There’s Nothing New About the Palestinian ‘Days of Rage’
Proof that the Palestinian leadership is out of ideas can be seen in how it came to label the protests regarding President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
I was expecting something stylish and original, like the “Embassy Intifada.” Yet in choosing “Days of Rage,” Palestinian leaders went with recycled hippie-rebellion propaganda, that is filched from an American left-wing terrorist group.
In October 1969, a faction of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) — known then as the “Weathermen” — scattered pamphlets all over Chicago calling for “Days of Rage” and promising to “Bring the War Home.” Three days of protesting, rioting and car burning ensued, shocking and surprising an American public already stunned by a decade of protests and political assassinations.
Palestinians, on the other hand, have been raging for decades.
In April of this year, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement called for a Day of Rage to support Marwan Barghouti and hundreds of other Palestinian terrorists waging a hunger strike in an Israeli prison. In July, Hamas called for a Day of Rage over the metal detectors installed at the Temple Mount to prevent the additional murders of Israeli police at the site. In 2015 Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad jointly called for a Day of Rage.
The Palestinian leadership could have had a state in 1947, in 2000 and again in 2008 — but in each case, it chose Rage. Palestinian leaders remain unwilling to recognize the right of Israel to exist, and are delusional about their power. On December 8, after leaving the Al-Aqsa Mosque after Friday prayers, a group marched on the Israeli capital, chanting “Jerusalem is ours, Jerusalem is our capital.”
In reality, the Palestinian Rage de jour looks a lot like the first intifada, when Palestinian leaders sent children out to throw rocks at Israeli soldiers. Sputtering though it may have been, this effort — like past Palestinian expression of “rage” — has brought them nothing but pain. In the current case, reports are that scores, perhaps hundreds, have been wounded — and two have been killed. The only Palestinians who benefitted from the “rage” were the ones selling American and Israeli flags.
Even Hamas’ rage seemed subdued, as just three rockets were launched from Gaza, only one of which came close enough for an Iron Dome missile to intercept and destroy it, before it could hit its intended target of Sderot. Compared to several days in 2014 when Hamas fired 300 missiles at Sderot, the 2017 Days of Rage look rather sedate.
These latest Days of Rage also represent a diminution in severity compared to the second intifada, which was characterized by suicide bombings, and was only defeated when Israel built a wall to keep the human smart bombs out.
The third Intifada, aka the “Knife Intifada,” has been carried out by Palestinians pretending to be shoppers and commuters, suddenly striking Israelis with knives, scissors — even screwdrivers. Effective policing and citizen vigilance is mitigating that threat. As always, Israelis move on while Palestinians are stuck in the past, attempting to renegotiate the Oslo Accords (1993), UN Resolution 181 (1947) and the Balfour Declaration (1917).
The Palestinians need to recognize that their “rage” has become a tired cliché, and that their leadership has become their worst enemy. Many are starting to understand this. Bassam Tawil points out that of the “nearly 300,000 Arabs living in Jerusalem … the vast majority did not take part in any of the small protests, which were staged deliberately as a show for the dozens of journalists who converged on the city.”
Any success that the Weathermen’s “Days of Rage” achieved was negated by a law enforcement backlash, forcing the group to “go underground.” Its violent debut, remembered by many who were of age as effective political theater, gave way to an era of sophomoric buffoonery. The newly-named Weather Underground’s most impressive deed was busting LSD guru Timothy Leary out of a California jail; its biggest bomb went off in a Greenwich Village townhouse, killing the two WUO members who were assembling it, and wounding two other members.
The Weather Underground came as close to its goal of overthrowing the US government as the Palestinian protestors did in making Jerusalem their capital, and not Israel’s.
If the Palestinians really want to improve their lives, they should emulate their Weathermen role models by retiring from raging, accepting reality and making the most of their lives. They could start political consulting firms like Jeff Jones, become Soros Justice Fellows like Linda Sue Evans, or pursue academic careers like Mark Rudd, Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn and Kathy Boudin.
Or they could continue the “rage” routine. But every day wasted dreaming of driving Jews into the sea weakens their chances of attaining a real state (though not necessarily their chances of scoring a Soros grant). Meanwhile more and more of the territory they desire becomes part of Israel.
A.J. Caschetta is a Shillman-Ginsburg fellow at the Middle East Forum and a senior lecturer at the Rochester Institute of Technology.