Predicting the end of the occupation
Larry Derfner, 2nd February 2011
I would prefer that the occupation ended in orderly fashion, without chaos, with the settlers living near the Green Line feeling unthreatened and the others having plenty of time to relocate. Unfortunately, this is not happening; I’d hoped the Obama administration would pressure Israel out of the West Bank, but nobody’s pressuring it out of anything. The 43-year status quo becomes more entrenched each day.
Still, the bad blood has been rising – among the Palestinians, the Arabs, Europe, liberal America, and the bad blood in Israel has been rising in kind. Something’s going to blow, I figured, and my guess was that Israel would start one war too many, maybe against Iran, or Lebanon, or Gaza, and masses of Israelis as well as foreigners would die, and when the smoke cleared it would be recalled that we started it, and the world would finally run out of patience with us and we would get out of the West Bank in a lather to avoid being ostracized, to save ourselves from becoming a Jewish North Korea.
Again, not my preferred way of ending the occupation. But no “good” way was presenting itself.
And then came Tunisia. And Egypt. And Iran, and Yemen, and Bahrain, and Libya, and no one knows where this is going to stop.
And it became pretty clear to me that this is how Israeli rule in the West Bank is going to end – through Palestinian people power. Masses of Palestinians, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, marching to IDF checkpoints and outposts, marching to Israeli-only roads, to settlements, to the security fence – to the nearest Israeli presence and screaming, “Out! Out!”
And refusing to leave.
WHAT THE hell is the IDF going to do then? Shoot them? Arrest them? With the whole world not only watching but, for the first time, already won over by other unarmed Arab masses facing down their oppressors? What will the IDF do under the eyes of a world that, for the first time, is seeing Arabs as people like themselves who want freedom, who deserve it and who are earning it, to say the least, with their courage?
How will the IDF and the Palestinian Authority police – those who don’t defect – get all these people to go back home and stay there?
I don’t see it. I think we’re going to have grand-scale anarchy on our hands – and we won’t be able to solve it by force, and the world will be on the side of the anarchists.
Impossible? If you say this is impossible, you’ve been on Mars for the last month. If you’ve been on Earth, the idea of the Arab revolt not reaching the West Bank is what seems impossible. To me, it’s inevitable. I’m only surprised it hasn’t started already.
After all, the Palestinians’ “war of the stones,” the first intifada in the late 1980s, was close to being a model for what’s happening in the Middle East now. The Egyptians and other Arab rebels have even adopted the term intifada, which means “shaking off.”
True, the first intifada (not to mention the second one) wasn’t nonviolent – the Palestinians threw stones and Molotov cocktails. But they certainly played David to the IDF’s Goliath. And in recent years, the “popular resistance” – the marches on the security fence in Bil’in and other West Bank villages – has been all but nonviolent, with only a few teenagers throwing stones at IDF troops, usually from far distances.
The Palestinians are the Arab world’s masters at political judo – at turning the enemy’s superior power against him. This is how civil disobedience works, and it’s working wonders in the Middle East, so why on earth shouldn’t it come to the West Bank, too?
It’s a matter of time. Maybe it’ll start Friday with the Palestinians’ “Day of Rage” against the US veto of the UN resolution against settlements. If not Friday, it’ll start soon. Something will set it off.
And yes, I’m hoping it happens. If the only other options are occupation forever or peace following catastrophe – and I think those are the only other options – I prefer people power.
It’s going to be messy. Bibi Netanyahu will be pounding the table for negotiations, and the Palestinians massed at the checkpoints, settlements and security fence will say, “Negotiations? Hmm… how about no? How about you people just get off our land? How about you people just get off our necks? Until then, we’re not leaving.”
Who’s going to save our bacon then? Barack Obama? AIPAC? Sarah Palin?
I don’t know how this is going to play out; there are 300,000 settlers living in the West Bank, 100,000 of them on the far side of the security fence. If there’s a “rosewater revolution” or something, if the IDF is helpless against it and if the whole world sides with the rebels, then we’re going to have an emergency on our hands over there.
If I were running the government, I would think about building mobile home parks for settlers – lots of them. I would think about setting aside billions of dollars to compensate these families for their lost homes.
The image of bewildered, broken families streaming out of the settlements gives me no joy. I wish this terrible sin that Israel committed by conquering the Palestinians could be undone in a less traumatic way. But conquerors tend to grow smug, they think that because they’re calling the shots they’ve got all the time in the world, then one day they find out that the earth, in fact, does not stand still.
It’s happened once or twice in history, it’s happening across the Middle East now, it’ll happen in the West Bank soon. Justice is coming our way, and I sincerely hope it doesn’t turn out to be too rough.