The Coming Intifada

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Anyone watching the Middle East and the Occupied Palestinian Territories recently can tell you that anger and rage is bubbling just below the surface. What may not seem apparent is that a new intifada, or uprising, may be right around the corner.

When this happens, western media outlets will scramble to explain how and why we have come to this state. They will likely place the blame on the Palestinians, the victims of Israeli oppression, once again ignoring any and all history or context of the illegal Israeli occupation and its daily horrors.

If some might find this farfetched, we have only to look back at the recent war on Gaza when the western media blamed the victims and realized much later that they had ignored the ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip and Israel’s violation of the ceasefire.

It is important, then, to note now the reasons why a critical mass of discontent is building.

Palestinians have endured dispossession and occupation for over 60 years. Despite this, some segments of Palestinian society have been willing to enter into a peace process with the Israelis on the basis of ending the illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and establishing a Palestinian state.

Of course, these efforts have been in vain. During the post-Oslo peace process period, settlements grew at an astonishing rate, indicating that Israel was interested not in relinquishing the territory that it illegally occupied, but rather cementing its hold and effectively annexing it.

Then there was the (Former U.S. President) George W. Bush era of disengagement and disregard while Israel continued settlement expansion, and built a wall deep inside the West Bank that separated Palestinians from Palestinians.

Israel’s attack on Gaza this past winter was the culmination of failed American attempts to broker peace. With over 1,400 murdered, most of which were civilians, Palestinians were given an additional 1,400 reasons to doubt Israel sought any peaceful agreement. Of course, this war took place without objection from the Bush White House.

Yet, despite all of this, some Palestinians had hoped that a new president would help bring justice to their cause. The world had grown tired of George W. Bush, and just knowing he would finally be replaced gave some the will to live another day.

Sadly, all hope that Palestinians may have had in U.S. President Barack Obama seems to have evaporated. He began by saying some of the right things, but ultimately failed to get Israel to stop settlement expansion in the West Bank. Most recently, he conceded to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on a settlement freeze at the United Nations General Assembly.

This retreat was amplified by another fiasco. Seemingly capitulating to American and Israeli pressure, the Palestinian representatives at the United Nations in Geneva tabled the Goldstone Committee Report that alleged Israel had committed war crimes in Gaza.

Any and all recourse Palestinians had for the bloodbath in Gaza disappeared overnight. For Palestinians, the wounds of that horrific war have been reopened, and they cannot even turn to their own leaders for treatment.

The last intifada was sparked when Ariel Sharon and an entourage of countless armed soldiers violated the sanctity of the Noble Sanctuary. Today, tensions in Jerusalem are rising again as demonstrations against home demolitions continue, and Israel continues to prevent the freedom of movement for worshipers into the holy sites.

So now what? That is the question Palestinians are asking. Their leaders have failed them. The United States and Barack Obama, supposedly an honest broker, have failed them. The international community and the system which is supposed to protect the basic human rights of all people have failed them.

To whom shall they turn?

What is certain is that Palestinians will never concede their legitimate rights. But now that every avenue for achieving those goals has been closed off to them, it seems almost inevitable that another uprising is upon us.

We would be naïve, even culpable, if we dared to ask why.

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