This is the headline of a FoxNews op-ed by Faheem Younus, President of the Baltimore branch of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA and a senior fellow at the University of Baltimore’s Hoffberger Center for Professional Ethics. It’s a fair question.
Younus asks us to
think of the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict in terms of the movie “Shawshank Redemption,” which shows the quest for freedom of an innocent banker serving two life sentences under hopeless circumstances. The cast goes like this: the criminals are Hamas, the warden is Netanyahu, Andy—the banker convicted of murder—is your average Palestinian, and Shawshank is Gaza.
His strawman includes his claim that ordinary Palestinians—Gazans, actually—are prisoners of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Then Younus expands his claim:
But lately, the Palestinian’s moral right to exist has become a political wrong to list.
Recently, it has become evident that millions of innocent Palestinians will serve life sentences in this Shawshank, that there is no two-state solution, that their yearning for freedom is being swallowed by the biblical dream of a Greater Israel, stretching all the way from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean.
Of course, Israel has made no such claim. Israel favors a two-state solution (which, of necessity, includes the Palestinians’ “moral right to exist”), having learned from the West’s colonial days, followed by general colonial independence and trade, that the path to prosperity, for Israelis and for Palestinians, including Gazans, is through states freely trading with each other.
While purporting to decry Hamas’ behavior, though, what Younus does not discuss is that when Hamas and Fatah merged under the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas’ leadership, the PA became a terrorist state. Younus denies this (without substantiation), and the PA’s initial rhetoric also denied it. The ensuing empirical facts, though, prove the terrorist nature of the unity government, this new PA. The PA launched their latest terror war just weeks after the unity government’s formation; it has pursued its terrorism with rocket attacks against Israel’s nuclear facility; it has pursued its terrorism with endless rocket firings into Israel with the sole purpose of killing as many civilians and children it can; it has pursued its terrorism by storing its rockets in hospitals, UN facilities (it’s impossible to believe the UN had no complicity in this), and private homes; it has pursued its terrorism through firing from these same homes and hospitals; it has pursued its terrorism by using Gazan civilians and children as personal shields in engagements with the IDF; the list goes on and on and on.
The ensuing empirical facts also include these two: the Fatah part of the PA has been utterly silent on this terrorism. Fatah’s silence is a deafening roar of approval of the PA’s terrorism. Also, Abbas has openly stated he agrees with the attacks.
Gazans—ordinary Palestinians—are not at all prisoners of Netanyahu or of Israel generally. They’re hostages of the terrorist PA, and badly abused by it.
As to that rejection of a two-state solution and a favoring of Younus’ mythical Greater Israel, this is what Netanyahu has said:
“If we were to pull out of Judea and Samaria, like they tell us to…there’d be a possibility of thousands of tunnels” being dug by terrorists to attack Israel, [Netanyahu] said. There were 1,200 tunnels dug in the 14-kilometer border strip between Egypt and Gaza alone…. “At present we have a problem with the territory called Gaza,” the Prime Minister said. But the West Bank is 20 times the size of Gaza. Israel, he said flatly, was not prepared “to create another 20 Gazas” in the West Bank.
The Palestinians do, indeed, have their own right to freedom. And to the prosperity that goes with freedom. The path to that, though, demands that the PA release these innocents from their bondage. The path to that demands an end of terrorist wars against Israel. The path to that demands a verifiable—and verified—removal of the PA from its avowed goal of the utter destruction of Israel.