Terra Incognita: The sky is falling (maybe)!

By SETH FRANTZMAN
March 1, 2011 22:54

Things are always ‘exploding’ or ‘ticking’ or ‘being pushed toward an uprising’ or ‘civil war’ in this country.




SETH J. FRANTZMAN

SETH J. FRANTZMAN NEW 58 NEW. (photo credit: Courtesy)

If this country were a coal mine, it would be full of canaries. The canary is, so we are told, especially sensitive to noxious gas, so when it stops singing, it means disaster is coming. There are lots of canaries here. They sing and sing, but they don’t stop. Consider what they sing about.

The coming Druse intifada. In 2009, a group of Druse protested outside the Prime Ministers Office. According to reports “Hamud Jabar, the head of a Druse regional council in northern Israel, warned in remarks to Ynet that if the demands presented on Sunday are not met, the Druse may launch an intifada of their own, similar to the Palestinian terrorist campaigns against Israel.”

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The Druse demanded cancellation of taxes, and complained of budgetary discrimination.

One sign read: “A Druse is as good as a Jew in war, but when it comes to budgets, 10 Druse children are equal to one Jewish child.”

But it was the same in 2007. In that year Haaretz ran a headline titled “A Druse intifada?” What prompted the accompanying article was an incident in Yirka in which a Jewish man, Ari Tal, appointed to run the local council, was abused and thrown out of the village, which was about NIS 68 million in debt. The reason was that only 14 percent of the residents paid taxes, and only 8% paid their electric bills. Yet the article noted that the village “has become one of the biggest shopping complexes in the North.”

As a message to the next person who might be appointed to run the village, a coffin was placed outside the municipality.

The statement was clear: let us run our own affairs, or else. The former council head, Rafik Salameh, claimed, “It’s impossible to protect him. And I fear that his arrival in the village will be the opening salvo of the Druse intifada.”

After riots in the Druse village of Peki’in in October 2007, more talk was heard about the coming “explosion.”

But it hasn’t happened, yet.

The imminent Negev Beduin uprising.

Because the government will not give the Negev Beduin some 800,000 dunams of land and won’t recognize their 50 illegally constructed villages there is, supposedly, an imminent danger they may rise up.

Most often in the news is the hamlet of al- Arakib – site of a few ramshackle structures that has become a hot spot in the Beduin squatting campaign. Month after month the Beduin settlers return, and month after month the Israel Lands Authority and police destroy the place.

MK Taleb a-Sanaa (United Arab List- Ta’al), who is a Beduin, claimed “the state is pushing its Beduin citizens to the point where they may launch a popular intifada, which will have severe results.”

In 2010 Haaretz noted: “It’s hard to understand why Israel is pushing a significant sector of its citizens toward extremism and crime.”

But we have heard it before. In 1998, Dr. Elie Rekhes of Tel Aviv University’s Program on Arab Policies warned The Jerusalem Post of a “Beduin intifada” unless urgent steps were taken. Am Johal reported on Antiwar.com in 2004 that people are “predicting a coming Beduin intifada.”

Muhammad Zeidan, head of the Arab Human Rights Association, noted “they are being pushed to do this.”

Max Marshall of the College of New Jersey called it “a ticking time bomb” in 2006. It’s still ticking, evidently.

The eventual boiling over of ‘mixed’ towns.

This is always a cause for concern. The “gentrification” or “Judaization” of Jaffa, Ramle, Haifa, Lod and Acre is always, supposedly, pushing people toward an intifada. Kenneth Bandler writing at The Jerusalem Post noted last year that MK Haneen Zoabi was warning of a “third Palestinian intifada... this time the uprising will come from within Israel.”

Similar things were heard in 2007, after rioting by Arabs and Jews in Acre on Yom Kippur. In 2002, Effi Oshaya of the Labor Party warned of an Israeli-Arab intifada in an interview with a publication called Let’s Talk Peace.

WHAT ELSE is boiling over? Well, Gaza and the West Bank, to be sure. East Jerusalem: Meir Margalit claimed in these pages that “the daily humiliation suffered by residents is reaching a boiling point, and it’s only a matter of time until a conflagration erupts... the Arabs of east Jerusalem have been humiliated and trampled upon for years. Here too, patience is running out.”

He titled his article, “The 10 plagues of east Jerusalem.” He had written a similar article for Occupation magazine in 2009.

Then it was: “Several moves have made their lives unbearable and – the most difficult to bear – they feel their honor is being trodden underfoot.”

AND LEBANON. Egypt. Jordan. Things are always “exploding” or “ticking” or “being pushed toward an uprising.” The haredim, are they on the brink too? What of the foreign workers? And who recalls now all the talk of a “civil war” with the settlers? Remember the insights about “radicalization,” “alienation” and the “wild weeds.”

And the radical academics and anti-Israel crazies – are they also being “pushed” toward an intifada? We might be lucky the government doesn’t care too much. It means that grievances aren’t being addressed, but it also means officials don’t run around as if the sky is falling trying to fix problems partly of their own making.

Maybe there will be intifadas, but there’s very little that can be done about it except to abandon the Negev to squatters, stop asking Druse villages to pay taxes or relinquish control of east Jerusalem. And that won’t happen.

In coal mines, the canaries stopped singing when an explosion was actually imminent. Too bad human prognosticators aren’t as reliable. The least they could do is be quiet, but that too won’t happen.

The writer has a PhD from Hebrew University, and is a fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies.


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