Several years ago, I had a friend who was a very devout libertarian. He told me this joke:
I have a friend who works in the Department of Agriculture. I visited him at his office the other day, and he was sobbing at his desk.
“What’s the problem, Bob?”
“I’m going to lose my job!”
“How? You’re a government bureaucrat! You can’t be fired! You have a lifetime job! What could have possibly happened to put your job at risk?”
“My farmer died!”
His joke was a commentary on bureaucrats, and how the Department of Agriculture was — like most government agencies — horribly bloated and loaded with worthless hacks.
He was also fond of pointing out that the Department of Agriculture produces not one whit of food, much like the Department of Education teaches no children, the Department of Energy produces no power, and the Department of Commerce sells nothing.
The essence of any government job can be summed up in four single words: Don’t Kill The Job. Do your job, but under no circumstances finish anything, because then there won’t be funding for that next year, and once you finish your task, you could be fired — along with everyone else who works with you.
This is not exclusive to American bureaucrats. Any bureaucrats, in any organization, is susceptible to this.
Regardless of the consequences.
In 1948, immediately after the creation of the modern state of Israel, about 1.6 million refugees were created. About half of them fled Arab and Muslim lands and migrated to Israel, where they started afresh, shed their old national identities, and became Israelis and got to work towards building a future.
The other half were Palestinians, many of whom had bought into their Arab and Muslim brothers’ promise to “get out of the way while we drive the Jews into the sea, and then you can go home again.”
Almost sixty years later, and that genocidal promise remains unfilled.
These refugees were not welcomed by their brothers. They were stuffed into refugee “camps” (that have developed into cities, but not recognized as such because that would be acknowledging their permanancy), denied citizenship, their freedoms of movement and labor restricted, and essentially kept for two reasons: 1) a source of cheap labor for the host country (much like illegal aliens in the United States), and 2) a rhetorical club, a convenient set of “victims of the Zionists” to keep the anti-Israeli sentiments going strong.
How has the world treated this problem? How has the United Nations dealt with this?
Why, doing what they do best: throwing bureaucrats at it.
Caring for refugees is a major concern of the UN. But only one group has a permanent, standing UN body devoted solely to their care: the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.
It seems to me that relief workers, much like doctors, policemen, firefighters, soldiers, and others who fight against human suffering, would fantasize about the day when they are no longer needed. Would strive endlessly to put themselves out of business.
Let’s look at the Palestinians’ situation from an extremely simple perspective: who benefits by keeping them in their current state?
The UN does. It gives them a purpose, a cause, a set of good works they can point to and say “see the important work we do?” They get to wear the proud mantle of “caregiver,” knowing that they can count on a steady paycheck to keep the Palestinians in their current state.
The Arab and Muslim world does. There’s nothing like an external enemy to keep the populace in line, and the Arab and Muslim world is pretty much a solid set of monarchies, dictatorships, theocracies, and other forms of thugocracies and kleptocracies. Keeping the people whipped up about the Evil Zionist Jooooos keeps them from getting too interested in their own freedoms and thinking too much about their own dissatisfactions in life. By having the Palestinians around as living, breathing symbols of “Zionist oppression,” they can keep their own people in line.
The current Palestinian leadership does. Right now, they have much of the power of a government, but none of the responsibilities. The obligations of a government are fairly well summed up by the Preamble of the United States Constitution:
…in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity…
The only one the Palestinian Authority comes close to doing is their attempts to “provide for the common offense.” They coordinate, plan, and carry out attacks against Israel. Everything else, they slough off on others to do.
Now, who would benefit from an actual solution to the Palestinian problem?
Well, Israel, for one. While some point to the Palestinians as a source of cheap labor in Israel, it’s worth pointing out that after some particularly heinous terrorist attack inside Israel, they close down their borders with the Palestinian territories — and only re-open them after considerable pressure from outside. By that fact, it’s fairly easy to say that the Palestinians need the jobs more than Israel needs the workers.
The United States would, as well. We tie up a great deal of our resources in the Middle East, and the Palestinian situation is the biggest open wound over there. (Iraq is running second.) A peaceful, stable solution would be of tremendous benefit to us.
Of course, the biggest beneficiaries to a solution to the Palestinian problem would be the Palestinians themselves. The ability to be free from oppression, free from handouts, free from being used as political cudgels, free to determine their own destinies, free from the relentless “blame the Jooooos for all your problems” message they get from every direction, and they might — just might — be able to not only survive, but prosper.
But I fear it might be too late for them. They have spent literally generations as an underclass, a political football kicked back and forth, cynically used and exploited by those who benefit from their suffering. They are caught in a “welfare trap” the likes of which is far, far beyond the wet dreams of the most paternalistic Great Society proponent.
But that kind of freedom comes with responsibility. And most of the world has spent sixty years breeding that kind of independence out of the Palestinians, replacing it with dependence, hatred, and impotence. They’ve been told that they are victims, that victimhood is their lot in life, and only through hatred and violence can they truly be free.
If there were true justice in this world, the Arab and Muslim nations would have offered the Palestinians citizenship and allowed them to assimilate into their new homelands. If there were true justice, the bureaucrats at UNRWA would be tried for crimes against humanity.
But that ain’t gonna happen. The Palestinians have been snared too long in this gilded cage, and they have grown addicted to dependence. I have no idea how the cycle will be broken.
There are only two things that I am certain of, though. First, the price paid in blood will continue to rise.
And second, virtually none of those who ought to be paying that price in their own blood will actually end up suffering.