Nicholas Kristof, a renowned journalist and New York Times columnist is on a visit to Israel. In his recent article, “The Two Sides of a barbed-Wire Fence”, Kristof wrote about the electrified poultry farm on one side of the Israeli fence and the Palestinians, who live on the other side of the fence and who are denied access to electricity. Unbelievable but true - chickens are indeed getting more electricity and water on one side of the fence than Palestinians on the other side. Kristof has captured the plight of Palestinians in one simple yet powerful sentence.
Two generations of Palestinians were born and have lived in intolerable conditions. Sixty years of failed leadership, occupation, Arab neighbors providing just lip service, violence, loss of life, and denied hope of a better future – Palestinians have enough reasons to complain. But Palestinians are not chickens. They have realized the futility of such efforts.
Instead of whining and resorting to violence, they are focusing now on building their nation. Instead of waiting for a peace deal with Israel, Salam Fayyad, Palestinian Prime Minster and the President Mahmud Abbas are building schools and hospitals, constructing roads, and developing an independent judiciary and an effective police force. The new generation of Palestinian leaders in West Bank are attracting investment from Europe, bringing economic assistance and leading the way towards establishing an independent Palestinian State.
Youth without opportunities for education and employment are easy victims for militant ideology. The only long term, sustainable solution to extremism is to eliminate the root causes. Access to education, employment, and a safe living environment are essential ingredients for success, and Fayyad and Abbas are creating this environment in West Bank. This alone still won’t solve the Palestinian problem. They need their own state to live like anyone else in the world. Unlike Hamas, Palestinians in West Bank have accepted Israel and understand co-existence. It looks like Palestinian leadership is on track to announce Independence in 2012.
The current Israeli leadership led by Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman, who view the Palestinians as unsophisticated, illiterate and violent, have to grow up and accept the new reality. Netanyahu is not the only one who obtained a US education. Fayyad holds a PhD degree from the University of Texas. In addition, Fayyad worked for the World Bank and International Monetary Fund before becoming the finance minister of Palestinian territory. The new leadership in West Bank reflects the changing realities in the Middle East.
A weak Palestinian state with hopeless people glorifying suicide bombing won’t create a stable and peaceful Middle East but a strong Palestinian state that can govern itself well.
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