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Jonathan Zausmer

I-3. The third intifada is here. Wake up.

Background

Both the first and second intifada had a clear beginning. Both met with surprise and denial. “Break their bones!” said Rabin, when a new generation of young Palestinians had had enough. The ground began to shake. The second intifada also emerged from behind a smoke screen. While Barak had taken the negotiations for peace further, following Rabin’s assassination, despite disputed issues, Israel and the Palestinian authority were moving forward peace notwithstanding powerful internal opposition within Israel by the far right settler movement and militant opposition within Palestinian society. 

However, it is important to note that an outline for a joint agreement had been laid out including a corridor to Gaza, and a plan for full self-government for Palestine ultimately becoming an independent state. The visit by Ariel Sharon at the Temple Mount on the 28th September 2000 became the incendiary match that blew Oslo and the peace initiative into a full scale uprising by Palestinians led by Marwan Barghouti. It should be mentioned that the latter stated that this uprising had already been planned and it became clear later, that Arafat himself was fully aware of the revolt and supported it politically and financially. 

But the facts are that it was a bloodbath. Many Palestinians died. Israeli soldiers were killed and worse, the indiscriminate killing of Israeli citizens in cities and towns within Israel by Palestinians became a daily event. The Palestinian intifada took the horrors to a degree almost unimagined as children at clubs and elders in aged homes were viscously blown to pieces by Palestinian terrorists who could enter Israel freely as no secure borders existed at that time.

Unlike the first and second intifada, the third intifada (hereafter I-3) has emerged without a clear beginning, without clear leadership and with limited access to a far less vulnerable Israeli population due to the high security barriers and many security features, whether electronic, physical, military, cyber and intelligence based instruments firmly in place. 

I-3

Thus it is no surprise that what started as the “Intifada of singles” as it is termed in Hebrew, now takes a unique form. We either see a fair amount of attacks, often in cities within Israel, by single individuals. And while these are only limited in scale, they create a national sense of insecurity. However, the brunt of I-3 attacks occurs where the weakest link is found: within occupied territory, that is, either on the roads, (which cannot be secured due to the vast complexity of all roads, off-roads and freeways in occupied territory now, many built for the Israeli settler public…) or in settlements where civilian Israelis live permanently. Many of these settlements are fairly far removed from other other urban or small-town locations and are surrounded completely by Palestinian towns and hamlets. A Palestinian attacker can literally walk from his village to the nearest road which happens to be used daily by Palestinians and Israeli settlers, and simply wait for a sitting duck and fire away with an automatic weapon, easily available with weak military and police overview. This can take the form of a single driver on his way to work in Israel, or a family of settlers who blithely ride around thinking all is safe. Individuals and families are being destroyed by ambushes. All is NOT safe. And the tragedy is, that often these vehicles are fully occupied with four or five people within: regular peaceful people who believe in a greater Israel – sometimes there are others, who simply wish to take a scenic drive or a shortcut within the Palestinian territories, despite clear warnings or clear border demarcations in place. I-3 is happening as we speak, with no bells, whistles, UN emergency meetings, without cabinet focus, or Knesset discussions.

Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas), the lame duck Palestinian president, advanced in years, is all but a humpty dumpty (about to fall) who has never been elected, who has little control, who is seen as a quisling of Israel and who is daily losing ownership of the Palestinian cause while Hamas becomes the leading light in Palestinian national leadership and pride. 

The Golden Calf Syndrome.

The incentive of power, pride and religion has become the achilles heel of modern Israel. We now have Knesset members who see a new “Kingdom of David” arising in Judea and Samaria (read occupied territories) and this takes the form of colonization of land that by international law does not belong to the state of Israel; namely Judea and Samaria or, in international terms, the occupied West Bank. Let us be clear here. This area is not Israel. The Israeli presence there militarily had merit as long as Jordan was an enemy. However, this area is not recognized as part of Israel by the international community. 

We need to call the process what it is: colonialism. And while we may say correctly that America, Canada, Australia and other countries were colonized by Europeans in previous centuries, colonialism with its incomparable brutality and cruelty is, in our world today, not okay in any shape or form. There will always be a suppressed population, land theft, oppression, discrimination and identity-denial, in these situations. The further we in Israel go down this road, we will be masters and Palestinians modern-type slaves. There will be discrimination. The land theft is justified by religious and ultra religious-national narratives that have no place in the world today. And if we take this a step further, the growing Haredi population who see themselves as the true believers are sucked into this land theft conveniently because of a lack of property and housing and self inflicted poverty (due to the status of lifetime- religious study above that or work) within the borders of Israel, exorbitant property prices in this small land, and by incentives provided through taxation of the population at large who thus by default become accomplices in this destructive process. 

I-3 is here. Is anyone surprised?

About the Author
Originally from South Africa, Jonathan made aliya in the seventies, and lived and worked on a kibbutz for several years. He has a graduate degree in business from Boston University and is a managing partner of an Israeli based business. He was a co-founder of the Forum Tzora peace action group and participates in the Geneva Initiative workshops. He is the author of the book “Valley of Heaven and Earth”.
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