[News] Reclaiming Palestine: How Israeli Media Misread the Intifada

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Dec 3 10:34:19 EST 2015


December 3, 2015


  Reclaiming Palestine: How Israeli Media Misread the Intifada
  <http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/12/03/reclaiming-palestine-how-israeli-media-misread-the-intifada/>

by Ramzy Baroud <http://www.counterpunch.org/author/ramzy-baroud/>

*http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/12/03/reclaiming-palestine-how-israeli-media-misread-the-intifada/*

Israeli commentators, Yaron Friedman, of “Ynet News” and Haviv Rettig 
Gur, of the “Times of Israel” are clueless about the driving force 
behind the Palestinian mobilization and collective struggle. In two 
recent articles, and with unmistakable conceit, they attempted to 
highlight what they perceive as the failure of the current Palestinian 
uprising, or ‘Intifada’.

Gur argues that ‘the terrorism’ of the Palestinians is not a surge of 
opposition to Israel but a “howl against the pervasive sense that 
resistance has failed”. He reduces the Intifada to the mere act of 
alleged stabbing of Israelis, and points out to the painful truth that 
the Palestinian Authority ‘elites’ are paying lip service to the 
‘martyrs’, while “simultaneously acting with determination on the ground 
to disrupt and stop attacks”.

In his long-winded article, “Losing Palestine”, Gur essentially claims 
that the current struggle against Occupation stems mostly from internet 
fervor and is more a deceleration of defeat than a strategy for victory, 
and that no Palestinian leader dares to be the first to accept this.

Friedman, on the other hand, describes the ‘knife Intifada’ as a ‘fire 
without coal’; that the “insane actions of the stabbers” is designed to 
ignite religious fervor, ultimately aimed at blaming the Jews.

Those who launched the Intifada “have no real internal or external 
support (financial or with weapons) and it broke out at a time when the 
nightmare of all the Arab world’s leaders is the social protests turning 
into anarchy,” he wrote.

There is little sense in arguing against the unsympathetic approach 
Zionist commentators use to describe Palestinians or their insistence on 
seeing Palestinian collective action, violent or otherwise, as an act of 
‘terror’; on their refusal to see any context behind Palestinian anger 
or on how they inject a religious narrative at every turn, and lob 
‘anti-Semitic’ accusations unfairly, whenever they see fit.

But what is particularly interesting about the Israeli take on the 
Palestinian Intifada, as presented by Friedman, Gur and others in the 
media, including from within the Israeli political establishment, is the 
attempt to display an exaggerated sense of confidence, that unlike other 
uprisings, this one is a farce.

In fact, the Israelis are certain that the uprising is likely to deflate 
once the limited tools at its disposal are contained. This supposition 
has led Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotovely, to meet with 
representatives of YouTube and Google “to discuss ways to cooperate in 
what she calls the fight against ‘inciting violence and terrorism’,” 
reported MEMO, citing Israeli daily, ‘Maariv’.

This hasty self-assurance among Israeli state officials and media is 
predicated on several suppositions:

First, while the PA has not yet moved to take part in crushing the 
Intifada, it has done its utmost to thwart the people’s effort at 
mobilizing Palestinians beyond the limited confines of the ruling Fatah 
faction and its worthless promises of peace and statehood.

The PA knows well that if the Intifada escalates beyond its current 
scale, it could undermine – if not entirely challenge – the PA itself, 
which has served for many years as a line of defense for the Israeli 
Occupation. Thanks to the ‘security coordination’ between the Israeli 
army and the PA, Palestinian resistance in the West Bank has, until 
recently, been largely contained.

Second, Hamas, although it has openly called for an escalation of 
protests against Israel, is swamped in its own problems. The siege on 
Gaza, tightened further with the closure of the Rafah border and the 
desperate need to rebuild what successive Israeli wars have destroyed, 
makes it difficult for Hamas to take part in any effort that could open 
up another war front with Israel.

One must recall that the Israeli war on Gaza in the summer of 2014 was, 
itself, an Israeli attempt at redrawing the battle lines. At that time, 
a momentum for an Intifada was taking shape in the West Bank following 
an increase in Israeli army and settler violence against Palestinians. 
The war on Gaza managed to change the narrative of that budding conflict 
into an Israeli war aimed at defending its own borders, as Israeli 
hasbara dictated. Israel is now relying on the assumption that Hamas 
would avoid, at least for now, a repeat of that scenario which cost 
Palestinians over 2,200 lives and thousands of wounded and maimed, let 
alone the massive destruction of the already impoverished Strip.

Third, Arabs are consumed with their own regional fights, whether for 
political or sectarian domination. Almost every Arab country is somehow, 
either fully or partially, involved or is affected by the various wars 
and conflicts under way in Syria, Libya, Egypt’s Sinai, Iraq and Yemen. 
The supposedly successful Tunisian model is suffering its own fallout, 
too, from militant violence, whether homegrown or that which spills over 
from violent borders.

Previous intifadas succeeded, or so goes the Israeli logic, because of 
Arab backing. But the most that Arabs have done is to pay lip service 
and nothing more. In fact, if the PA itself is keen on spoiling popular 
Palestinian initiatives, little can be expected of the Arabs, who are 
busy fighting one another.

However, the Israeli argument is, as has always been the case, 
narrow-minded in its view of history, or it conveniently applies history 
to fit whatever political argument Israeli officials or mouthpieces deem 
handy. Just a few weeks ago, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, 
absolved the Nazis from the idea behind the Holocaust and pinned the 
blame on the Palestinian Mufti instead.

Previous intifadas, but more importantly the 1987 ‘Intifada of the 
stones’, was not constructed as a strategy for liberation, but was a 
spontaneous reaction to a series of Israeli provocations, and the 
adjacent failure of the Palestinian leadership, all positioned within 
the larger context of the ongoing Israeli occupation.

Palestinians do not revolt when ‘the time is right’ for them to do so, 
but whenever their collective suffering has culminated to the point that 
they cannot be silenced anymore.

Those, whether Israeli or even Palestinian intellectuals, who opine 
about the need for the intifada to do this or that, change directions or 
tactics, stop altogether or move forward, are simply unable to 
understand that the momentum of a collective struggle cannot be dictated 
from above.

This is not to argue that a grassroots, genuine Palestinian leadership 
that operates outside the confines of fatalism and defeat as 
demonstrated by the PA is not a necessary step needed to galvanize the 
popular efforts. But that is a decision to be taken by the youth 
themselves, and its timing and nature should be determined based on 
their own reckoning.

The Israelis are counting on their shoot to kill policy. The Palestinian 
leadership is waiting for the anger to fizzle out before resuming its 
endless quest for a frivolous peace process and financial handouts. The 
Intifada itself, however, operates on the basis of an entirely different 
arithmetic: a collective spirit that can neither be intimidated by 
violence nor procured by funds.

In fact this is precisely why the Intifada started in the first place 
and, as long as the factors that led to its inception remain in place, 
it, too, is likely to continue and escalate, not for the sake of 
liberating Palestine through some magic formula, but for the urgent need 
to regain national initiative, redefine priorities and a new sense of 
collective, as Palestinian first and foremost.

/*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/

-- 
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