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Released: August 15, 2001
individuals dedicated to freedom have a right to "self-determination" and to
create a state.
Calls for Palestinian State Spell Suicide for
Americans, Europeans, and even Israelis, have been calling for a Palestinian
state run by Yasser Arafat. Far from delivering long-awaited "salvation," such a
state would only bring Palestinians more misery and death.
Consider Arafat's and the PLO's
long history of terrorism and violence. Over a span of 35 years, Arafat and the
PLO have been responsible for the deaths of thousands of Israeli, American,
Lebanese, and Palestinian civilians. Through the PLO, Arafat has orchestrated
the kidnapping and murder of Israeli school children, the hijacking of
airliners, numberless car bombings and death-squad killings. Often Arafat's
violence has been targeted at his Arab "brothers," as is evidenced by the PLO's
role in Jordanian (1960s-'70s) and Lebanese (1970s-'80s) civil insurrections.
Consider also the track record of
the current Palestinian Authority—the temporary governing body of the Gaza Strip
and West Bank territories. Arafat is the dictator of the Palestinian Authority
in everything but title. The Los Angeles Times has described his
domination as stretching "from the largest to the most minor matter."
Palestinians live in constant fear of having their property arbitrarily
confiscated by Arafat's corrupt "police" force. Laws prohibiting free speech are
common and are enforced brutally. To silence those who oppose him, Arafat shuts
down radio and TV stations. According to Amnesty International, dissenters are
arbitrarily detained, tortured, or "encouraged" at gunpoint to leave the
territories. In November 1999 a group of prominent intellectuals who signed a
petition accusing Arafat's regime of corruption was summarily jailed. They were
lucky; some recalcitrants are assassinated.
Arafat's current regime is
barbaric and oppressive. One can logically predict that conditions in an
independent Palestinian state would be worse than they are presently.
Viewed in this context of
dictatorial rule, the alleged right of Palestinians to "self-determination" is
groundless. No group has a right to its own state if what it seeks is a
dictatorship. Arafat's "Palestinian self-determination" really means more of
Arafat's despotism—it means granting legitimacy to a state that is utterly
hostile to its own citizens.
Ayn Rand wrote, "the right of 'the self-determination of nations' applies only
to free societies or to societies seeking to establish freedom; it does not
apply to dictatorships." The only legitimate reason to found a new state is to
escape tyranny and secure freedom. Thus, America's Founding Fathers rightly
fought for independence from England's oppressive rule; the United States was
founded on the recognition of individual rights. What Palestinians desire,
however, is the "right" to be rightless serfs in a state run by a ruthless
dictator. Nobody has a right to create and maintain such a state.
Palestinians would be better off
staying under Israeli rule (as some Palestinians admit, when safe to do so). To
the extent that the Arabs living in Israel have accepted Western values such as
individual responsibility, property rights, and the rule of law, they have
thrived. The material evidence of that flourishing can be seen in the relatively
high standard of living found in many Arab villages in Israel. Indeed,
Palestinians rely on the relative economic freedom and prosperity offered in
Israel to make a living.
Israel also offers Palestinians more precious values.
What Arab country gives its
inhabitants the liberty to protest, to publish articles and books opposing the
government (as many Jews and Palestinians do in Israel)? What Arab country has
free elections or a judicial system in which all are treated equally before the
law? None. In Israel, Palestinians have more freedom and more economic
opportunities than they have in any Arab country, and than they could possibly
have in a future Palestinian state run by the PLO or any other dictatorial
group. If the choice is between a Palestinian state run by terrorists like
Arafat and remaining under Israeli rule, the latter is by far the better option.
If Palestinians were serious about
having their own free state, they would start by deposing and arresting Yasser
Arafat for his crimes against his own people. In place of the terrorists now
representing them, Palestinians should send to the negotiating table
representatives who believe in and honor individual rights—leaders who plan to
establish a free civilized country where violence is abhorred and suppressed.
Palestinians should treat Israel as an older and wiser neighbor from whom they
have much to learn, rather than an enemy to be destroyed. Only when Palestinians
are willing to negotiate with Israel on such terms, will they have earned the
right to a state of their own.
Dr. Brook is executive director
of the Ayn Rand Institute in
Marina del Rey, Calif. The Institute promotes the philosophy of Ayn
Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The