Monday, June 25, 2007

Palestine Muslims Will Disappear

Iran's puppies of war in Gaza and their counterparts in Lebanon are a mixed blessing for their sponsors in Tehran. In Western capitals, the case for military action of some kind against Iran has become far more compelling. I continue to believe, as I wrote on May 30, that Iran will fight rather than compromise with the West. Tehran may have Hamas and Hezbollah on a leash, but it is the master that is dragged forward now, rather than the dog dragged back. But these are things that the casual newspaper reader knows by now.

Speaking of Gaza, it is a general rule that countries that have no business being there eventually find ways to disappear. The Andean countries of South America are a case in point; sundry warlords carved them out of the Spanish viceroyalties after the break with Spain. A correspondent on this writer's discussion board observes that 40% of legal immigrants to Spain now come from Colombia, Bolivia and Ecuador, with the last-named contributing 2 million people, or a third of its working-age population. The population of the Andean countries is clever enough to understand that there is little reason for them to be there, and therefore leaves at the first opportunity.

That is an exercise in what postmodern scholars deride as "essentialism", by which they mean the view that a people or country displays "essential" characteristics that it can change no more than a leopard can change its spots. Sigmund Freud liked to say that long-suppressed problems in history eventually force themselves to the surface, referring in this case to the fault line between Roman and tribal Germany along which the Catholic-Protestant divide occurred during the Reformation.

"Essentialism" also informs racial and national stereotypes, which is why postmodernists reject it as a colonialist ideology. National humor by its nature is essentialist. If Scotsmen weren't stingy and East Frisians weren't stupid, we wouldn't have jokes about them. One should be cautious in ascribing essences, to be sure, but in some cases nothing else makes sense.

For the past five years I have analyzed Palestinian affairs according to an "essentialist" standpoint, which amounts to the simple observation that the Palestinians, rather like the Andean countries, have no reason to be there, and so eventually will not be. Like the Bolivians, many Palestinians do emigrate, but the rest of the world will not have them (Kuwait expelled 400,000 of them during the first Gulf War in 1991).

The means by which the Palestinians have chosen to disappear are unappetizing, but no less effective. The essence of what we euphemistically call the "Palestinian people" is self-destructive, because it is not a people at all, but the artificial construct of Arab politics and Western relief agencies. After last week's debacle, just this once, I am going to indulge myself in an extended "I told you so".

The rest of the article, "I told you so, essentially"

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