A few days ago, The New York Times published a front-page article that painted a grim portrait of a young Palestinian living a miserable existence in Gaza.

Conditions for this 22-year old man are so difficult that he has joined in the Gaza protests at the Israeli border despite the risk of being killed.  For him, there is no difference between living and dying.

 For anyone who mistakenly believes that Israel’s response to these protests has been disproportionate, keep in mind that the Gaza protests have been anything but peaceful.  And, they are a forerunner to an announced plan to attempt to illegally gain entry into Israel.

Further, these protests and the planned breach of Israel’s internationally-recognized border has been incited or supported by Hamas, the internationally-recognized terrorist organization that governs Gaza.

While it is fashionable to affirm Israel’s right to self-defense, it would appear to be equally fashionable to object to Israel’s effective assertion of that right.

Returning to the plight of the young Palestinian protestor, this is not the way his life had to be nor the way it has to be.

While Palestinians are planning to mark the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, or catastrophe, of their flight when Israel was established, Israel is commemorating the 70th anniversary of its founding, which included the absorption of 750,000 Jews expelled from the Muslim countries of the Middle East. 

These immigrants helped build a modern, economically thriving democracy, while Palestinians built and many continue to live in refugee camps.

 In the Times article, the young Palestinian called attention to an Israeli airstrike that killed a neighbor’s pigeons and chickens and destroyed his business.  But, the Israeli strike was a response to Gazan rocket and mortar attacks on civilian homes in Israel.

Moreover, it was the Gazans themselves, not Israel, that destroyed the economically-thriving greenhouses that were left when Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza more than a decade ago.

 Palestinians cannot continue to live in the past, dwelling on what they perceive as generations-old injustices.

It’s past time for this young Palestinian and his peers to put away their dreams of a return to homes they never even knew, homes their grandparents abandoned generations ago.

 Protests against Israel will not alter the abysmal conditions under which many Palestinians live in Gaza. 

Only a responsive Palestinian government, not bent on Israel’s destruction, but willing to accept its existence and to begin the task of building a modern Palestinian state, can address these economic realities.

 It is up to the Palestinians themselves to demand the necessary changes instead of subsisting on the pipe dreams doled out by their rulers. 

If the existing Palestinian governors won’t change, it’s time for the Palestinians to change their governors.

Jay N. Feldman

Port Washington

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