While many Israelis are surprised at the burst of Al-Aqsa Intifada, my students in the Far East accepted the news as humdrum. “Every year or two, you start a sort of gang-fight with your neighbors. The last round terminated in October 2014 — so why should there not be a new round now?”
They are right. The reason is that, in contrast with what some hyper-patriotic Israeli experts suggest, the cause of the current escalation is similar to all its predecessors: Between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River live some 10 million people of which six millions are Jews — who own 95% of the land — and four millions are Palestinians, who gain partial control over 5% of the territory, mainly refugee camps. This extremely unjust division, even before we mention gloomy historical events such as the Nakba, wherein more than a half a million Palestinians were deported and lost all of their possessions, or the on-going never-ending confiscation of land in the West Bank in order to build more and more Jewish settlements (but not even one Arab village), is a good enough reason to revolt.
So the Palestinians revolt. To say that they do it in high-class — one cannot. They are often brutal and certainly they lack a couple of manners — but in the Middle East, one should not expect to find European niceties, as the Be’er-Sheva lynch has proven.
Not only the reason for the new intifada is clear, but also the solution is obvious. As Jews and Arabs cannot coexist in peace, an act of separation is needed, one that would give 40% of the people more than 5% of the land. Obviously, Israel is unwilling to go for that. In the name of the Lord, security and real estate, we delude ourselves to think that colonialism a la 19th century can still work. It cannot. The price that we pay for the experiment is enormous. We lose not only human life (seven Jewish corpses were counted so far in the current round) but also a chance to develop economically and become a normal country — one that does not deter investors or scare away tourists; one that does not allocate a quarter of the national budget to the military; one that understands that biblical fables are not a reasonable recipe for governmental polices. The choice is clear: land or war. Obviously, we go for the second option.
Personally, I don’t enjoy living in a war zone. I don’t like the idea that a Palestinian who got tired of years of occupation would lose his manners and stab me in the back. I also dislike the messianic character of Jewish-Israeli society — where people like me, who refuse to sacrifice their lives so that settlers can enjoy subsidized villas, are boycotted — so I left the country. I promise to be back if and when Israel gets back to its senses.