Scenes from a mall

On Friday, Charles Krauthammer devoted his weekly column to a discussion of progress in the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: “Progress in the Mideast.” First, Krauthammer asserts that “the more than four-year-long intifada, which left more than 1,000 Israelis and 3,000 Palestinians dead, is over. And better than that, defeated.” Second, he declares the Gaza withdrawal a success. Third, he finds electoral campaigns underway in both Israel and Arafatistan. He attributes these outcomes to Israeli unilateralism and Palestinian maturation.

On point one, however, Krauthammer does not indicate what he means by the assertion that the intifada is over. The war seems to continue. Indeed, it seems to have become institutionalized in the various terror groups that operate both within the Fatah umbrella and outside it. Every day Israeli security forces intercept suicide bombers and the like. Only the successful ones make the news, such as today’s in Netanya: “Suicide bombing outside Netanya mall kills five.”

On point two, the Gaza withdrawal was a success only in the sense that Israeli civil society has suffered no irreparable damage as a result. But is it a success in any other terms? Again, Krauthammer doesn’t indicate whether he believes it a success in terms other than that. Will it contribute to regional stability, let alone Israel’s security? Krauthammer doesn’t say, and the early evidence is not encouraging. See, for example, “IDF to resume targeted killings.” Why? Because of the rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel proper. See also “Israel blew chance to blacklist Hamas.”

On point three, the electoral campaign in Israel is nothing new. In Arafatistan, however, the electoral campaign appears to offer voters the choice between Fatah and other terrorist organizations. Do prospects for the rule of law appear anywhere in sight? See “PA embroiled in anarchy ahead of elections.”

All the linked articles come from today’s Jerusalem Post and my point may be a captive of today’s news. Nevertheless, given the generalities of Krauthammer’s column, how else is one to judge its accuracy? Krauthammer offers little guidance. Indeed, on the key point of Palestinian “maturation,” Krauthammer seems to waver between describing it as an achieved fact and a hypothetical prospect:

The other great watershed has been the maturation of the Palestinian national movement. Arafat was a revolutionary who disdained nation-building. Revolutionaries destroy the old order. His mission was to destroy Israel. Which is why, to the consternation of his Western admirers, in 10 years he built not a single schoolhouse, hospital or road in the territory he controlled. Instead, he built a dozen private militias and a state propaganda machine designed to poison the new generation against Israel. Now that he is gone, the Palestinian cause can begin the demystification from revolution to nation-building.

(Emphasis added.) Well, has the Palestinian national movement matured, or might it do so in the future? I find this an amazingly poor performance from one of America’s most clear-eyed commentators on the Middle East. The evidence of the day seems to me rather powerfully to undercut his thesis.

UPDATE: The photographs below show the aftermath at the Netanya mall, depicting the authorities at work gathering evidence.

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