Stop the Killing in Israel and Palestine: A Prayer, Analysis, and Strategy

Stop the Killing in Israel and Palestine: A Prayer, Analysis & Strategy… plus an article from AlJazeera giving some voices of Palestinians 

A prayer and an analysis from Tikkun/NSP (please post this on your social media and your web page, tweet about it, and circulate it widely–you have our permission)

THE PRAYER:
As we watch in horror as violence in Israel and Palestine escalates and there continues to be needless and senseless killings, we offer a prayer of love, compassion and strength.

May Israelis and Palestinians find the love that resides deep in their hearts and pulses through all of us, the love that cries to us from the loving energy of the universe to love the “Other,” the “Stranger.” This is a love that can be hard to access and find and yet it is a never-ending, all pervasive love that encourages and calls us to stand-up for the well-being of each other, for the security of all, for justice for all, for peace. May the Israelis and Palestinians use this well-spring of love to overcome their fears and stand for a new future.

May the Israelis and Palestinians find the compassion that lives in each person but that is often suppressed in times of fear and anger and learn to ask the questions that so many seem afraid to ask. What would cause a young man or woman to kill a stranger? What fear, what sorrow, what pain lurks in the dark crevasses of their hearts? How can we begin to heal the pain, the sorrow, the loss? Where can we start?

May the Israelis and Palestinians access the strength that permeates the roots of Mother Earth and embolden them to demand a different future. To cross divides and build bridges that flow with human beings coming together opening their hearts to each other with generosity and love and work together towards peace and reconciliation.

We bow our heads in sorrow, in grief, in angst and even in rage that innocent lives are being lost on all sides and pray for a healing and reconciliation.

This prayer was written by Cat Zavis, the Executive Director of the Network of Spiritual Progressives

THE ANALYSIS:
So where did all this violence in Israel and Palestine come from? Where shall we start? If you want the big historical picture from 1880 to the present moment, you’ll get two very different narratives depending on who is telling it. In my book Embracing Israel/PalestineI try to tell the story in a way that is sympathetic to each side, and critical of each side. The truth is that each side has at times been cruel and unreasonable toward the other.

But if you focus on the past few decades, the reality is that both people are currently suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder–the Jewish people from the trauma of living as a homeless people for some 1700 years, many in a Christian Europe that blamed us for killing their messiah/god or in Muslim countries in apartheid-like powerlessness, eventually culminating in the murder of one out of every three Jews alive at the time from 1939-1945; and the Palestinian people from the Naqba or disaster of having 800,000 driven from their land in 1948 during Israel’s war for independence and then those who remained being conquered in 1967 and living under Occupation or blockade ever since for the past 48 years. While the Israeli army has been occupying the West Bank, what in 1948 was originally in 1948 800,000 Palestinian refugees living in exile have grown to 4 million, many of them living in some of the worst conditions anywhere on the planet, often treated horribly by the Arab countries where they live in refugee camps. Meanwhile, Israel has provided economic and political incentives to Jewish Israelis to move to the West Bank, build settlements there that, under the protection of the Israeli army, have seized Arab lands and expanded and appropriated the water resources while Arab Palestinians have had desperate water shortages. Many of them go not because they want to oppress Palestinians but because they can live in comfortable villas on the hills overlooking Palestinian villages in comfort they could not possibly afford elsewhere in Israel. But once there, most refuse to listen to the stories of Palestinian suffering, and their role in sustaining that, instead, like most Israelis, stuck in the stories of past Jewish suffering, and seeing themselves as victims rather than as perpetrators. PTSD clouds the vision of even the most decent among them.

Palestinians living within the borders of the pre-1967 Israel have been given equal rights legally, but de facto face discrimination in housing and employment while those living in the occupied West Bank face a de facto system of apartheid with housing in the settlements closed to Israeli Arab citizens, with special roads built for the Jewish settlers and prohibited to the Arab residents, and with an army presence which responds to demonstrations with systematic violence and a quasi-legal system which typically imprisons thousands of Palestinians without trial in what they call “administrative detention.” Israel claims to be a democracy, yet denies the West Bankers the right to vote in Israeli elections but meanwhile imposes taxes and creates laws for those over whom it has been ruling for the past 48 years.

While Israel signed the Oslo Accords which promised to end the Occupation in five years, after Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was murdered by a Jewish religious fanatic, the accord was de-facto gutted by Israel increasing the settlers from the 150,000 that lived there in 1993 to some 500,000 living there now. And every week the Israeli Army kills some Palestinians, often young teenagers protesting the Occupation.

This story is enough reason to understand why the Palestinian people have twice risen in rebellion against the Occupation, yet these Intifadas, as they are called in Arabic, only increased the denial of Palestinian human rights by Israelis. Israelis, many of them either survivors of the Holocaust or the children of survivors, have been led by their government and by the dominant right-wing Zionist ideology, to see these rebellions as manifestations of hatred toward Jews rather than as desperate measures by an oppressed people. So whereas Israeli violence against Palestinians has always been described as legitimate acts of self-defense, every act of rebellion against an unjust occupier are called acts of terrorists.

Not that the Palestinian people have always had clean hands. Their refusal to allow Jews to come to Palestine in the years when Nazism was sweeping Europe, their ability to convince Arab states to use their oil-based influence to get the British occupiers of Palestine to set up a blockade against Jews seeking refuge in Palestine not only before and during the second world war, but also from 1945-48 when hundreds of thousands of Jewish survivors of Nazism were placed in refugee camps in Europe and prevented from coming to Palestine, created a legacy of anger at the Palestinian people among Israelis who were in those European refugee camps or had friends or relatives who went through that post-Holocaust experience. . And the assault on the newly proclaimed Jewish state by 7 surrounding Arab states seemed to have the covert and sometimes overt support of sections of the Palestinian people, which contributed to the anger of Israelis at those who insisted that Jews had no right to a state of their own, even though Arabs had over a dozen Arab and Islamic states at the time.

The nationalist extremist section of the Zionist movement that had hoped that Arabs would simply leave Palestine used the 1947-49 war to terrorize Palestinian civilians, causing hundreds of thousands to flee for their safety, while the Israel Army (IDF) forcibly removed at least another 80 to 100 thousand Arabs from their homes. These Arab refugees were not allowed by Israel to return to their homes, though most had not sought to hurt Israelis but only to flee to safety in surrounding Arab lands that was not available to Israeli Jews who had no other place to flee. The guilt over this unusual and human-rights violating act of in not allowing Palestinian non-combatant civilians to return to their homes, thereby creating the Arab refugee problem, was transformed by Israelis into a refusal to listen to Palestinian suffering lest it open the door to the demand for a “right of return” to Palestinian homes, many of which had already been given to newly arriving Israeli Holocaust-survivors. This denial of responsibility by Israel unleashed a hatred by Palestinians and their supporters around the world that had been much more narrowly based among Arabs before this development. When Palestinian refugees sought to take back some of their stolen farms or houses in the early 1950s, they were met with the armed might of the fledgling Israeli army in a special unit led by Ariel Sharon, and were described as Arab terrorists.

When Israel opened its gates to hundreds of thousands of Jews who had been living in Arab states in the 1950s, it was flooded with people who brought with them a history of anger at Muslims for what they perceived to be the hatred and anti-Semitism that had shaped their experience of living under Arab rule. While I believe that experience was shaped in large part by the way the colonial powers set up the tensions between Arabs and Jews in North Africa and in Middle Eastern states in the years before the creation of Israel, the actual experience of being a hated minority by these Sephardic or Mitzrachi Jews from Muslim lands seemed to mesh well with the Zionists who created Israel and who had refused, once the fighting stopped in 1948, to allow Palestinians to return to their homes.

Yet from the standpoint of many Israelis, all this is ancient history, and Palestinians ought to have adjusted to life under Occupation. But that has not happened. Instead, Islamic fundamentalism spread among powerless and impoverished Palestinians, first in Gaza, and more recently among some in the West Bank as well. The primary organization of fundamentalists, Hamas, has never rescinded its commitment to eliminate the Jewish state, unlike the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Liberation Organization that have over and over again proclaimed their willingness to live in peace with Israel. In the past ten years, the Palestinian Authority has actively collaborated with the Israeli security forces, for the most part succeeding in preventing terrorists from using the West Bank as a launching pad for attacks on Israel or even on the West Bank settlements.

In an act of deep cynicism, Israel withdrew from Gaza and refused to pass its military control over to the Palestinian Authority, knowing that Gaza would thus fall into the hands of Hamas. Then, using the excuse of Hamas’ relentless opposition to the State of Israel, the right-wing governments of Israel in the past ten years have used fear of these fundamentalists as their excuse to continue to stir up anger at Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular. And after pretending to want negotiations with the Palestinians during the Obama years, Israel kept on expanding its settlements in the West Bank, imposed a crippling blockade on Gaza, and then refused to honor the promise it had made to the Palestinian Authority to release Palestinian prisoners in March of 2014. When 3 teenagers from the West Bank settlements were kidnapped and brutally murdered, the Israeli government escalated its harassment of Hamas supporters in the West Bank and killed some Gazan Hamas activists, which in turn precipitated Hamas responding with rocket attacks on Israel which were thwarted by the US military’s Protective Shield, while Israeli devastated Gaza that summer, killing over 2400 Gazans and wounding thousands more, and leaving tens of thousands more homeless. Yet from the standpoint of the Israeli people, the intent of those rockets aimed at Israeli cities was proof that if they could, Hamas would try to wipe them all out–and that gave the Israeli Right a further legitimacy to escalate its vilification of all Palestinians and allowed Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to win re-election in March of 2015 and to create the most Right-wing and racist coalition Israel has ever seen. Hamas thereby managed to restimulate the deepest PTSD fears of the Israeli people for their own survival, while Palestinians, suffering from their own PTSD, seemed unable to recognize how much the terrorist acts of a few only managed to further confirm Israeli anger and support for more repressive policies.

It was in this context that a group of Israeli Jewish nationalist fundamentalists decided to provoke a new struggle for control of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem which is where one of Islam’s holiest sites, the Al Asqa Mosque is located. Under agreements that Israel has made with the Islamic authorities, the Temple Mount has been under the control of Muslim religious leaders who prevent Jews and Christians who visit the Temple Mount to pray there. Yet some of the settlers believe that they should reclaim that site and rebuild the ancient Jewish Temple and resume the daily sacrifices of animals prescribed in the Torah and abandoned when the Temple was destroyed in 70 C.E. So every year at the time of Jewish holidays some of them go to the Temple Mount to symbolically reclaim that space for Jewish nationalist religious extremism. And in anticipation of this happening again, the Israeli government closed the Temple Mount to most Palestinian men under the age of fifty, allowing a very small number to come to pray.

Why is this nationalist extremism and not simply a legitimate expression of a religious yearning to return to the period two thousand years ago when Jews controlled that religious site? Because for the past many hundreds of years most orthodox authorities explicitly prohibit religious Jews from going to the Temple Mount at all, arguing that we do not know exactly where the Holy of Holies of the Temple was located on that space, and that stepping into that space is forbidden by Torah law to anyone but the High Priest (a position which has been vacant for the past two thousand years). So the reason why this group of nationalist fundamentalists goes up to the Temple Mount in large numbers on Succot is to provoke the Palestinians and to demonstrate the absolute powerlessness of the Palestinian people to even protect their own holy Islamic site. The response has been consistent and predictable: young Muslims throw rocks at these Jewish provocateurs, Israeli police then teargas the Muslim demonstrators, the Mosque is shut to Muslims and the Palestinian people are once again humiliated and prevented from praying in their holy mosque. To add to the tension, members of the Knesset held public hearings about the status of the Temple Mount in which they publicized the position of Right-wing settlers that the Temple Mount should revert to Jewish control and the Mosque should be shut.

Given all the rest of the story, it was not surprising (though deplorable) that some individual Palestinians would respond to this whole history, and then to the repression symbolized by the Israeli authorities preventing access to many Palestinians to the Temple Mount, with acts of violence.

Acts of random violence and murders of some Israeli civilians by individual Palestinians acting often on impulse, as deplorable and morally outrageous as they are, were not unpredictable–in fact, many Israelis at this moment wonder if they are only the first stage in yet another widespread Intifada. I hope not, because I don’t want to see either Israelis or Palestinians killed. Yet I can also understand (though not condone) the outrage of Palestinians to this whole history, and now to the greater repression facing Palestinians as Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government has given the ok to respond to Palestinians engaged in acts of rock throwing or other acts of violence by killing them. In the past week Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have faced systematic harassment and violence from police and the IDF called in to supplement police forces. And the government has encouraged Israelis to carry firearms and to shoot people suspected of being on the verge of doing acts of violence. By and large Israelis have responded to these calls with acts of vigilantism, and the situation might soon explode to deeper violence.

But I doubt if it will. The reality is that the Palestinian people on the West Bank, and most Palestinians living in Israel, are well aware of the futility of armed struggle, and in any event most don’t have arms even vaguely sufficient to hold off the immense power of the Israeli army. The truth is that the Palestinian people at the moment are largely a psychologically defeated people, lacking creative non-violent leadership, and though some individuals are likely to continue random acts of violence, most observers think it unlikely that we will see anything like the level of response to the occupation that characterized the intifadas of the past. Nor will we see what would be far more strategically smart: massive non-violent civil disobedience by Palestinian citizens of Israel coordinated with similar non-violent resistance among the occupied West Bankers.

We who are spiritual progressives find ourselves in a similar position of powerlessness. Yet as Cat Zavis’ prayer (above) suggests, there is one thing on our side: the abiding hunger of every human being to live in a world of love and kindness and generosity. That yearning has not been totally defeated among Israelis or Palestinians, and though this looks like a very dark time, it will emerge again, though that day may be several decades into the future.

What will help that yearning emerge more fully in Israel and Palestine is if it can first become a shaping force in Western societies. We, in the United States, have the blood of hundreds of thousands on our hands from the murder and displacement of Native Americans, slavery, Vietnam, and more recently from our war in Iraq that eventually virtually destroyed that country’s capacity to function and unleashed forces that now manifest as ISIS and other Islamic fundamentalist groups. It is our responsibility, and our opportunity to transcend the militarist approach to world problems, to reject the strategy of domination and military/economic/cultural/diplomatic “power over” others as the alleged path to homeland security ( a path that has been used for the past 10,000 years and rarely yields peace and well-being, and replace it with a strategy of generosity as manifested in the Network of Spiritual Progressives’Global Marshall Plan. If there was a candidate for the President who was talking about this kind of approach and endorsing the strategy of generosity and the Global Marshall Plan, the most loving and hopeful parts of most Americans would respond and that candidate would have a good chance of becoming the next president, or the next president after that!

It is only when such a development happens in the West in a real way, and Western societies replace their attempts to dominate the world with attempts to engage in a respectful and generous way with the world’s population that there is the chance that we can help Israelis and Palestinians move closer to reconciliation of the heart. No political solution without that change of heart is likely to last or be viable for any length of time.

And that is why it is so important for those who want a world of peace to embrace the Global Marshall Plan. Please download the full 32-page description of it in the pamphlet you can get for free atwww.tikkun.org/gmp. And in the meantime, join with all of us in the religious and spiritual world who are praying for an end to the violence from both sides, and for a miraculous appearance of a new spirit of love and generosity.

To help make that happen, please not only pray with us, but join the Network of Spiritual Progressives atwww.spiritualprogressives.org/join and help us get your local city council, state legislature, and elected Congressional reps (your Congressperson and your two senators) and any presidential candidate you support to endorse the Network of Spiritual Progressives’ version of the Global Marshall Plan. This is specifically what You can do, so don’t say you didn’t know what you could do, because this is concrete and possible for you to do!

As a religious Jew, I’m committed to the Torah injunction to not only love my neighbor as myself, but as the Torah goes on to say, “thou shalt love the stranger/the Other: (in Hebrew, ve’ahavta la’ger) and to not oppress them. It is this commitment that made me writeEmbracing Israel/Palestineand that makes me today pray for the well-being of both peoples recognizing that the only real way to be pro-Israel is to also be pro-Palestine, and the only real way to be pro-Palestine is to be pro-Israel, because both peoples well-being is intrinsically tied to the well-being of the other. And this is true for all of us, because our well-being as Americans or whatever your nationality depends on the well-being of everyone else on the planet and the well-being of the planet itself. Affirming this is what it means to be a spiritual progressive (you don’t have to believe in God or any other metaphysical entity)–so if you agree with us,join us!

Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun, chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, rabbi of Beyt Tikkun synagogue-without-walls in Berkeley, Ca. and author of 11 books including Jewish Renewal: A Path to Healing and Transformation, The Left Hand of God: Taking Back our Country from the Religious Right, and Embracing Israel/Palesitne: A Strategy for Middle East Peace (available on Kindle from Amazon.com or in paperback fromwww.tikkun.org/eip. He welcomes the opportunity to work with anyone who joins the Network of Spiritual Progressives at www.spiritualprogressivers.org/join. You can reach him at RabbiLerner.tikkun@gmail.com

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To counter the mainstream media’s focus on the experience of Israeli Jews but mostly ignoring the experience of Palestinians, we present a different picture with this article reprinted (with their permission) from Al Jazeera:  http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/10/14/young-palestinians-sound-off-on-current-unrest-israeli-occupation.html

Young Palestinians sound off on current unrest, Israeli occupation

With talk of third intifada, Palestinians under the age of 30 discuss where they see latest violence heading

October 14, 2015 3:02PM ET

While media headlines focus on the dramatic stabbing attacks by Palestinians and Israelis on one another in recent weeks, thousands of young Palestinians have at the same time taken to the streets of Israel, East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip to demand an end to Israel’s decades-long occupation, protest violence by Israeli forces and settlers, and call for recognition of their human rights.

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A young Palestinian demonstrator with his national flag holds a sling shot en route to clashes with Israeli soldiers in Bethlehem, October 13, 2015. Thomas Coex / AFP / Getty Images

The stabbings are a new element, of course, while protests are an old story — except that today they involve a new generation of Palestinians, those who have grown up in the era of the Oslo peace process and its attendant frustrations and failures. Like the protests of the first intifada of 1987, some of today’s demonstrations are peaceful, but others have transformed into clashes with Israeli forces.

As Palestinian veterans and analysts grapple with the question of whether current events bear the hallmarks of a new intifada, Al Jazeera reached out to a number of Palestinians under the age of 30 throughout the region. We asked them two questions:

(1) Where do you see the current unrest headed?

(2) If these protests and clashes continue, how do you expect Israeli forces, settlers and the Palestinian Authority to respond?

Some of their answers were translated from Arabic, others were answered in English but have been edited for grammar.


Lema Nazeeh

Lema

27-year-old lawyer in Ramallah, West Bank

This popular uprising is spontaneous and who’s leading it is the new generation — mostly university and school students. This time we are taking action in the streets and doubling the resistance everywhere, starting in Jerusalem, to the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinians living in the 1948 territories are also participating in it. The message from the new generation is that Palestine will be free and that we are determined to end the occupation and settler terrorism in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

In order to proceed, we need to create a united committee where the people can organize and lead the movement apart from the political establishment.

Palestinians from all over need to be united in resisting the occupation — demonstrating in Gaza City, Jerusalem, Haifa, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Yaffa and Hebron. As long as the occupation continues, we must keep resisting for a life of freedom and dignity.

Israeli forces and the settlers will continue their violence and terrorism against us, but we the people have a voice, that the Israeli government, Zionist groups, and members of the international community complicit with Israel’s crimes against Palestinians can never silence. Now is not the time to be afraid.


Fadi Salah Al Shaik Yousef

Fadi Salah

28-year-old childhood development professional in Gaza City, Gaza

This popular intifada, which is not organized or run by any authority, is a normal reaction to all the years of injustice, crimes and humiliation perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian people. Considering the large number of Palestinians killed and injured at the hands of Israeli forces, it’s a very normal reaction.

These protests and clashes are occurring because the Palestinian people have lost all hope in their leaders, in humanity even. We’ve found that peaceful solutions are not going to end the occupation — so we have to keep resisting.

People in Gaza have nothing to lose anymore, so we are ready to help the West Bank in any way. We march to the borders with Israel and protest to tell our brothers in the West Bank that we are in solidarity with them and will reject all Israeli attacks against them.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority may try to contain the situation, but they cannot control it. No one can control it. It’s also difficult to predict where it might lead. We’re accustomed to Israel perpetrating crimes and then playing victim. I don’t expect this to change. For its part, the Palestinian Authority must cease all security coordination with the occupier.

How this ends will depend on the people’s will and the level of direct or indirect support we receive from the various Palestinian factions.


Nadine Khoury

Nadine Khoury

16-year-old high school student in Taybeh, West Bank

I’d like to point out that this has not only been happening for a week. I have been living here in Palestine for nearly three and a half years now and I’ve noticed that these inhuman acts are a very common part of Palestinian life (which doesn’t make them any less tragic).

I actually think that the Palestinians are trying to start a third intifada because they are sick and tired of living alongside these people who keep taking their land, murdering their children, and actually having the nerve to try and justify it. However, although I agree that a third uprising may be our only chance of escaping Israeli occupation, I don’t think that now is the best time. Palestinians tend not to think and act together as one, so until they can unite as a whole, I personally don’t think that the intifada should take place. Living in Palestine, I can see the ruthlessness of both sides so, as of right now, I don’t see the situation calming down anytime soon.

If and when these clashes continue, I feel that the Israeli forces and settlers will continue using force, in every way possible, to subdue the idea of a third intifada. Israel just wants to maintain control over the Palestinian people and the limited Palestinian Authority. I know that the Palestinian people will continue to fight passionately for their land, rights and freedom. A Palestinian scarf (hatta) and a rock is nothing compared to a bulletproof vest and a sniper. Unfortunately, it’s an unfair fight and the world is watching it happen.


Omar Daraghmeh

Omar Daraghmeh

27-year-old translator in Tubas, West Bank

The recent violence is a result of the absence of any political horizons between the Palestinians and the Israeli occupation authorities due to the ongoing Israeli (army and settlers) aggression against the Palestinians in general and the desecration of the sacred Al-Aqsa mosque in particular.

The tensions are likely to disappear and calmness will gradually be restored unless the vast and broader majority of the Palestinian population joins the uprising, especially the armed Palestinian gunmen in the refugee camps in the West Bank or in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Israel is expected to wage a war on Gaza while unleashing the settlers and closing in on Jerusalem and the West Bank, and intensifying the arrest campaigns there.

On the other side, the Palestinian Authority will come up with its futile statements, hold some “emergency meetings” and demand an “international protection” for Palestinians while at the same time cracking down on all anti-occupation Palestinian protests.


Tarek Bakri

Bakri

29-year-old engineer and researcher in Jerusalem

Perhaps what happened at Al-Aqsa mosque motivated many others to be involved in the uprising, but I see it bigger than that. It’s about the occupation and it’s policies. At a certain point we believe that there’s one side that is eliminating the other one. Israelis are carrying out some type of slow ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem through instant executions, and spreading fear in order to make Palestinians flee the city. Israel wants Jerusalem to have a Jewish majority.

We can’t remain silent in the face of these daily humiliations. What will happen is that Palestinians will raise the level of the resistance. Meanwhile, settler violence will grow. But Palestinian Authority security forces will remain an observer.


Raya Shamali

Raya Shamali

17-year-old high school student in Arraba, Israel

Tensions between both sides have always been high, and every now and then something triggers it, which makes it more noticeable. The current situation is headed toward worse clashes between Zionists and the Palestinians and between Palestinian citizens in Israel and the government.

What’s happening now, Palestinian youth countering the occupation, is similar to what occurred during the second intifada, during which this generation was raised. Sadly, it’s likely to result in many casualties on both sides and affect people in all walks of life.

As the protests continue, I expect Israeli forces to continue in their repression and racism towards Palestinians. I also expect Israeli settlers to take more action.

It’s hard to say what the Palestinian Authority forces will do. They’ll either try to put an end to what the Israeli forces are doing, which could lead us to war, or repress the protesters so that the situation won’t get any worse.


Mustafa Staiti

Mustafa Staiti

29-year-old film photographer in Jenin, West Bank

For my generation — that was born in the mid-80s during the first uprising and lived through the second one with all of its details — it makes you have better judgment when it comes to what we call an intifada. A new act could force the world to find a final solution for the Palestinians, or end up with another disaster to add to the Palestinian ethnic cleansing. The ones in the streets today are one generation younger than me. They were born in the height of the violence during the second intifada — they are angry, fearless and don’t care about what ever happens in their lives. They have nothing to lose; their lives were always at war.

The Palestinian Authority is unstable because it’s connected to agreements that might fall through, but it might create division or internal violence. Israel will try to take more land and continue using heavy force. The settlers will be the most pleased if the Israeli army invades the West Bank and heads toward the idea of one state of Israel.


Mariam Barghouti

Mariam

22-year-old university student in Ramallah, West Bank

I think there is a massive discrepancy between the ongoing debate abroad about whether this is a third intifada or not and the reality on the ground where this debate seems meaningless. Beyond the labels, Palestinian youth are expressing their disgruntlement with Israeli aggression and the failure of Palestinian leadership to provide a tangible solution for the Palestinian people.

A large portion of the youth on the ground are between the ages of 13 and 27. This is important to note because this is the Oslo generation. This is the generation that didn’t know a reality beyond the apartheid wall or the suppressive tactics of the Palestinian Authority. What we are witnessing is not merely random acts of violence, this frustration has been festering within the Palestinian people for years now, we are slowly imploding. Small acts of protests across the West Bank, rockets from Gaza, confrontations in historic Palestine, all of them come arm in arm. We cannot decontextualize the current situation from the past. Every reaction was preceded by an action, whether it is Israeli aggression escalating, or suppression from the Palestinian Authority. This is not only confrontations towards Israeli aggression, but a message to the Palestinian Authority that uproar will come about if they continue to normalize with the occupation, appeasing Israel through security coordination while simultaneously pretending to speak on behalf of the Palestinians.

This is a crucial time where the youth are bringing matters into their own account. The voices that have been absent from Palestinian-Israeli politics are erupting through the sound of chants, stones, stabbings and whatever other methods are available. There is no telling where the end game is, but I don’t think that’s very important right now. The situation may very well die out with the help of Israel’s proxy the Palestinian Authority; or alternatively it may continue to escalate until we form a leadership from the ground which can begin talking demands. However, the clear message is that for every action there is a reaction, and this is the reaction of the Palestinian youth to failed negotiations and continued Israeli aggression.

As confrontations continue from Palestinian youth, Israeli forces will respond in the only way they know how to respond and that is through violence. It is embedded within their colonial fabric to oppress and disavow any Palestinian resistance. It is an institutionalized tactic and not a reaction to Palestinian confrontation. Settler’s lives are being disrupted by Palestinians, they are no longer feeling comfortable in their colonization and that can result in one of two things, they will either escalate their violence towards Palestinians (as we are currently witnessing), or they will begin to realize there is no benefit from their colonization whether economic or social and it may force them to have feelings of wanting to leave their settlements. The difference between the Palestinian youth and Israeli settlers, is that Palestinian youth do not have any back support, they only have one another. Settlers on the other hand, have the support of the Israeli army and of course the Israeli judicial system, which will not charge or convict them as they continue to perpetuate violence towards Palestinians.

As in for the Palestinian Authority forces, they will not act without commands from the Palestinian Authority leadership. They are currently allowing Palestinian youth to continue in their confrontations with Israeli forces not out of genuine support of the Palestinian people, but because they are well aware with the anger in the streets it can turn towards them. Furthermore, I say “allow” the youth, because the Palestinian Authority still possesses the power to tranquilize the wrath of youth on the streets. The silence from the Palestinian Authority can very well be a method to let the youth exhaust themselves in the streets before trying to pacify the masses as they normally do. What is frightful however is the possibility for the Palestinian Authority to use the spirit of the youth on the ground as a bargaining chip with Israel in order to reinforce its legitimacy in the West Bank as the sole authority able to achieve calm and control the Palestinian masses, and force Israel to return to the negotiations table.

 
tags: Israel/Palestine   
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