The effectiveness of Israel’s iron fist

Larry Derfner writes: Those who oppose Israel’s iron fist tactics against violent Palestinian resistance argue, as a rule, that it’s impractical, it won’t work, you can’t repress a nation forever, and the only solution is to end the injustice that provokes the violence. But this is a sentimental view that comes, I think, from a need to believe that justice always wins in the end. The fact is that Israeli iron fist tactics have worked pretty damn well in keeping the Palestinians down over the last decade, and there’s a very strong chance that the tactics Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laid out Tuesday night – overwhelming armed force, house demolitions, draconian punishments for rioters and their parents, and more – will work again this time.

The iron fist put down the Second Intifada in 2004/5, and Israel has enjoyed remarkable quiet from the West Bank since then, also from East Jerusalem until this summer. A crucial difference between the first two intifadas and the current violence is that those earlier upheavals were organized; this one isn’t, which makes it much easier for Israel to overcome.

The iron fist has also worked in Gaza since Operation Cast Lead nearly six years ago. Israel has had to “mow the lawn” twice more since then, most recently over the summer, but otherwise the Palestinians in the Strip have been largely harmless in their cage.

What are the chances that this time around, Palestinian resistance will force Israel to begin reversing course, with an eye toward ending the occupation? I think they’re extremely slim. Even though it’s true that the First Intifada led to the Oslo Accords and the Second Intifada led to the disengagement from Gaza, those were different times in a different Israel. [Continue reading…]

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1 thought on “The effectiveness of Israel’s iron fist

  1. hquain

    I’m surprised that in his list of arguments against what he calls the ‘iron fist’, Derfner does not include the most obvious: it has made the Israelis into thugs. And not just thugs-of-a-wartime-moment but principled believers.

    I’m sure that few would have predicted in 1946 that the dream of Zion would transmute into the self-besotted brutality that pervades everything the Israelis do today. They have burned down their own house to enlarge it.

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