Thursday, October 29, 2015

29-Oct-15: Pal Arab terror attackers: Martyrs not because their deaths have meaning but because it's too hard to admit they don't

Trapped in pointlessness and uncertainty: Photo 
montage images like this one, depicting young 
Palestinian Arab attackers detained and in the hands 
of Israeli security and smiling, are currently viral 
and all over the Arabic-language social media [Image Source]  
We have just read, and want to recommend, a thoughtful and constructive analysis article by Haviv Rettig-Gur ["Losing Palestine: The terrorism of the past month is not a new surge in Palestinian opposition to Israel, but a howl against the pervasive Palestinian sense that resistance has failed", Times of Israel, October 27, 2015].

We don't agree with every word (naturally). But it's a well-written, helpful and informed counterpoint to the superficial, tendentious, agenda-driven and fact-light reporting that currently provides most people with what they think they know about events on Israel's streets and buses this past month.

Some selected excerpts (the bolded emphasis is ours):
  • ...[T]he Palestinian people are not lashing out at the Israelis. They are staying home. The elites, meanwhile, are paying lip service to the “martyrs” — the PA’s lip service can be rabid, to be sure, openly celebrating the stabbing of children or offering anti-Semitic blood libels in official media — but are simultaneously acting with determination on the ground to disrupt and stop the attacks against Israelis, and even, more rarely, to offer arguments against them. In this absence of the people and the elites from the fighting, in the quiet, desperate effort to end the violence alongside the public need to affirm its legitimacy, a deeper message emerges. 
  • These youths — the average age of the attackers hovers at around 20 — who are killing Israelis, and often dying almost instantly in the attempt, are lauded as martyrs among Palestinians not so much because Palestinians believe their deaths have meaning, but because it is too agonizing to admit publicly that they do not... 
  • These young killers are striving, in their kamikaze fervor, to rekindle the idea among Palestinians that straightforward victory remains possible, if only because the alternative – the possibility that Israel cannot be dislodged, that the nostalgic vision of an undivided, unfettered Palestine cannot be reclaimed — is simply too monstrous to accept.
  • [I]t is significant that their actions are loudly celebrated and quietly regretted.
  • Their self-proclaimed “Jerusalem awakening,” at once an appeal to the sanctity of Al-Aqsa and an admonition at the galling vacuum of powerlessness that Jerusalem has come to represent, is no awakening at all. In their rejection of existing Palestinian authorities, these “digital natives,” at home in the anarchic internet and partly shaped by its narcissistic tendencies, are in search of a new cultural and political wellspring of resistance that is not tainted by the failures of Fatah and Hamas...
  • [T]he very thing that gives these young, decidedly modern attackers their tactical advantage ensures their strategic defeat. Israelis who ultimately brushed off the suicide bombings of the Second Intifada through the simple expedient of continuing with their daily lives will not be cowed by stabbings in the street. This simple truth is not lost on the attackers. It is one reason that they do not discuss goals or strategy in any serious way. The video games, cartoons and music videos they share are essentially devoid of a narrative. These artifacts of the present state of Palestinian “popular resistance” are mostly focused not on a discernible path to national redemption, but on the promise of personal satisfaction. The message is simple: stab the Jews, watch them scream, prove to yourself in that instant that they are mortal, vulnerable. For that brief moment – so the online campaign implicitly claims – Palestinian dignity is restored.
  • Yet the real-world attacks that flow from this promise, the moments of frantic scuffling with Israelis, the quick deaths the attackers meet time and again, even when facing unarmed Israeli civilians, only bring the collapse of Palestinian solutions and self-respect – and Israeli unflappability – into sharper relief...
  • [A]s Palestinian public opinion grows weary of the pointlessness of the current struggle, Palestinian politics remain trapped in the lingering uncertainty, an uncertainty that is Hamas’s lifeblood and validation: What if we are giving up too soon? What if a little more pain, a little more sacrifice, will yet redeem and restore all that has been lost? Few really believe that anymore in Palestine, but none are yet willing to seek another path.
The context is important, and these are only extracts. The writer's analysis of what we see as the latest chapter in the Palestinian Arab tragedy is certainly worth the few minutes of thought and attention that it demands.

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