Intifada Shmintifada, What’s in a Name?

As Israel reels from yet another horrific light rail terrorist attack that claimed the life of a Druze border policeman  – another incident at the Gush Etzion junction is still under investigation as a possible “traffic accident” – pundits from the right and the left are already referring to the spike in violence as an “Intifada” or “silent Intifada.”

On the right, Arutz-7 has been sounding alarm bells for some time, referring to every rock-throwing attack and name-calling event as clear evidence of a so-called, Intifada. On the left, Ha’aretz is equally adamant that an Intifada is already upon us.  Both papers have clear agendas. Arutz-7 believes that if it raises the anxiety level and cries wolf, the government will be obliged to respond with greater force to quell the unrest. By contrast, Ha’aretz and its radical friends on the left want Israel to raise the white flag, capitulate to terror and withdraw from every square millimeter of territory captured during the Six-Day War.

First, a point on terminology. I don’t mind interspersing my Hebrew with a sprinkling of Arabic. It gives it an oriental flavor that at times better expresses the point that’s being conveyed much the same way that a smattering of Yiddish does. But I detest the word “Intifada,” which loosely translates to “shaking off” or “uprising.” This is the word that the enemy uses to express admiringly, subversive rebellion against Israel and there is no need to use terminology employed by the enemy. I prefer using the term “criminal hooliganism” because that precisely describes the nature of the recent disturbances. Granted, “Intifada” has a catchier ring to it but when one adopts the enemy’s verbiage, it becomes a slippery slope.

Consider the case of the land liberated by Israel from Jordan during the Six-Day War. Judea & Samaria morphs into the “West Bank” which then changes into “Occupied Territories” and finally transforms into the ultimate skewed abomination, “Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

As for the actual unrest, granted there has been an uptick in violent incidents since the brutal kidnapping and murder of an Arab youth this past summer. But this is nothing new. Violence in this neck of the woods comes with the territory and experience has taught us that it ebbs and flows. But the recent spike can in no way be compared with either the first or second Arab disturbances.

The first “Intifada” was marked by mass violent protests throughout Judea/Samaria, numerous stabbings and finally, internecine murder where Arab set upon Arab for suspected “collaboration.” The second “Intifada” was exceedingly more violent and marked by suicide bombings and shootings. Most of the violence was organized or approved by Arafat or his delegates.

The violence that we are experiencing today, in terms of both quantity and quality, in no way, shape or form resembles either of the two previous outbreaks. The violence is more or less limited to certain Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem and involves not hundreds but perhaps dozens consisting of teens, the unemployed and perhaps a smattering of those on the Hamas or PA payroll. Yes, we’ve witnessed at least two horrific car attacks on the light rail (and possibly another near Gush Etzion) but car attacks of this nature are nothing new and they’ve been used in the past during times of relative calm. As for the spike in rock-throwing incidents, this is not a new phenomenon and the security forces and lawmakers are effectively dealing with.

For those of you, who still remain skeptical, be mindful of the fact that rock-throwing incidents on Route 443 have gone down by 80% and will continue to drop due to the extraordinary efforts of the security forces. Moreover, bills have been introduced in the Knesset that raise penalties for rock-throwing to 20 years and strip parents of child allowances should a member of the family be found guilty of rock-throwing. This should operate as an effective deterrent for some. For those still undeterred, the Route 443 experience has taught us that with patience and determination, rock-throwing is in most cases, a preventable crime.

So let’s not become panic-stricken and sound needless alarm bells every time there’s an incident. That’s not to say that we should be complacent and accept it. On the contrary, the violence needs to be addressed with resoluteness and effective legislation but we could do without the hysteria. It helps no one and merely serves to sap morale and aid the enemy.

About the Author
Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor. He has authored several articles covering political and military issues concerning Israel, the United States and the Mideast at large.