By Daoud Kuttab
Knesset member and Palestinian firebrand Ahmad Tibi has reiterated that the current wave of violence is a reflection of anger and despair and called on Israelis to seize the moment and act to correct the situation. In an interview with Al-Monitor, Tibi appealed to the Israelis, saying that the fastest way to reach peace and save lives is to end the occupation of Palestinian lands. “Sooner or later, the Israelis must realize that nothing can break the will of a people longing for freedom and independence. This, the longest and last remaining occupation on Earth, must come to an end, through international pressure and the struggle of the people,” he said.
Tibi pointed out that the current situation has increased cohesion between Palestinians, even though the division continues. “The Palestinian people are akin to a multi-sided body existing as one in the West Bank, Gaza, the interior and the diaspora. Despite that fact, we regret the continued division among the Palestinian people.”
One of the most vocal Arab members of the Israeli Knesset, Tibi appeared to be indirectly criticizing the current round of violence by Palestinian youth, calling instead for a totally nonviolent peaceful protest, saying, “Broad, peaceful, popular resistance is an avenue that remains untried but must be espoused, as it will garner the support of the whole world.”
The brunt of Tibi’s anger was focused on the right-wing Israeli government and its racist attitudes toward Palestinians. He told Al-Monitor, “The current Knesset is the most extremist, racist and hostile to Arabs and Palestinians.” Continue Reading »
By Daoud Kuttab
Israel’s continued punishment for the people of Jerusalem will do little to de-escalate the tensions, but will certainly contribute to widening them. Isolating neighborhoods and demolishing Palestinian homes is considered a collective punishment and a violation to the IV Geneva Conventions.
Isolating neighborhoods and demolishing Palestinian homes is considered a collective punishment.
The Israeli obsession to weaken the national aspiration of Jerusalemites by cutting off East Jerusalem from the rest of Palestine has meant that the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership has no leverage on fellow Palestinians. Continue Reading »
By Daoud Kuttab
Despite the sense of pride Palestinians have been expressing as they break the fear barrier and stump one of the world’s most powerful armies, Jerusalem’s intifada is taking its toll on the Palestinians of the holy city.
The trigger-happy Israeli soldiers, settlers and citizens encouraged by their government to carry weapons have created fear and terror among the 350,000 Palestinians who make East Jerusalem their home.
A resident of the Old City expressed this fear. In a post on his Facebook page Oct. 12, Ahmad Buderi said that Palestinians in the Old City want international protection, especially from armed settlers. “Any mistake can easily lead to the end of your life using the cover of self-defense. All it takes is for the settler to say ‘mikhablim’ [Hebrew for terrorists], and you can easily be the target of bullets coming at you from all directions.”
Buderi said that Palestinians refrain from talking about this, “but you can see this in the eyes of the mothers. Their pride prevents them from talking about it, but I see it even in the eyes of many young people.” Buderi, who works as a reporter for ABC News, had received 1,736 likes on his post and 335 shares at the time of this writing, and the 114 comments mostly express fear. A few comments expressed worry that if Israelis see the Buderi’s Facebook post they might be encouraged.
The worry expressed by Buderi turned into a nightmare for Abber Majed, 16, and her sister Wafa, 13. The girls had walked from their home in the Saadieh neighborhood in the Old City in the late afternoon of Oct. 13 to buy bread from the Musrara bakery just outside Damascus Gate: They didn’t return home. Their family panicked and started looking for the girls; they even posted their disappearance on social media with pictures and a phone number to call. Shortly after midnight the girls returned home. They had been detained and held for questioning by the Israeli police without being allowed to inform their family of their whereabouts or contact a lawyer — a clear violation of Israeli law. Continue Reading »
By Daoud Kuttab
Every revolution seems to have perfected or made particular use of a technological advancement. The current series of protests begun by Palestinian activists Sept. 13 is no exception. Social media via smartphone appears to be the flavor of the month in modes of communication, due to the ease it offers for instantly uploading video.
Danny Qumsieh, owner of the radio station Mawwal FM in Bethlehem, believes that the availability of high-quality mobile video cameras has made a huge difference. “Now everyone is involved in taking videos, positing them and sharing them with as many people as possible,” Qumsieh told Al-Monitor.
Mamoun Matar, a leading Palestinian broadcasting engineer, observed that technology has allowed many more people to take part in the ongoing Palestinian national struggle, stating, “Everyone has a mobile device or a laptop, and those who can capture photos and videos, and the rest work in the backrooms to edit and circulate the powerful images around the world.” Matar pointed out that young activists today are doing much of the work that traditional broadcast media used to do. This is unlike the second intifada that began in October 2000, when Al Jazeera and other Arab and regional satellite stations actively covered Palestinian protests. “Not this time,” said Matar. “They are busy with violent events in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya, so they are not giving Palestine as much attention as before.”
Khaled Abu Aker, director of Amin, one of Palestine’s first news websites, told Al-Monitor that for the first time, Palestinians no longer need traditional media. He remarked, “During the first and second intifada, we used to get calls asking the media to come and cover events. Today, the youth are doing the broadcasting themselves.” One entrepreneurial media outlet, however, has been providing the live TV coverage that many Palestinians and their supporters seek. Technicians from the Palestine News Network posted a camera near the main location of protests in Bethlehem and was able to live-stream scenes from the protests. Continue Reading »
By Daoud Kuttab
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called for “strengthening and increasing the intifada” on Oct. 9, saying that “Gaza was ready for confrontation.” The surge in violence, which began last month in Jerusalem, spread in the past week to the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. On Oct. 9, Israel restricted access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque to prevent further confrontations. The Noble Sanctuary, including the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, are revered by Muslims as the spot where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven. The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism, central to the Jewish faith as the site of two ancient temples, the first by King Solomon in 960 B.C.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under pressure from his right flank for his management of the crisis. Ben Caspit reports that Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked from the HaBayit HaYehudi party and Yisrael Beitenu party leader Avigdor Liberman are calling for more aggressive actions, including new settlements and counterterrorism operations similar to those undertaken by Israel during the second intifada (2000-2002).
“At this stage, Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon are siding with the IDF [Israel Defense Forces], which is trying to ‘contain’ the events, to react with proportionate force, not to burn down their bridges and instead maximize the chances for cooling down the atmosphere. The problem is that under the explosive situation created on the ground, something can go wrong at any given moment or a terror attack can succeed, leading to deterioration. No one is really interested in an escalation, except for Hamas and other terror organizations. However, that does not mean that an escalation will not take place,” Caspit writes. Continue Reading »