told the camps’ residents to hold on just a little longer, because “liberation is near.”
IDF Col. (res.) Moshe Elad is a lecturer at Western Galilee College in the Political Sciences and History of the Middle East departments.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.