Thursday, October 15, 2009

Palestinian Prime Minister Rejects "Mickey Mouse" State. Perhaps Prefers Donald Duck State Instead?

[Warning! Satire. Since the Middle East can be so grim, we have to laugh at it sometimes. But all of the below also happens to be true.]

By Barry Rubin

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad complains about Israel’s offer to the Palestinians. "By all indications they have a Mickey Mouse state in mind," Fayyad said, using the Disney character's name as slang for unimportant or trivial. "It looks like it would not come close to what we have in mind."

Unfortunately, Fayyad didn’t explain what he meant. Possibly he meant that Israel sought an unmilitarized Palestinian state, as if it weren’t serious unless it had a big army? If what Fayyad has in mind is a country with a big gun perhaps he would prefer an Elmer Fudd state.

Or is the problem that Israel wants a Palestinian state which ends the conflict forever? In that case, Fayyad seems to prefer a Wiley Coyote state, which is always trying to trap Israel in order to destroy it.

After all, the Palestinian leadership is always in search of some magic weapon (from Acme Corporation?) and can never accept that it won’t wipe out Israel.

But Israel, like the Roadrunner, always avoids the trap. Like Wiley, the Palestinian leadership always ends up by catching itself in its own trap. Pretty often, it runs off a cliff only to be left standing in mid-air until it looks down and remembers gravity, then plummeting to the valley far far below. Meanwhile, the Roadrunner dashes off merrily unharmed. Beep! Beep!

In a sense, though, Fayyad is right that Israel wants a Palestinian state to be like Mickey. After all, Mickey is a nice guy, never aggressive or violent, always trying to get along with neighbors.
No wonder that role model is so upsetting for Fayyad!

Nevertheless, the mouse metaphor seems to have a powerful hold on the Palestinians and Islamists, too. The Saudi Shaykh, Muhammad Al-Munajid, stated on Al-Majd TV on August 27, 2008, that mice were Satan's soldiers and that "according to Islamic law, Mickey Mouse should be killed.”

Is Fayyad's mouse reference a subtle hint from him that he thinks Israel wants Hamas and its friends to finish him off by demanding he make risky compromises? (Note, in the Arabic-speaking world, any compromise is considered risky, no matter how much you get for making it.)
Or maybe Fayyad has in mind Farfour, the Hamas children’s show character based on Mickey Mouse, who calls for genocide against the Jews but is later killed by the Israelis and thus, as a martyr have to be revenged. Hamas wants a Farfour state.

Farfour once made a mistake of praising the English language, only to be criticized by Sara, the show's cute little suicide-bomber-in-training human co-host: "No, Farfour, you are wrong," she explained, "because you don't know that the Muslims are the basis of civilization. If not for the Muslims, the world wouldn't have gotten to where it is today."

Is that a double-entendre?

But Fayyad has evidently forgotten old Yasir Arafat who when once asked if he watched television answered that he only liked the Tom and Jerry cartoons because he enjoyed the way the mouse always fooled the cat.

So perhaps it is a question of whether the state be based on Mickey Mouse or Jerry the Mouse or Farfour the Mouse.

Personally, though, I think Fayyad should ask for a Donald Duck state, a far more appropriate choice. Here’s what a Disney site says about Donald. While Disney (which believes that everyone is naturally good, a nice idea for a children's entertainment company but not for a U.S. president) attributes good intentions to Donald, it continues (please allow me to quote as length as it is too perfect):

"But by the time they surface Donald's already off and running in the wrong direction. He refuses to let anyone or anything stand in his way. It doesn't matter how much humiliation the world dishes out to him, Donald will take it and come back for more. He's a loser, not a quitter, and he'll go down fighting. This is a duck with one short fuse, and...when things don't go right, he goes ballistic. Yet after the storm is over and the tantrum is through, when faithful Daisy [one of the heavenly virgins?] soothes his brow or his conscience finally catches up with him, even Donald can admit that there must be a better way. If only he could figure out what it is.

"Hot-headed Donald is a little man in a big world that's trying to keep him down. Call it fate, or call it lack of self-control, nothing goes right for this duck: even his best intentions often go awry. Of course, by the time his best intentions surface he's probably already chasing after less noble pursuits. As stubborn as he is temperamental, he won't give in, even when he's up to his beak in trouble. Then watch out. Like a lot of people with a temper problem, he's blind to his own faults but quick to see them in others. He can't understand why life seems so much easier for pals Mickey and easy-going Goofy. It's not fair. Still, Donald will keep struggling to get what he deserves in the world."

Now if Fayyad admits that Donald Duck is the perfect symbol for the Palestinian movement and the state he wants to create, the casting will be perfect. Moreover, the Saudis can be Scrooge McDuck, Donald’s wealthy uncle who never helps him despite having mountains of money in his vault.

And to this I can only add: That's all, Folks!

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books. To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports.

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