The Third Intifada?
Commentary on Current Events
During the past week we have begun to see the words ‘third intifada’ appear in a number of news sites, along with other names, such as a ‘car intifada.’ While it’s too soon to tell if what we are experiencing will continue and worsen into what will truly be an ‘intifada,’ we have seen a tightening of security measures following successful attacks on civilians. It’s important to remember that this isn’t new, though. Violence and injustice are constantly simmering here, and these attacks gain more coverage and response, a sort of bubbling and bursting at the surface, a reminder that all is not well, the status quo of occupation is insufficient, and the suffering touches all of us.
Goody Two Shoes: I have no idea. I am holding my breath and will probably pass out before I have an answer. There has been increased Army presence in my neighbourhood and clashes with stone throwers. One night last week my teenager was about to come home from his waiting job when I heard there was a 'clash' on the street he would soon be walking on. Even if the bit he walked on was 200m away he might go and look and be vulnerable to stray bullets and tear gas or even know one of the Jewish soldiers that used to be at his school. Dilemma: 1. Go pick him up or 2. Text him to tell him to come home another way or 3. Not say anything so he will not worry. It wasn't our street so it could be a world away and I needed to put the news on to see what was happening. In the end I texted him a basic note to come home a different way, told my husband to wait up for him and went to bed myself!
Tootsie Pop: For the past couple of months, we have been hearing of attacks happening almost every day in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas, including the West Bank. Working in the Old City puts me in a closer view of what's really happening. I see IDF soldiers and policemen guarding every entrance to Al-Haram Al-Sharif (one of the holiest places in Islam). Frustrated men, women and youth stand helpless and angry that they cannot enter to pray in their place of worship. I see children being dragged out of their classrooms and homes to be "interrogated" by the Israeli intelligence, while parents/teachers and principals stand defenseless. Besides, the increasing cost of living in Jerusalem, in comparison with the average income per family is outrageous! I do believe that the attacks that we are witnessing are a result of this frustration that Palestinians are feeling about their lives here in Jerusalem. It is extremely unsettling living and working in Jerusalem, knowing this is going on.
My fear is that a third Intifada will break out starting in Jerusalem, and move to the West Bank. What happens to Palestinians in Jerusalem inevitably affects Palestinians everywhere. The tense situation is a ticking time bomb. Israel needs to deal with it wisely before it gets out of hand.
I pray that by a miracle, the Israeli government will have some sanity to deal with this circumstance. I pray for sanity...
Y.: The current back and forth violence has not affected my daily life, which I actually think shows how different it is living in a Jewish community versus a Palestinian community. I have seen a much greater police presence, especially on the days that I visit East Jerusalem for work. Furthermore, there have been traffic disturbances and I may have even smelled the infamous "skunk gas." One day, while taking a walk with my son, I could see a thick cloud of smoke over all of East Jerusalem, illuminated by the sunset behind. It eerily appeared that Jerusalem was on fire and the thick cloud almost seemed a physical reminder of the tangible fear in the air. However, I realize that it is affecting the Palestinian population far more than me. I think the hardest thing is seeing the vast injustices, the growing hatred on both sides, and the greatly unfair perpetuation of a system that has a very different standard for Jews versus Palestinians.
Abbsi: Intifada….what a meaningful – powerful word. It takes so much energy from us. When people say it, many things come to my mind- fear, no hope, disgust, killing, innocent people harmed, etc. As a Palestinian I was hoping not to have to say or think of this word again. Enough twice and the results were bad. Why a third one then…..is everyone blind or deaf?
For the first time, I see the people of Palestine and the people of Israel, if not all but many, saying that we are against what is taking place in our country. We refuse to be called enemies. We disagree with both governments. Doors are more open as people are fed up with the two governments. If the government could not make any progress, then let us start one.
In the last days, I have had the chance to be in conversations about a third intifada and most of those, if not all, are so stunned how people kill themselves for the sake of Islam or in the name of Islam leaving children behind. As a Palestinian it does not bring me honor. To some it was done out of frustration, but that is not an excuse. But I believe it is the time for Israel to treat the other as a human because it is firing back on itself and many innocent people are killed as a result. I also think that Palestinians should be mature enough and go beyond by seeking nonviolent resistance. In this, I hope, pray and also ask that we all have peace because we both have the right to live and live freely. Let us hope there will be no third intifada because it puts us back many hundreds of years. And we just thought we have started something…
Bee: I just got back from work, and I drove home just like any other day. No extra police or less tourists in town. And when I get to my house, all I could hear are chants of “Allahu Akbar” in a nearby neighborhood. Then I hear gunshots and lights which make the chants simmer down, but after a few minutes they get louder again. Then the gun shots come back. This echoes itself in another neighborhood where all I could hear is the loud shot sound and see the bright flash. It feels very surreal. There is unrest among a population living in my city, and I feel so far from them. If I think about it too long, I worry about my safety. I worry about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Then I check the Israeli news and they have no report of what is going on. I check the Palestinian news, and they are reporting on demonstrations happening across Jerusalem and in the West Bank. I head to the kitchen and eat something before I go to bed. Life must goes on.
I.: Just the thought of it makes my heart stop for a minute, and my muscles tense. My mind immediately jumps to pictures of the worst, of what we’ve seen in past intifadas.
Things are more tense now. Every few days I can hear skirmishes between demonstrators, stone throwers, and border police. Sometimes these youth from the village shout so loudly that their chants of Allahu Akbar waft through the windows. During a brief electrical outage the other day, a frightened older woman from my building came down and asked, “Do you think it’s the Arabs?” It wouldn’t be my first guess, I told her, although maybe there was some vandalism. Within half an hour the electricity was on, some minor problem in our neighborhood, so it seems. Demonstrators have been firing firecrackers at border police, and throwing stones toward buses, cars and homes close to them. My husband was on one such bus the other day, and they had to get off due to the amount of shattered glass. Police have been firing stun grenades and tear gas. The noise was loud the other night, and I wondered what would come of it. Surveillance balloons float over Palestinian villages, violating privacy, giving security, an unpleasant site in the Jerusalem skyline, a reminder that our city knows no peace. Vandalism is prevalent throughout the city, ‘Death to Arabs’ scrawled in mixed areas. The attacks on civilians have come close to my family, but they haven’t been out during those times.
The situation is tense, but I tell my soul to be still. The surrounding circumstances will not dictate my emotions. I am in control of my response, and I choose to be at peace, to speak peace, to speak comfort to my city.
There’s more fear in the air, but we have a choice in all these situations. We can let the chaos dictate our response, or we can choose to let our hearts remain at peace while we hear what is going on around us. The chants of Allahu Akbar invigorate the demonstrating youth in Jerusalem and other tense areas, frightening some of us as a result. We can choose to let this chill our hearts, and send fear through our veins. Or, we can choose to hear these chants, and claim this affirmation ‘Allahu Akbar,’ remembering that God is greater, and God is with us. Isaiah 40.