For some time, the Palestinian Authority has been failing to keep the peace in the refugee camps under its control; there have even been gunfights between PA security forces and militants, some of whom belong to a wing of Mahmoud Abbas’s own Fatah faction. This breakdown of order, writes Evelyn Gordon, says much about the prospects of Palestinian statehood:
[T]he refugee camps are precisely the kind of open sore that Palestinian statehood is theoretically supposed to solve.
In reality, however, the PA has done nothing for the refugees. More than two decades after the PA’s establishment, the refugees’ schooling, healthcare, and welfare allowances are still provided for and funded wholly by UNRWA, the UN agency created especially for this purpose. Or, to be more precise, by the Western countries that fund most of UNRWA’s budget. Nor has the PA moved a single refugee into better housing. And this isn’t because Israel has somehow prevented it from doing so; most of the refugee camps are located in Area A, the part of the West Bank under full Palestinian control. . . .
Moreover, this neglect is quite deliberate: the PA doesn’t see the refugees as citizens to be served, but as a weapon aimed at Israel. They are kept in miserable conditions for the express purpose of creating sympathy for the Palestinian demand that they all be relocated to Israel, thereby eradicating its Jewish majority. . . . Palestinian officials have said quite openly that the refugees will never be granted citizenship in a Palestinian state. . .
In other words, Palestinian statehood now won’t solve a single problem, but assuredly will create a lot of new ones.
American and Israeli Jews, Compared
NOV. 7 2016
Following its much-discussed survey of American Jewry from 2013, the Pew Research Center conducted a similar survey of Israeli Jews. Herewith, a comparison of the two communities based on the results of these surveys, accompanied by video interviews with both experts and ordinary Jews:
[A]lthough Israeli Jews are—on the whole—more religious than American Jews, that’s not the whole story. Because 22 percent of Israeli Jews are Orthodox and an even larger number are secular, Israel has a more religiously polarized Jewish public than America does.
For example, while proportionately there are more Israeli Jews than American Jews who attend synagogue weekly (27 percent vs. 11 percent), there also are more Israeli Jews than American Jews who never attend synagogue (33 percent vs. 22 percent). . . .
Jews in the U.S. and Israel also differ on what “being Jewish” means to them, personally. While both groups largely agree that remembering the Holocaust is vital to their Jewish identity, Americans are far more likely than Israelis to say that pursuing ethics, morality, and justice in society, as well as displaying “intellectual curiosity” and having a “good sense of humor,” are essential to what being Jewish means to them. Israeli Jews, meanwhile, more commonly highlight observance of Jewish law and a connection to Jewish history, culture, or community. . . .
Jewish Americans feel a strong emotional connection with the Jewish state: a solid majority say they are either “very” or “somewhat” attached to Israel and that caring about Israel is either “essential” or “important” to what being Jewish means to them. The connection is felt both ways: most Israeli Jews say Jewish Americans have a good impact on the way things are going in Israel. In addition, most Israeli Jews say that a thriving Diaspora is vital to the long-term survival of the Jewish people and that Jews in the two countries share a “common destiny.”