Yousef Munayyer has highlighted a movement barely noticed in American media in the May 18, 2001 issue of Foreign Policy magazine. This movement, which several others including Harvard Professor Dr. Wendy Pearlman called it the Second Intifada (or “Shaking Off” or “Struggle”), may just capture the moral high ground in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…if it were to not only persist but grow.
Dire straits don’t even begin to describe the turmoil in the so-called Holy Land, where a lasting peace between Israeli and Palestinian would be both ironic and quite possibly problematic to the religious identities of both indigenous populations. The convoluted story goes something like this. On one side you have people who want to wipe Israel off the map and the other side believes that all Palestinians are terrorists. But when you put aside the narratives of people who are not an Israeli Jew or Palestinian, it gets a little more complicated. In that little strip of land on the eastern Mediterranean, the two sides have become a little more multifaceted. I have heard of many Israeli Jews who not just believe but actually fight for Palestinian self-determination, but let us leave that for another story. This story comes from the other side who also would like to occupy the middle-ground.
Non-violent Palestinians may just hold the strategic key to finally settling the conflict. It has the power to face and destroy both the “wipe Israel of the map” and “all Palestinians are terrorists” narratives while depolarizing the situation. Palestinian youth may see it as a more useful form of resistance compared to violent resistance, one that doesn’t taint their distress with vengeance. Just as important, Israeli forces may run the risk of delegitimizing their current policies if they use violent force against non-violent protesters. Hopefully, it could bring the focus of the conflict where it should have always been…to discuss the nature of their struggle, their intent, and ultimately their identity.
And through this perhaps a new side can finally solidify. It is not the side of the Jew or Israeli verses the Muslim or Arab/Palestinian but of the moderate versus the extremists on both sides who wish the other did not exist.
Cannon to the right of them,
Cannon to the left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell…
–excerpt from The Charge of the Light Brigade by Lord Tennyson