After the bitter summer of 1982, the Palestinians of the occupied West Bank are torn by emotions ranging from fear and anger to pride and hope.
There is fear in some quarters, Palestinian leaders say, that the summer's most crushing event--the massacre at the Shatila and Sabra refugee camps in West Beirut--could foretell the fate of other Palestinians, in Lebanon and even in the Israeli-occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
There is bitterness and anger toward Israel, but even more toward the United States, for failing to prevent or halt the massacre.
"The feeling against America," said Akram Haniyah, editor of an Arab newspaper, "is at a new high."
There is pride that the Palestine Liberation Organization fighters left Beirut with their heads and their banners held high, and some hope that this "political victory" and the worldwide attention the war in Lebanon focused on the Palestinian cause can be turned against Israel.
But there also is a despondency that has gripped the West Bank since June, when the Israeli Army invaded Lebanon and drove the PLO guerrillas into a corner in West Beirut.
"Yes, I am discouraged," said Bethlehem Mayor Elias Freij, considered a moderate Palestinian leader. "I am a practical man. What are our options? Since Reagan made his proposals, how many Jewish settlements have been established, how much land has been taken from our people? Who has really lifted a finger for us?"
The Beirut massacre set off a series of sporadic strikes and disturbances in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but there was no general eruption of violence. Now, many Palestinians here say, the next great battleground in the conflict with the Israeli authorities is likely to be the campuses of the three main West Bank universities--Bethlehem, Bir Zeit near Ramallah and Najah University here in Nablus.
Beginning last month, while world attention was focused on Lebanon, the Israeli civil administration in the West Bank began to enforce a new regulation that requires foreigners who lecture at the universities to sign an anti-PLO pledge before they are granted new work permits. The authorities are requiring the same thing of students from Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip who do not hold West Bank identity cards before they are allowed to enroll in classes for the current academic year.
"I hereby declare," the statement says, "that I am fully committed against . . . offering any assistance to the organization called the PLO or any other terrorist organization that is considered to be hostile to the state of Israel."
The order affects more than 100 teachers at the three universities, a sizable portion of their faculties. Almost all have refused to sign it, contending it is a vague political statement and an infringement on academic freedom.
"If we sign it, eventually we will be asked to sign something else," said Leighton Pratt, an Irish national and one of the threatened teachers at Bir Zeit. "Eventually we have to take a stand even if we are deported."
Deportation of foreign teachers whose current work permits have expired has already begun. Najah University is scheduled to open for classes next Saturday. But it has already lost 13 faculty members to deportation, including Abdul-Rahman Shaheen, the school's vice president, and 15 others are directly threatened. On Oct. 20, Munther Salah, Najah's president, a native of Nablus but the holder of a Jordanian passport, is due to be deported.
Israeli officials say the purpose of the anti-PLO pledge is to make "absolutely clear" to foreign teachers that any link to the PLO is unlawful. "We want the universities to open and will do everything we can to help them open," said a spokesman for the civil administration.
But to the Palestinians, the new regulation is only part of a broader, post-Lebanon war strategy designed to disrupt and repress higher education and other sources of Palestinian nationalism in the West Bank.
"They are trying to destroy all of our institutions," said Mousa Jayyousi, a lawyer and member of the Najah board of trustees.
The Beirut massacre, added Saeb Erakat, a political science lecturer at the university, only confirmed their worst fears.
"We felt there is an international conspiracy against everything that is Palestinian," he said. "We had the guarantees of the biggest power in the world--the United States--and with all that it still happened."
Some Palestinians such as Ibrahim Tawil, the deposed mayor of El Bireh, believe the massacre was the work of Israeli soldiers dressed in the uniforms of the Lebanese Christian Phalangist militia. Most accept that the killing at Shatila and Sabra was committed by the Christian militiamen, but this has not diminished their anger at Israel for sending the Phalangists into the refugee camps, or at the United States for failing to halt the slaughter.
Weeks before the massacre, a Western diplomat predicted that the United States would pay a high price for President Reagan's highly publicized telephone call to Prime Minister Menachem Begin in August ordering a halt to heavy Israeli bombing of West Beirut. The telephone call had little to do with stopping the bombing, he said, but the White House-inspired publicity surrounding it would only reinforce the Arab view that when the United States wants to it can make Israel do its bidding.
The diplomat turned out to be a prophet. "Why didn't Mr. Reagan use his telephone to stop it?" asked one Palestinian voicing a widely held view about U.S. responsibility for the incident.
In this atmosphere, there appears to be little support among Palestinian nationalist leaders for the Reagan peace initiative, which precludes an independent Palestinian state and calls for the West Bank and Gaza to be linked to Jordan. If anything, the Palestinians say, the events of the summer have strengthened their resolve to hold out for their own state, even if it takes generations. History, they say repeatedly, is on their side.
"Without a state, we will always be exposed to tragedies like what happened in Beirut," one of them said.
Looking for signs of hope, the nationalist leaders say that Israel's larger war aim of destroying the PLO's influence in the occupied territories has failed. The PLO's survival through the siege of Beirut was a source of inspiration, boosting its standing in the West Bank, according to both Palestinian leaders and Western diplomats.
The resignation of Menachem Milson, head of the civil administration, to protest the events in Lebanon is viewed as another sign of Israeli failure, an admission that the year-old experiment to supplant the military government with a permanent civilian structure on the road to annexation will not work, even if the daily reality of occupation is not expected to change.
"The policy did not resign with Milson," said editor Haniyah.
Still others cling to the hope that a change in Israeli public opinion will bring down the Begin government and replace it with a more sympathetic leadership.
"There are some in Israel who feel we should have a Palestinian state," Tawil said. "Every day I am sure they are increasing because Israel cannot live constantly with war.
"The understanding has to come that if they don't have peace with the Palestinians they will live all their lives insecure. You can see it with the soldiers who patrol here. They are afraid of us, and we are afraid of them. We are not living, and they are not living."