How We Were Duped into Disowning the Palestinians

Are you surprised that there has been little mobilization to help Yarmouk, the Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus, which is overrun by militants, and besieged by the Syrian army? Palestinians — and Syrians — there are killed in a myriad of ways, including starvation.

I am not surprised. Even before Palestinian refugees found themselves embroiled in Syria’s conflict, I appealed to all parties involved, including the Palestinian leaderships (alas, there are several) to spare the refugees the burden of war, and for Palestinians to set their differences aside to avoid a repeat of Lebanon, Kuwait and Iraq.

Nothing happened, as if recent history was of no consequence and offered no lesson. Hamas was stuck in Gaza, in a real and figurative sense — its attempt at regional politicking was a failure, and is, like 1.7 million refugees is reeling under siege. Mahmoud Abbas, his Palestinian Authority and whatever branch of his Fatah party currently at the helm is stuck in his Area A — a supposedly self-governed region that constitutes about 3 percent of the West Bank.

While the Israeli army can still raid Area A, made mostly of densely populated cities — arresting Palestinians at well — Abbas is entrusted in managing the affairs of the Palestinians there, which should have been an Israeli responsibility as an Occupying Power, under the Geneva Conventions.