by Drew Christiansen and Ra’fat Aldajani, NCR
The latest upsurge of violence in Israel/Palestine has raised fears that a third Palestinian intifada is breaking out. In just this past month, eight Israelis and 42 Palestinians have been killed in the Jerusalem area alone. News coverage in the United States has largely adopted the Israeli government’s narrative of the violence — Palestinians, enraged by incitement in their media regarding malevolent Israeli intentions for the Haram Sharif/Temple Mount compound, have reacted violently by embarking on a spate of knife attacks against Israelis.
Knife attacks against Israeli civilians are horrific and deserve the condemnation that they receive. However, these attacks do not occur in a vacuum, independent of the wider context in which they periodically flare up. Focusing narrowly and exclusively on one element of a much larger complicated and nuanced issue neither addresses the cause nor protects Israelis from future violence.
Instead, it serves only to further delay the possibility of any durable and serious resolution to the conflict, allows Israel to react to the violence in disproportionate ways that further fuels the cycle of violence between the two sides, and continues the dangerous slide from a political conflict that is resolvable to a religious one that is not.
Although the stabbings are a new element and Palestinian protests are an old story, the protests today involve a post-Oslo (1995) generation of Palestinians who never experienced the brief hope that Oslo brought. Instead, this new generation, in their teens and early 20s, has grown up experiencing nothing but stifling and often brutal Israeli occupation, settler violence and an impotent Palestinian Authority it barely relates to.
This current wave of violence wasn’t unexpected: in September 2015, 44.5 percent of Israelis polled said that they believed a third Palestinian intifada would break out within a year if there is no progress towards peace…