Back in March, the social site Facebook took down a page calling for a Third Intifada, or “uprising,” against Israel. The page had all the necessary embellishments for an expression of radical rage: a fist, for instance, colored red, white and green, raised in the style of leftist solidarity. There was also a religious prediction: “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews.” These sentiments were attractive enough to net the page more than 340,000 fans.
Acknowledgements of such fanaticism have crept into the press lately, but they have largely been ignored. The Jerusalem Post has reported that “seventy percent of Palestinians expect a third intifada similar to those of 1987 and 2000 if Israeli-Palestinian peace talks fail.” The article then assures us that twenty-five percent said they oppose another intifada; notwithstanding, the numbers do reveal a kind of begrudging acceptance of a culture of perpetual rage among Palestinians, whether they support it or not. For instance, the recent “Nakba Day” skirmishes in the Golan Heights and along the border with southern Lebanon were born of the same nothing-to-lose psychosis as last year’s flotilla incident, and this type of thinking has not been exhausted. One Palestinian official, Nabil Sha’ath, said a few days ago that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before the U.S. Congress could have been construed as an act of war. Sabri Saidam, deputy speaker of the Fatah Council, threw in his own innuendo. According to the Huffington Post, Saidam predicted that the recent border violence is only a “rehearsal” for other uprisings. He even mentioned the likelihood of a “third intifada,” although it’s not clear from the context of the article whether he supports the idea or is simply anticipating it.
This brand of rhetoric is nothing particularly new or interesting; what is significant, however, are the context and circumstances. Come September, when the Palestinians apply for membership to the United Nations, they will once again find themselves in a situation in which defeat might be more valuable than victory. Technically, a vote in their favor at the UN would not confer statehood as such, only membership into the body. But a vote for membership would mean a de facto Palestinian state, with the “international community” sanctifying the so-called 1967 borders. This stunt is almost certain to fail, and the Palestinian leaders know this and perhaps even desire it. To be successful, the motion for membership would first have to clear the Security Council (with United States veto power) in order to be brought to a vote in the General Assembly.
Some countries, like Spain, have already declared their support for recognizing Palestine as a member of the UN. The decrepit and double-dealing Arab League has done so as well. This works out especially well for Amr Moussa, the league’s secretary general, who gets to beef up his credentials for the Egyptian presidency by using the U.S. and NATO to do his organization’s wetwork in Libya, while also croaking out criticisms of the West and Israel on the side. In this way, he simultaneously gets to benefit from and denounce Western interventionism, offering everything to everybody.