One dissident Jew addresses the "Causes and Effects of the Al-Aqsa Intifada"
Number 59 31 October 2000
The Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine / 2425-35 Virginia Ave., NW /
Washington, DC 20037 / Tel: 202.338.1290 / Fax: 202.333.7742 /
Causes and Effects of the Al-Aqsa Intifada
At an October 26 CPAP lecture, Maxim Ghilan asserted that because
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak was unable to force his proposals through
at Camp David, he allowed Ariel Sharon's controversial East Jerusalem visit
in order to provoke a Palestinian response. Ghilan, director of the
International Jewish Peace Union, discussed the uprising that resulted, as
well as the role of the Israeli peace movement and the United States
government in responding to the current crisis. Ghilan relayed his fears
that conditions may be right for a mass expulsion of Palestinians with
According to Ghilan, Barak went to Camp David with a "deliberate
intention" to compel Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser
Arafat "to bow to his approach" regarding final status issues. Arafat
refused, so Barak moved to his backup plan. The "troubles broke out"
ostensibly because of Sharon's visit to the Haram al-Sharif, said Ghilan,
yet this was not accidental. Instead, the visit was an example of "political
karate" by "Sharon and Barak [to try] to create a situation [in] which the
Palestinians . . . would put themselves in the wrong." As a result of
Sharon's visit, a popular uprising erupted.
This uprising is a "joint" effort between Palestinians with Israeli
citizenship and those in the Occupied Territories. Although Palestinians
inside Israel receive far more economic benefits than their neighbors in the
West Bank and Gaza, their "political situation [has been] very, very bad."
In the 1950s, "every single Arab was under curfew inside the borders of
Israel." More recently, the presence of foreign media in Israel has helped
to improve the position of Palestinian Israelis. Palestinians became members
of the Knesset and took on other leadership roles. In response to their
empowerment and statements critical of the system, Israeli authorities
started investigating Palestinian members of the Knesset, increased the
demolition of Palestinian homes, "beat up more and more people," and in
short, "created a situation" in which young Palestinian Israelis felt
compelled to join the new intifada.
This experience was similar to the first intifada, which was "started by
that age group [in the Occupied Territories] which had nothing to
lose"-those aged 9-14 who had no jobs, were "under curfew a great part of
the time," and were willing to face the negative consequences of their
protests. For similar reasons, Palestinians in Israel who had been
"completely quiet for [more than] 50 years" ended their silence during this
The involvement of Palestinian Israelis in these clashes "reinforced"
the Israeli government notion of an "exchange of populations between the
territories" and Israel. "This is a very nice phrase but what does it mean?"
Ghilan asked. When one considers Israel plans to annex the settlement blocks
in the Occupied Territories, there really are no Jewish Israelis to
exchange. In reality, this is "a plan to throw out as many Arab Israelis as
possible, take over their land," and create the "famed, fabled, fortressed
Israel, in which only Jews live." Ghilan fears that if there is no
intervention by the United States, there is the "possibility" of a "new
Nakba" in Israel, referring to the "catastrophe" in 1948 when 800,000
Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes during the formation of
Israel. Now, the roughly one million Palestinian Israelis "are targets" and
"we will only have ourselves to blame for not intervening in time" if they
are chased out.
The U.S. government could prevent a Nakba from occurring, but it is
unlikely to do so. The United States benefits from its support of Israel-it
"does not have an ally" in Israel, "but an instrument." Ghilan referred to a
"symbiotic relationship between the American military industrial complex and
the Israeli military entrepreneur establishment" in which the "United States
gives at least, apart from covert aid, $3.1 billion each year to Israel." Of
this money, contended Ghilan, the vast majority is used to acquire "American
planes, American military weaponry, American technology," and other
equipment, so that the money returns to the United States. U.S. companies
that produce military hardware profit tremendously. "As long as [this
relationship] exists, America will not drop Israel." This arrangement helps
to create employment, keep the dollar steady, and control Arab countries.
Ghilan discussed how Israel might proceed with a plan to expel
Palestinian citizens. Such a strategy would be similar to what occurred in
1948 and 1967. There would be a massacre of about 400 or 500
Palestinians-not thousands-committed in a "spectacular way," and horror
stories would be disseminated to encourage people to flee in fear. In a
similar way, the 1948 massacre at Deir Yassin of more than 100 Palestinians
by Jewish forces was "emblematic," and was used to frighten Palestinians.
Israel would also expel prominent leaders in order to undermine Palestinian
Ghilan evisions little Israeli resistance to such actions. He asserted
that the Zionist peace movement is "for peace when there's peace and for war
when there's war." This is why, he argued, Israeli peace activists have not
been very forceful in the past few weeks. Rather than becoming stronger when
there is a crisis-like the anti-Vietnam War peace movement-the opposite is
occurring. One Israeli told him that Israel should kill 3,000 Arabs and
then, perhaps, the Arabs would relent. Unfortunately, Ghilan said, 90
percent of Israelis will back the government's policies "like sheep." As is
typical in all societies, Israelis will be unlikely to pay much attention
until too many of their own people die. This pattern is even more evident in
a closed society like Israel.
Turning to the more radical, non-Zionist Israeli peace activists who all
along have raised concerns about Oslo, Ghilan said that he has "no
illusions" about a "merry future," yet there are "small voices" from this
community arguing their views on the Internet. Because the media is
"pro-Israeli," particularly in the United States, "we [more radical peace
activists] don't exist because they don't want us to exist." Still, "there
is a future for people like us," but it will take a lot of blood before
people say, "'yeah, you were right,'" and express regret that they had not
The above text is based on remarks delivered on 26 October 2000 by Maxim
Ghilan, director of the International Jewish Peace Union and founder and
editor of the Israel and Palestine Political Report. His views do not
necessarily reflect those of the Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine or
The Jerusalem Fund. This "For the Record" was written by CPAP Publications
Manager Wendy Lehman; it may be used without permission but with proper
attribution to the Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine.
ININ List Archives Found Here: http://www.egroups.com/messages/inin
To subscribe to ININ please e-mail majordomo@...
In the body of the message type in: "subscribe inin-net" (without the
To unsubscribe from ININ please e-mail majordomo@...
In the body of the message type in: "unsubscribe inin-net" (without the
CANADA'S ONLINE ISLAMIC BOOKSTORE: HTTP://WWW.ISLAMICBOOKSCANADA.COM
ISLAMIC NEWS AND INFORMATION NETWORK: HTTP://WWW.ININ.NET