Uri Avnery raises the question that’s on everybody’s lips. Will the current turmoil in the West Bank continue to escalate? Is Netanyahu trying to foment that escalation? Is it all timed to strategically coincide with the Obama visit? These questions are difficult to answer, but, as Avnery points out, on one point we can be clear: while the Palestinian resistance is currently non-violent it cannot remain so for ever.
The First Intifada began non-violently. This is often forgotten. Ongoing imprisonments and aggression from the IDF eventually provoked a violent reaction from the Palestinians and hence the whole event is remembered as a virtual war. At the moment the Palestinian resistance is again largely made up of non-violent protests, hunger-strikes, and the world-wide BDS campaign. But continued provocations will eventually take their toll, after which the spin doctors will depict the uprising as an unprovoked explosion of Arab aggression!
Will Obama be able to leverage any positive influence in this process? It is doubtful, but while the influence of the US recedes into the background, the partisan support from the surrounding Arab nations and from the rest of the world is on the increase!
The Third Intifada?
by Uri Avnery
IS THIS the third intifada? This question was raised this week by a number of Israeli security experts. And not only by them – their Palestinian colleagues were almost as perplexed.
All over the West Bank, Palestinian youth threw stones at Israeli soldiers. All the 3500 Palestinians in Israeli prisons took part in a three-day hunger strike.
The immediate reason was the death of a young Palestinian man during interrogation by the Shin Bet. The autopsy showed no reason for the death. It was no heart attack, as first (and automatically) claimed by Israeli officials and their stooges, the so-called “military correspondents”. So was it torture, as practically all Palestinians believe?
Then there were the four prisoners on a hunger strike which has already lasted 150 days (mitigated by infusions). Since almost every Palestinian family has now – or had in the past – at least one member in prison, this generates much excitement.
So is this IT?
THE UNCERTAINTY of security officials stems from the fact that both the first and the second intifada broke out in an unexpected way. Both the Israeli and the Palestinian leaderships were taken by surprise.
The Israeli surprise was especially – well, surprising. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip were, and still are, full of Israeli informers. Decades of occupation have allowed the Security Service to recruit thousands of them by bribery or blackmail. So how did they fail to know?
The Palestinian leadership, then in Tunis, was equally in the dark. It took Yasser Arafat several days to realize what was happening and laud the “Stone Children”.
The reason for the surprise was that both intifadas were completely spontaneous. No one planned them. Because of this, no informer could warn his handlers.
The trigger for the first one was a road accident. In December 1987, an Israeli driver killed several Palestinian workers near Gaza. All hell broke loose. The second was triggered by a deliberate Israeli provocation after the failure of the 2000 Camp David conference.
The Israeli army was quite unprepared for the First Intifada. Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin famously exclaimed “Break their bones!” which some commanders took literally and carried out faithfully. A lot of arms and legs were broken with rifle butts.
Though the second intifada was also unexpected, this time the army was prepared for any event. Troops were trained in advance. No bones were broken this time. Instead, sharpshooters were placed near unit commanding officers. When a non-violent demonstration approached, the officer pointed out the ringleader, and the sharpshooter killed him. Very soon the non-violent uprising turned into a very violent one.
I don’t know what the army plans for the third intifada. But one can be certain that even if it starts as a non-violent mass protest, it will not stay so for long.
TWO WEEKS ago, the Israeli Channel 10 showed a documentary about Ariel Sharon’s manipulation of the Second Intifada.
It started when Prime Minister Ehud Barak allowed Opposition Chief Sharon to visit the Temple Mount, accompanied by hundreds of policemen. Since Sharon was a pork-eating atheist, there was no religious motive for the visit. It was a provocation, pure and simple.
When Sharon approached the Muslim shrines, he was greeted with stones. The police killed the stone-throwers with live ammunition. And lo and behold, the Second Intifada was on the way.
Arafat in far-away Tunis had nothing to do with it. But once the intifada had started, he embraced it. The local Fatah cadres took command.
Soon after, Sharon came to power. He did everything possible to stoke the fires. In the documentary, his closest assistants were interviewed at length and disclosed that Sharon did this quite deliberately.
His aim was to cause a general uprising, in order to give him a legitimate reason for re-conquering the West Bank, after parts of it were turned over to the Palestinian authority in the Oslo agreements. And indeed, a large number of suicide attacks and other outrages provided the necessary national and international legitimization for Operation Defensive Shield, in which Israeli troops re-entered all West Bank towns and spread death and destruction. In particular, the Palestinian Authority’s offices were systematically ransacked, including the Education and Social Services ministries. Arafat was surrounded and isolated in the Ramallah Mukata’ah (“Compound”), and kept a virtual prisoners for years, till his murder.
In the film, the advisors readily admitted that Sharon did not even contemplate a political initiative to end the intifada – his sole aim was to vanquish the Palestinian resistance by brute force. During this intifada 4944 Palestinians were killed, as against 1011 Israelis. (In the preceding intifada, 1593 Palestinians and 84 Israelis found their death.)
Israelis believe that Sharon’s brutal methods were a great success. The Second Intifada sputtered out.
WILL THERE be a Third Intifada? If so, when? Has it already begun or were the recent events only a kind of general rehearsal?
No one knows, least of all our security forces. There is no reliable information from the agents. Again, everything is spontaneous.
One thing is certain: Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat’s heir, is very much afraid of it. He waited for a few days, and then, once he was sure that this was not a general uprising, he ordered his American-trained police forces to intervene and put an end to the demonstrations.
More than that, he publicly condemned the outbreaks and accused Binyamin Netanyahu of deliberately fomenting them.
One of the causes for this suspicion was that on Friday the Israeli police did not prevent young Palestinians from reaching the Temple Mount (“Haram al-Sharif”), as they do frequently when there is the slightest suspicion of coming unrest.
I put the question to a circle of friends: Assuming for a moment that Abbas is right, what might have been Netanyahu’s motive?
One answered: He is afraid that Barak Obama will, in his upcoming visit to Jerusalem, demand the resumption of the “peace process”. Netanyahu will tell him that, in view of the new intifada, that is impossible.
Another volunteered: Netanyahu will tell the President that Abbas has lost his authority and therefore is not a viable partner.
Yet another: Netanyahu will tell the Israeli public that we have an emergency at hand, so we need to set up a Government of National Unity at once. All Zionist parties must be pushed by their voters to join.
And so forth.
BE THAT as it may, the pertinent question is whether a spontaneous outbreak is in the offing.
Frankly, I don’t know. I doubt if anyone does.
The absence of any genuine peace initiative makes another intifada probable at some point. How long can the harsh occupation continue without a serious challenge?
On the other hand, it does not appear that the great mass of the Palestinian people is mentally prepared for a fight. In the occupied territories, a new bourgeoisie has come to life, which has a lot to lose. Under the auspices of the US, the Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, has succeeded in stimulating some sort of economy, in which quite a number flourish.
The prospect of another round of violence does not appeal to these people, nor does it attract poor people, who are already fully occupied with their daily survival. To get these people to rise up, you need an extremely provocative event. This can happen tomorrow morning, or within weeks or months, or not at all.
Abbas accuses Hamas of fomenting unrest in the West Bank, which is governed by Fatah, while Hamas itself, at the same time, is keeping the cease-fire in its own dominion, the Gaza Strip. Actually, both regimes, each in its own part of Palestine, are interested in quiet while accusing the other of collaborating with the occupation.
(A century and a half ago, Karl Marx denounced the efforts of his socialist adversary, Ferdinand Lassalle, to set up workers’ cooperatives. Marx asserted that once the workers had something to lose, they would not rise up anymore. If you want a revolution, Lenin is supposed to have said, “The worse things are, the better”.)
THE MORE people on both sides talk about the Third Intifada, the less it is likely to happen. As the Germans used to say, Revolutions foretold are not going to happen.
But if there is no end to the occupation in sight, the Third Intifada will break out one day, quite suddenly, when nobody has been talking about it, when everybody on both sides was thinking about other things.
read more wisdom from Uri Avnery on the Gush Shalom website
A message from Sam Bahour:
I could not make up the below update even if I were a world-class fiction writer.
You will recall my friend Walid Abu Rass who was taken in the middle of the night on November 22, 2011 when Israeli occupation soldiers arrived at his home at 1:30 A.M. His wife, Bayan, and two daughters, Mays, 13 years old, and Malak, 4 years old, were all frighteningly awakened with soldiers in their bedrooms as Walid was blindfolded and taken away. At the time, I wrote this: bit.ly/walidaburass…
Then, Amnesty International highlighted Walid’s case in their latest report titled, Starved of justice: Palestinians detained without trial by Israel’ (pg 26).
Something else happened after my last update that I was not aware of until a few days ago. Two weeks ago, during a case Walid brought forward to request to be released, the Israeli military “judge” REDUCED his administrative detention sentence by a month, making his new date of release June 22, this past Friday. His wife was relieved, again, finally! His daughters were in their glories. Dad was coming home, again, finally!
Then, on Thur, June 21, Walid was orally informed that his administrative detention order was being EXTENDED for 3 more months! Tomorrow, 25/6, he will be brought in front of an Israeli military “judge” to formally have his detention extended.
Remember, an Administrative Detention Order means you are being held for no reason that you or your lawyer know of. This practice was one reason behind all the prisoner hunger strikes that partially ended by Israel stating they would not renew detention orders. So much for that!
Walid is being held in Israel’s Ofer Military Detention Center , literally a 5 minute drive from his home, where his amazing wife and beautiful two daughter’s await him. He has now been out of his work for 7 months. His position was Finance and Administration Director at the Health Work Committees.
URGENT ACTION APPEAL
There is no reason for Walid to be imprisoned by Israel. His interrogators basically told him that much, saying he is there for “precautionary measures,” whatever that means.
WE WANT THE COURT TO RELEASE WALID TOMORROW!
For that to happen we ask every person of conscience who sees this message to act.
You can do any or all of the following to make your voice heard:
Reference his name, Walid (Hanatsheh) Abu Rass, and his ID # 9-9702819-6
1. Call/fax/email your nearest Israeli embassy/consulate. Here is a list to find one nearest you: Web Sites of Israeli Missions Abroad
2. Call/fax/email the following Israeli occupation officials:
Brigadier General Avihai Mandelblit
Military Judge Advocate General
6 David Elazar Street
Harkiya, Tel Aviv
Maj. Gen. Avi Mizrahi
OC Central Command Nehemia Base, Central Command
Neveh Yaacov, Jerusalam
Fax: +972 2 530 5741
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak
Ministry of Defense
37 Kaplan Street, Hakirya
Tel Aviv 61909, Israel
Fax: +972 3 691 6940 / +972-3-696-2757
Col. Eli Bar On
Legal Advisor of Judea and Samaria PO Box 5
Beth El 90631
Fax: +972 2 9977326
3. Call/fax the Public Ombudsman at The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Unit (COGAT), the Israeli military unit responsible for implementing the Israeli occupation: Telephone: +972-3-697-7957, Fax: +972-3-697-5177
4. Call/fax the jailer himself, Col. Ganish Menashe, Commander, Ofer Prison:
24-hour number: Telephone: +972-2-541-5610 or +972-2-541-5611, Fax: +972-8-919-3360
5. Call/fax/email your own country’s foreign affairs department (e.g. U.S. State Department, Palestine/Israel Desk) and put this issue on their radar.
6. Lastly, I have a personal appeal to Jews in Israel and around the world who are reading this. These kind of arbitrary detentions are being made in your name. This practice is merely breeding a generation of children who will hate more than they already do. Please act.
Walid’s wife, Bayan, was spot on when she told me at the start of this saga that “Administrative detention has a beginning, but doesn’t have an end.”
Does Walid have to go on a hunger strike and die before his girls can hug him again?
RELEASE WALID NOW!!!
Sonja Karkar, editor of Australians for Palestine, writes: There has been a lot happening around Palestinian prisoners
in recent times – public protests for their release, human rights reports documenting torture, prisoners held without due process, without charge or trial, especially the incarceration of children, and now a wave of hunger strikes that have reached mass proportions. Yet, there is barely a mention of this in the mainstream media. Unlike the lone Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, whose capture while on duty made news headlines, almost none of the 5000 plus Palestinians imprisoned in some 30 Israeli prisons and camps, ever have their horror stories given publicity. Most of them disappear into the black hole of oblivion for years, remembered only by their families. Yet, that brings Palestinians together, since most Palestinian families have had, or have, at least one family member in jail inside Israel. More than 700,000 Palestinians (about one-fifth of the population) have been imprisoned since the beginning of Israel’s occupation in 1967, the vast majority of them political dissidents without “blood on their hands”. In fact, more than two-thirds of the Palestinian Legislative Council’s members have been kidnapped without charge, most of them serving their sentences only to be kidnapped again. Imagine any country’s legislators being rounded up like this and held without charge and ask yourself what the outcry would be.
Contrary to international law, Israel employs these punitive practices to dominate and control, but the media continues to ignore the plight of the prisoners. And, it is not just the BBC, to which the article below refers. As the writer says “If this extraordinary, mass feat of unarmed resistance, where more than a thousand men and women are willing to starve themselves to death in the struggle for liberation from an oppressive regime, was taking place in China or Iran  — or any other country not behaving in the interests of the West — it would be receiving constant coverage in newspapers and on television. We would be presented with analysis, comment, talking heads, and we would know.” But not when it comes to Israel. Israel, it seems, is above the law and the media falls into line, apart from the rare article in the interests of fair reporting. Of course, such articles never make the headlines. - SK
BBC challenged for ignoring plight of Palestinian prisoners
by Amena Saleem
The Electronic Intifada
25 April 2012
“I had no idea. How could I not have known?”
I heard those words on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day  (17 April) from a teacher, shocked at discovering how Israel abducts, abuses and imprisons Palestinian children — some as young as 12 — in the West Bank because they may or may not have thrown stones at Israel’s wall .
She had tagged along with a friend to a talk given in London by [Australian lawyer] Gerard Horton of Defence for Children International–Palestine Section , and until that moment had been unaware of the brutalities of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Horton’s lecture focused on a new DCI-Palestine report which documents the various traumas Palestinian children regularly face during Israeli military detention (“Bound, Blindfolded and Convicted: Children held in military detention  ,” 14 April 2012).
The answer to her question is fairly simple: this woman — a member of the educated, professional middle-classes — did not know because she relies on the mainstream media, led by the BBC , for her news. And that media’s silence on the realities of Israel’s occupation is deafening.
Last week, 1,200 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails began an open-ended hunger strike  in protest at the illegalities and injustices of their incarceration. Another 2,300 refused food for the duration of Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. Their action came just weeks after Khader Adnan  ended his 66-day hunger strike and Hana al-Shalabi  was released (though banished to Gaza) after refusing food for 43 days, both protesting at Israel’s use of administrative detention  against them.
Several other prisoners remain on long-standing hunger strikes, including 27-year-old Bilal Diab  and 34-year-old Thaer Halahleh , now into their second month without food.
Extraordinary feat of resistance
If this extraordinary, mass feat of unarmed resistance, where more than a thousand men and women are willing to starve themselves to death in the struggle for liberation from an oppressive regime, was taking place in China or Iran  — or any other country not behaving in the interests of the West — it would be receiving constant coverage in newspapers and on television. We would be presented with analysis, comment, talking heads, and we would know.
But these brave men and women are Palestinian, and the oppressive regime is Israel, and so the media’s curtain of self-censorship has been drawn.
Furious at this lack of coverage, Scottish activists from the We Are All Hana Shalabi Network occupied BBC Scotland headquarters on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day demanding reasons for the blackout (“Report on Glasgow’s BBC occupation and ‘Karamah hunger strike’ march ,” We Are All Hana Shalabi Network, 18 April 2012)
They were eventually met by Ian Small, a senior BBC official, who told them that the BBC aimed its coverage towards a certain demographic.
“He said that demographic was white-collar and aged over 50,” said Liam O’Hare, an organizer of the protest. “The idea that the BBC aims its coverage towards a certain section of society, when it’s paid for by all licence-fee payers, is a disgrace.”
Occupying the main lobby of the BBC building, the protestors flew Palestinian flags and shouted: “BBC shame on you, put the prisoners on the news.” Later that day, around 300 demonstrators marched from Glasgow’s George Square to the building.
“The BBC is complicit in the occupation through its silence,” said O’Hare. “When you see the magnitude of what Palestinian prisoners are prepared to do to challenge Israel’s apartheid, and then look at the media’s blackout of that, you realize its inherent bias.”
And it’s not just the mass hunger strikes that are kept from us — the mainstream media’s blackout also extends to the weekly peaceful protests by unarmed Palestinians and internationals in villages across the West Bank, protests which demand Israel ends its theft of Palestinian land and which are invariably met with tear gas, skunk water  and rubber bullets by the Israeli military.
Conversely, every time a rocket is fired from the besieged Gaza Strip into southern Israel, the BBC is quick to report, freely adopting Israeli-favored terminology such as “terrorists” and “militants” to describe the Palestinians. Their peaceful, unarmed resistance against their illegal occupation is not, it would seem, newsworthy.
Violence makes news?
When the Palestine Solidarity Campaign  asked BBC news bosses for the
reasoning behind this selective coverage, the answer was “violence makes
news.” We pointed out that there is plenty of violence at the weekly protests in the West Bank — it comes from the Israeli forces and results in frequent injuries and sometimes death. In fact, we said, violence by Israel’s military, navy and air force and by Israeli settlers in the West Bank is an everyday feature of life for Palestinians — if violence does, in fact, make news, there’s no shortage of it for the BBC in occupied Palestine.
The BBC could fill its news bulletins every evening with stories and footage of Israel’s violence against the Palestinians — the shelling and bombing of crowded civilian districts by the military in Gaza, the burning of Palestinian olive groves and torching of mosques in the West Bank by settlers, the house demolitions , with families forced out at gunpoint, in East Jerusalem .
But it chooses not to, and the rest of the mainstream media remains similarly silent. Silent, and in denying its audience knowledge of the horrors of the Israeli occupation and the Palestinians’ incredible resistance to it, shamefully complicit.
Amena Saleem is active with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the UK and keeps a close eye on the media’s coverage of Palestine as part of her brief. She has twice driven on convoys to Gaza for PSC. More information on PSC is available at <palestinecampaign.org… .