Wednesday, March 6, 2013

From Intifada to Intifada

Here is an excerpt of my latest in Today's Zaman (4 March 2013):

Earlier last week, the Israeli media was filled with two contrasting scenarios: one of children and adults dressed up in colorful costumes, celebrating the Jewish holiday of Purim, and the other, of Palestinian protesters clashing with the Israeli military, as news came in of the death of Palestinian prisoner Arafat Jaradat.

While the news programs were filled with members of the Israeli security establishment predicting whether or not Israel was in the face of another Intifada, a Palestinian uprising, perhaps what was needed was a sociologist to explain how most Israelis cannot see the dichotomy between a people in celebration versus one dealing with the daily struggles of occupation, now for over 45 years.

The first Intifada broke out in December 1987 and took most Israelis by surprise. Then, Israel was a much different Israel. Almost 40 years had passed since the Israeli state was established, and 20 years since they had occupied the Palestinian territories. For better or worse, a hierarchy had been set in place where Palestinians were used as cheap labor, and as a result many Israelis and Palestinians had daily relations. Yes, the Palestinians faced discrimination and were denied the right to political representation; however, they also traveled to Tel Aviv and filled the beaches on weekends, and many Israeli Jews filled the markets in the West Bank. However, this ended with the Intifada, which introduced the first stages of separation.

Parallel to the first Intifada, Israeli society was still recovering over the first Lebanon War, a war which showed them that they too were not so innocent; many Israelis declared this a “choice” war and blamed their leaders for what became Israel's Vietnam. If this was not enough, with Israeli archives slowly opening up, such works as Benny Morris' “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem” came to light. These works, authored by a group tagged the “New Historians,” challenged the Israeli state's ethos of defense and led to debates in the society about what really happened in 1948.

To continue reading, here is the link

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