Norman G. Finkelstein, Mouin Rabbani, and Jamie Stern-Weiner write: The Palestinians are today more isolated and fragmented than at any point since their initial dispossession in 1948. Key Gulf states have sought out Israel as an ally in their proxy conflict with Iran; Egypt’s current rulers consider Palestine a nuisance and Hamas an enemy; Turkey is otherwise preoccupied; and what’s left of Iraq and Syria have neither the capacity nor inclination to exert themselves on the Palestinians’ behalf. There is “a perception that…Palestinians are on their own,” leading Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki explains, and “so they take matters into their own hands.” It is in this respect hardly coincidental that Palestinians have rallied around what is not only a national symbol but also one that continues to resonate in the Arab and broader Muslim worlds.
To this should be added the increasingly barbaric Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the Gaza Strip, which along with the schism between the Fatah and Hamas movements will soon enter its second decade; unprecedented levels of official demonization of Palestinian citizens of Israel; lengthy hunger strikes by Palestinians detained without charge or trial; and regular killings by the Israeli military and settler militias in the West Bank—the last culminating in the late July arson-murder of 18-month-old Ali Dawabsheh and his parents outside Nablus. It speaks volumes that in the current context the latter factors are mere background noise.
Have the Palestinians finally embarked upon their long-heralded third intifada? That depends upon how one defines the term, and can therefore easily lead to semantic rather than substantive debate. The more pertinent questions concern how sustainable and effective the current revolt is likely to be. [Continue reading…]