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Where are they going?

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on March 11, 2008


Bethlehem, West Bank – Fadi al-Amour and his friends – high school seniors – spent more time last week on the street than in class. Every day, they marched on Rachel’s Tomb, guarded by Israeli soldiers, and, along with hundreds of other young Palestinians, pelted the nearest symbol of Israeli power with rocks and Molotov cocktails.

“We were implementing what our leaders in the prisons tell us we should be doing. Even Marwan Barghouthi has warned that this is where we’re going: the third intifada,” says Mr. Amour, mentioning the Fatah figure jailed by Israel in 2002 for his role in the last intifada, which lasted from 2000 to 2004.

From Gaza rocket strikes and West Bank riots to a deadly shooting inside Jerusalem late last week, many Palestinians are saying – or perhaps hoping – that these incidents of violence will spark a new, much broader conflict with Israel.

Those who are encouraging a further escalation say it’s overdue. Others, including many who remember the misery of past intifadas, worry that this will just drag the Palestinian cause down a dead-end street.

Intifada

“There might be an escalation in the coming weeks and months, and an escalation has already been going on in Gaza in recent weeks and months,” says Ali Jarbawi, a political scientist at Birzeit University, near Ramallah.

But, he says, there might be a danger in rushing to label the events of the last few weeks as the start of another intifada. “People are feeling a sense of despair. They’re frustrated by the [new Israeli-Palestinian negotiations] leading nowhere, and [by] the internal situation between Hamas and Fatah,” he says. “But I don’t see that translating into a concrete, continuous event, which I think is something that defines an intifada. Let’s wait and see.”

Escalation?!! Ok. My wife just said: “I didn’t know the Second Intifada had ended…?!” I have to agree with her. It sounds a bit sensationalist to start talking about a Third Intifada, when the Second is still going on. But then, media has a big part in the conflict’s more virulent elements.

JERUSALEM — The government of Israel said Sunday that it had approved the construction of hundreds of homes in a West Bank settlement north of Jerusalem, a move that could further complicate a peace effort already hobbled by violence.

Givat Zeev settlement

The announcement slightly eased pressure on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert from the right wing in his government, particularly after a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem fatally shot eight students, most of them teenagers, at a prestigious Jewish seminary in western Jerusalem on Thursday.

But the move occurred days before an American envoy, Lt. Gen. William M. Fraser III, was expected to arrive in the region for the first three-party meeting with Israelis and Palestinians on fulfillment of obligations under the 2003 peace plan called the road map.

The plan calls for the Palestinians to halt all violence and for the Israelis to cease all settlement construction, including building meant to accommodate “natural growth.”

Dumb move, Olmert, dumb move. However, being the Prime Minister of Israel cannot be easy. Trying to please both the Right and the Left and the Palestinians. But if he can get the Extremist Settlers to stop their “out-posting”. The word “out-post” is some thing you have in war, along the enemy border, to keep an eye on them – it’s no place to bring your wives and children. Why not just call it un-authorized settlement? That at least would be true.

I am sure all of this is a journalist’s wet dream. Blood, gore, conflict and violence sell news papers and videos, raise the ratings and make a lot of people, including the journalists, rich. So of course it all has to be described as colorful as possible.

Why is it that media is not reporting about the regular Palestinians, Arabs and Israelis, who all go about their lives in a normal fashion. Sure building Settlements is a dumb and illegal idea, but at the same time it creates jobs – the two guys, in the picture of Givat Zeev, are Arabs, who feed their families building those Settlements. Would they have the same opportunity in Palestine? I am not too sure about that. So, every coin has two sides, which one you see is just as much up to you as to chance.

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