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A Palestinian Ben-Gurion

It appears that since the chances for a new Israeli Ben-Gurion’s birth are nil, someone in Israel has begun to wish for a Palestinian one.

Salman Masalha ||
A Palestinian Ben-Gurion


It seems incredible - a veritable messianic vision is materializing before our eyes. In a ceremony at Sde Boker marking 40 years since David Ben-Gurion’s death, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week spoke about the talks with the Palestinians and made a personal wish. “I wish a Palestinian Ben-Gurion would emerge,” he said.

It appears that since the chances for a new Israeli Ben-Gurion’s birth are nil, someone in Israel has begun to wish for a Palestinian one. But when such wishes are voiced by followers of the political faction opposing Ben-Gurion, they sound suspicious, to say the least.

But let’s put the creeping suspicion aside for a moment. Because if I were a Palestinian leader with vision and imagination, in contrast to the existing good-for-nothings, I’d jump at the opportunity and rush to fulfill Netanyahu’s wish. The task is not difficult at all. You can take Ben-Gurion’s words themselves, replace “Jews” with “Palestinians,” and there you have it – a wish come true.

Here are some of the things the Palestinian Ben-Gurion should say to his people: This land belongs to two owners - to the Jews living in it and to the Palestinians of the world. The Zionists’ role in consolidating the Palestinians as a nation should be underscored, because the Jews created that necessary state of mind within us, the spirit that makes people ignore the differences among themselves for the sake of the common interest. They made us build the PLO, which is a wonderful driving force for education, discipline and synthesis. The Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan and the Palestinians from Hebron, Gaza, Ramallah, Nablus and Jenin, all these young people, some of them perhaps almost wild in their ways, are coming to join the defense forces. They’re studying our history, and how the state was formed, and for what it actually exists, and they emerge Palestinians.

And if any fear should steal into the hearts of the mothers of the youngsters in the Palestinian defense forces – let every Arab mother know that she has placed the fate of her sons in the hands of commanders who are worthy of such responsibility.

There will certainly be people who object to the Palestinian Ben-Gurion’s moves, arguing that he is conceding parts of the motherland to foreigners. But in such fateful matters the Palestinians need a decisive leader, who sees the people’s good as the uppermost goal.

We must stand up firmly to those Palestinian Revisionists who will surely demonstrate against the policy. The Palestinian Ben-Gurion must stick to his vision, and not heed the tweets of the opponents here and there among the people. For the question isn’t what the people wants or doesn’t want, the Palestinian Ben-Gurion knows with complete confidence what is best for the people.

The Palestinian Ben-Gurion, may he emerge soon, in our lifetime, can and must stress to his people that a partial Palestinian state isn’t an end, but a beginning. Establishing a state, even a partial one, will serve as a powerful leverage in our historic efforts to redeem the entire country. We’ll bring into the state all the Palestinians who can be put in it. We’ll organize an excellent, state-of-the-art defense force, and then I’m sure we’ll be able to settle in all the remaining parts of the country, whether by agreement and understanding with our Jewish neighbors, or by another way.

Well, in view of these statements, wouldn’t fulfilling Netanyahu’s wish be the best thing to do? But don’t worry. There’s no danger a Palestinian Ben-Gurion will appear. Mahmoud Abbas is far from being such a leader. He has no intention of settling down in a hut in the Jordan Valley to write his memoirs, or to make the Palestinian wilderness bloom.

We can continue to amuse ourselves, and even add a Palestinian wish. The Palestinian Ben-Gurion can say at the ceremony on the anniversary of Arafat’s death: I wish an Israeli Arafat would emerge. But on second thought, it’s unlikely that anyone in Israel would want to fulfill that wish. After all, he might end up with an overdose of polonium provided by some Hebronite hummus joint.
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Published: Opinions-Haaretz, Nov. 21, 2013

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