Next, Palestine

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Earlier today at this site, Seham likened Palestine to Libya, as opposed to Egypt, because in Libya nonviolent protests that would overthrow the regime have been met with violent crackdowns. And Israel has so far crushed nonviolent protest in the West Bank. Will this trend continue as the cell-phone revolutions continue? Will the media finally pay attention to Bil’in’s weekly protests in the West Bank? Or will Israel continue to sew up the revolutionary feeling on the Arab street?

Michael Omer-Man offers a hopeful view of liberation in this piece at +972/JPost, envisioning an end to occupation. I wonder why we can’t read this kind of analysis in the U.S. press, in particular this line: “These largely non-violent tactics have shattered the framework the world once viewed Palestinians through – terrorism.” The U.S. has not changed this framework, and it continues to license Israeli aggression. Which sadly suggests that the next Palestinian intifada will look like the last one. Israel is already killing a lot of nonviolent demonstrators (like American Furkan Dogan), and maiming others (like American Emily Henochowicz) and getting away with it completely. (h/t Blankfort)

The popular uprisings and ensuing overthrow of dictators in Tunisia and Egypt were about self-determination (not nationalistic), ending violent oppression and demands for personal, political and economic freedoms….

These largely non-violent tactics have shattered the framework the world once viewed Palestinians through – terrorism. Protests in Bil’in, Budrous, Ni’ilin and Nebi Saleh have in many ways won the world’s empathy. However imperfectly, to the outside world, these movements engender the non-violent, civil disobedience, “We will overcome” ideologies of Martin Luther Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and even Natan Sharansky that are idolized in the West. Protest leaders in the West Bank draw diplomatic and moral support from Israel’s strongest allies. Their participants and leaders’ arrests are condemned and the demonstrations themselves declared legitimate resistance by freedom-loving countries otherwise sympathetic to Israel’s positions.

Now imagine what would happen if overnight, as happened in Egypt, those movements grew from the hundreds that demonstrate every Friday into tens of thousands of Palestinians overwhelming every checkpoint in the West Bank, not to mention if East Jerusalem’s Palestinian population brought the same tactics into Israel’s capital.

The world has changed since the First Intifada. Yitzhak Rabin’s “break their bones” tactics would not work on a large scale in the 21st century…

The IDF is neither equipped nor prepared to handle massive demonstrations in a way that doesn’t bring immediate condemnation and action against Israel from even its staunchest allies. The first (and inevitable) death that takes place would be captured simultaneously on three different cell phone cameras and uploaded to YouTube within an hour, at which point Al Jazeera, the BBC and (a few days later) CNN would rebroadcast the ugly face of an occupation fighting for its survival into living rooms worldwide. With the Western public confronted by images of suppressive state violence on the evening news, combined with Israel’s already weakened international stature vis-à-vis the Palestinians, the consequences of an IDF response to an Egypt-like uprising would be completely untenable for Israel and the occupation.

Already having embraced non-violent Arab uprisings against illegitimate and oppressive rule, the world would have no option but to support the Palestinian street’s immediate demands to end the occupation should such a scenario play out.

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