As I see it, the Palestinians have internalized four “paralyzing narratives” that have prevented them from moving forward.
The first is that they see themselves as being unfairly punished for the great sin of the Europeans, the Holocaust. … In this narrative, Israel is simply a foreign transplant — a forced sovereign intrusion into Arab and Muslim lands.
The second paralyzing narrative is to see Israel as a thief. …
In this narrative, just showing up at negotiations is seen as a major concession. After all, why should the victim of a theft have to negotiate the return of his stolen property?
The third paralyzing narrative is a painful reversal of roles. For centuries, Jews living in Arab lands accepted their roles as dhimmis, or second-class citizens. That was the image of the Jew. Now, suddenly, with the creation of the State of Israel, Jews are in charge. …
The fourth paralyzing narrative is also rooted in humiliation: envy and resentment over Israel’s enormous success. …
While these narratives may paralyze any movement toward peace, they simultaneously speed up another process — that of demonization.
Demonization of the Jews helps reconcile the cognitive dissonance caused by the incredible success of the Jewish state. Only Jewish demons and Jewish conspiracies can explain this extraordinary transformation of the modern Jews of the Middle East.
Of course, the very process of demonization makes everything worse. The more Jews are demonized, the more the peace process is paralyzed.
Add it all up and you have a lot more than “obstacles” to peace. You have profound, fundamental reasons why Palestinians are so reluctant to accept what they call the “catastrophe” of Israel.
It doesn’t matter if these Palestinian narratives are accurate or not. What matters is that they have been nurtured as truth in mainstream Palestinian society.
David Suissa, “Paralyzing Narratives”, Jewish Journal (9-15 May 2014), 7.