Youth Lead Palestinian Revolt

08 November 2015

IN THE last month Israeli occupation forces have murdered 60 Palestinians, 15 of them under the age of 18. One, Dania Irshaid, a 17-year-old student returning from school, was shot holding her hands in the air. Israeli sources later claimed that she had been “carrying a knife”.

Nine Israelis have been killed in the same period, in which security forces and civilians have attacked other Israelis (and in one incident shot and lynched an Eritrean refugee) after mistaking them for Palestinians.

Over 800 Palestinians have been arrested in the last month, and more than 1,300 shot and injured in the first half of October. Israel has demolished 450 Palestinian homes this year alone. And alongside this day-to-day brutality, there is the ongoing violence of the siege of Gaza, where Israel’s tight control of even the most basic necessities causes premeditated suffering for 1.8 million Palestinians.

Popular resistance to this state violence has seen militant demonstrations at checkpoints, led by Palestinian youth, as well as protests against the racist “separation barrier” that Israel built to gobble up the land around its illegal settlements on the West Bank.

Among these youth there is widespread disaffection with the Palestinian Authority (PA), which they rightly see as being complicit in Israel’s occupation. The PA’s leaders have grown all too comfortable with their position as Israel’s partner in an endlessly stalled “peace process”. Since the US-brokered Oslo accords of 1993, the Fatah-led PA has made concession after concession that make a “two-state solution” practically impossible.

But popular pressure has revealed cracks in this complicity. PA security forces usually police demonstrations in cooperation with the Israeli army. But they are now often seen standing aside, in accordance with the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s decision to “suspend security cooperation”.

Meanwhile, Israel’s politicians are whipping up racist hatred to prepare their public for the violence necessary to continue the occupation. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even claimed that Hitler had not wanted to exterminate the Jews until persuaded to by the Mufti of Jerusalem, a major figure in Palestinian politics in the 1930s and ’40s.

This falsification of history, which would be punishable as holocaust denial in many Western countries, serves a purpose: to blame the Palestinians for their own suffering and to justify their further expulsion. Pushing this message will become all the more important for Israel’s ruling class since Netanyahu made clear on 26 October that he rejected both a binational state and any separate Palestinian state “for the foreseeable future”, saying that Israel would “need to control all of the territory”, and that Israel will have to “forever live by the sword”.

Everyone deserves the right to live with full civil and political rights in their own country. And most Jewish Israelis (about 70 per cent) were born in Israel, many of whom have been there for generations. But Netanyahu’s vision, in which one national group has political rights and a state, while another has neither individual citizenship nor a country of their own, has a name: apartheid.

The only just solution is one secular state for both national groups, with no privilege for either peoples.

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