RAMALLAH, October 11 (JMCC) - There are several reasons why Palestinians shouldn't be expected to launch a new uprising any time soon, writes author and academic
Wendy Pearlman in Foreign Policy
After decades of agitation by the Palestinian public, it is time for the international community to step in and do its part, she argues.
It may seem odd to argue that Palestinians are unlikely to engage in mass protest, given their deep history of popular mobilization and the many examples of creative grassroots activism on the ground today. These include West Bank villages' ongoing protests against Israel's separation wall, demonstrations against home demolitions in East Jerusalem, and the rallies last March demanding reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, among numerous other undertakings that do and do not attract notice in the West. But there are several reasons why such instances of localized or single-episode actions do not add up to national mobilization akin to the revolts seen elsewhere in the Arab world.
First, other uprisings in the region were propelled by the unleashing of frustrations that had been pent-up for decades. Palestinians, on the other hand, have had an uprising every generation. In this respect, the devastating toll of the second Intifada cannot be overstated. With more than 4,000 deaths and more than 5,000 prisoners in Israeli jails --apart from colossal economic losses, ravaging political and territorial fragmentation, and incalculable social suffering -- Palestinians are wary of another uprising. Moreover, they are skeptical about its chances for success. A recent poll asked, If a peaceful popular revolt like in Egypt or Tunisia were to erupt against the Israeli occupation in the West Bank, would it be capable of ending occupation? Of Palestinian respondents, 64 percent said no, as did 72 percent of Israeli respondents. In contrast to other Arab publics, therefore, Palestinians are not alight with the thrill of reclaiming a long-suppressed voice. Rather, they are hoarse, and disillusioned, from shouting for so long.