FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

In the Making

by RAMZY BAROUD

At a recent conference I was repeatedly asked about the prospects for a third Palestinian uprising, or Intifada. The question, although seemingly uncomplicated, is both loaded and important, and cannot be answered in a mere two minutes or less.

A ‘third Intifada’ would imply that the second has already ended. But has it? Or did it simply lose momentum, sense of focus and direction, or were its energies squandered – as a popular uprising – on factional disputes and internal division?

Some of its initial leaders are no longer involved, and a cohesive uprising cannot exist if too many of its players have switched sides, changed roles, or are absent altogether. To approach this subject more practically, the first Intifada in 1987 must be thoroughly scrutinized.

Palestinian collective revolts are not a singular response to singular problems caused by outsiders, for example the British mandate, Zionist colonial designs, Israeli occupation, and so on. What is often missed are the internal factors which anger the Palestinian masses, such as their leadership’s failures, divisions, u-turns, corruption, nepotism, and so on.

The 1987 uprising was consistent with this model, although it certainly inspired a paradigm shift. On one hand, it was a collective cry for justice and an earnest attempt at ending an Israeli occupation of Palestinian land occupied in 1967. But it also represented the instinctive desire to reclaim the Palestinian struggle, which had for long been managed from abroad: Jordan, Lebanon, then, more or less, Tunisia.

There was a permeating awareness among Palestinians in the occupied territories that their plight had turned into power struggles between various factions based in various Arab capitals, and that their disputes were hardly ideological, but more pertinent to issues of control, money and status.

The first uprising quickly formulated its own ideas, mechanisms and symbols, all reflecting the unity of purpose among Palestinians. In fact the overt emphasis on “national unity” in the Intifada’s symbols and slogans was a clear sign of Palestinian denunciation of disunity and factionalism.

Although the Israeli response to the first Intifada was lethal, it hardly compares to the more violent response to the second uprising of 2000. The Israeli government wanted to crush the revolt before it developed a rhythm and turned into a long-term, popular commitment. Israel also operated with the erroneous assumption that the uprising was manufactured by the late Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader, Yasser Arafat, to extract political concessions.

The fact is both Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) – assembled following the 1993 Oslo Accords as an alternative to the all encompassing PLO – were caught by complete surprise when Palestinians took to the streets in defiance, not just against the Israeli occupation, but also the wavering attitudes and rampant corruption that pervaded their own leadership.

If we must accept that the second Intifada is over, or was ended by the infighting between Fatah and Hamas, then an examination of its outcomes is necessary. Although the second Intifada has not brought an end to the Israeli occupation, it certainly has made a serious impact on the political institutions in Palestine. It has given rise to another leadership, that of Hamas, and forced a major rethink within the once leading movement, Fatah.

The second uprising greatly undermined the PA, and therefore the Oslo accords that brought it into existence, highlighting the need for alternative – and truly representative – political institutions, such as a revived version of the PLO.

Indeed, every major Palestinian revolt in the past has resulted in new, unpredictable realities, and despite all attempts, the status quo that defined the pre-revolt periods is often negligible afterwards. New faces, names, priorities, slogans and symbols are often introduced to the mix, although still defined by an everlasting desire for justice, meaningful peace and freedom.

Israel’s methods for subduing Palestinians and crushing uprisings have also produced new realities, thresholds and relationships. Methods such as huge walls, new settlements and weapons of mass suppression often complicate the already painful existence of Palestinians living under occupation and result in more revolts.

The first Intifada brought the struggle home, and introduced local leaderships, who competed with the old guard on all fronts, including the right of articulating Palestinian demands and aspirations. The second Intifada saw the Oslo accord and its adjoining ‘culture of peace’ as a worthless process that failed to improve the dreadful reality on the ground – although it did manage to empower a specific class of Palestinians financially as well as politically.

Now Palestinians find themselves in a transition that has an uncertain outcome. There are more questions than answers: where will the Fatah-Hamas clash lead? Will Fatah carry on while maintaining its current structure? For how long? Will Palestinians continue to adhere to the once uncontested demand for a two-state solution? And how credible is that formula under the current circumstances, where a clear cut separation is complicated if not totally unfeasible? How will the geopolitical split between the West Bank and Gaza play out in coming years?

Palestinian uprisings are often a collective response to hard questions. The chances are the next Intifada – as surely there will always be one as long as the occupation continues – will find again a popular rejection of the ills which have afflicted the Palestinian cause, It would once again reassert the relevance, if not the leading role of the Palestinian people as the real owners of their fate, and guards of their own struggle.

RAMZY BAROUD is an author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London).

 

 

 

 

Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London). His website is: ramzybaroud.net

Weekend Edition
April 29-31, 2016
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Vijay Prashad
Political Violence in Honduras
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Paul Krane
Where Gun Control Ought to Start: Disarming the Police
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Pat Williams
FDR in Montana
Dave Marsh
Every Day I Read the Book
David Rosen
Job Satisfaction Under Perpetual Stagnation
John Feffer
Big Oil isn’t Going Down Without a Fight
Murray Dobbin
The Canadian / Saudi Arms Deal: More Than Meets the Eye?
Gary Engler
The Devil Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Is Washington Preparing for War Against Russia
Manuel E. Yepe
The Big Lies and the Small Lies
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Robert Fantina
Vice Presidents, Candidates and History
Mel Gurtov
Sanctions and Defiance in North Korea
Howard Lisnoff
Still the Litmus Test of Worth
Dean Baker
Big Business and the Overtime Rule: Irrational Complaints
Ulrich Heyden
Crimea as a Paradise for High-Class Tourism?
Ramzy Baroud
Did the Arabs Betray Palestine? – A Schism between the Ruling Classes and the Wider Society
Halyna Mokrushyna
The War on Ukrainian Scientists
Joseph Natoli
Who’s the Better Neoliberal?
Ron Jacobs
The Battle at Big Brown: Joe Allen’s The Package King
Wahid Azal
Class Struggle and Westoxication in Pahlavi Iran: a Review of the Iranian Series ‘Shahrzad’
Alice Donovan
Cyberwarfare: Challenge of Tomorrow
David Crisp
After All These Years, Newspapers Still Needed
Graham Peebles
Hungry and Frightened: Famine in Ethiopia 2016
Robert Koehler
Opening the Closed Political Culture
Missy Comley Beattie
Waves of Nostalgia
Thomas Knapp
The Problem with Donald Trump’s Version of “America First”
Jeffrey St. Clair
Groove on the Tracks: the Magic Left Hand of Red Garland
Ben Debney
Kush Zombies: QELD’s Hat Tip to Old School Hip Hop
Charles R. Larson
Moby Dick on Steroids?
April 28, 2016
Miguel A. Cruz Díaz
Puerto Rico: a Junta By Any Other Name
Alfredo Lopez
Where the Bern is Fizzling: Why Sanders Can’t Win the Support of People of Color
Peter Linebaugh
The Commons and the Centennial of the Easter Rising
Dan Arel
What Next? Can the #Movement4Bernie Accomplish Anything?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail