State­-Building Can Pave the Way to Statehood: Lessons from Kurdistan

David Ben-Gurion signs the Israeli Declaration of Independence.

International support will play a major role in determining whether Palestinians win their bid for statehood, just as it did for Israel. David Ben-Gurion signs the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948. Credit: Creative Commons/Government Press Office of Israel.

How did the Palestinians’ odds for statehood and those of the Kurds get reversed in twenty years? The Kurds have spent several decades, especially the last, constructing the educational, economic, military, and political institutions for statehood. Most telling is the growth in women’s rights and the decline in family honor killings. Turning from killing women and Turks to building Kurdish autonomy, the Kurds are achieving growing international support for their bid for statehood.

Mahmoud Abbas celebrating.

Mahmoud Abbas celebrates after the UN General Assembly votes to grant Palestine observer state status in 2012. Credit: UN Photo / Rick Bajornas.

Similarly, the case for Palestinian statehood will not be made by bashing Israel, by arguing for the moral superiority of one’s narrative and one’s victimhood, or by asking what is good for Israel alone. The real question is what is good for the Palestinians. A people slaughtered by Arab Jordanians and Lebanese Christians in the 1970s, expelled by Kuwaitis in the 1990s, and massacred by Syrian Muslims in our day deserve better. They deserve a modern, democratic state.

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