On the Prospect of “Simultaneous Uprisings” in Israel-Palestine

Matan Kaminer writes about this entity called “the ruling class,” which sounds vague but evocative enough, that has

an amazing capacity to use crisis situations to further profits and consolidate power… But the phoenix-like ability of capital to rise from its own ashes has a limit, which can be defined precisely as the revolutionary situation. [emphasis mine]

Kaminer applies the idea of a threshold beyond which the prospect of a real uprising is no longer academic and situates it on the land between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean: “the most obvious answer would be a Palestinian uprising — a Third Intifada.” Yet he adds that such an answer would be fruitless. However, the occupied territories “are not completely quiescent.” Kaminer explains,

Villages impacted by the Separation Wall [called the security fence by Israeli officials] have mounted a patient, intelligent and ethically disciplined struggle and have drawn sustained solidarity activity from Israeli and international activist groups. Over the last year, sporadic demonstrations have been held against the PA [Palestinian Authority] in the West Bank, protesting corruption and President Abbas’ collusion with the occupation. Most recently, Palestinian activists founded the “outpost” of Bab Al-Shams [Gate of the Sun] in a creative response to Netanyahu’s declared intention to build in the E1 area to the east of Jerusalem. The winds of liberation are still blowing across the Middle East, veterans of the First Intifada are still alive and active, and the establishment would be wise not to rule out the possibility of a large-scale popular uprising. [italics and interpolations mine]

Hopefully, the tactics of the Second Intifada, such as the hideous suicide bombings of civilian targets, will not be repeated. Not only were such methods immoral, they were politically stupid. The so-called international community is on the side of Palestinians up until the point that militants go on buses and blow them up or detonate themselves in cafés. Kaminer’s omission of the “veterans of the [Second]” uprising is instructive: they are all dead or in prison. In that light, given the balance of forces, any uprising would be totally crushed even if it were non-violent.

But when we look at the internal social dynamics of Israeli Jewish society, Kaminer finds another answer: the Mizrachi population, which forms “the bulk of Israel’s working class.” A full fifth of the total population is Arab, and the “Arab Jews” have more in common with them than either would like to admit, at least at present.

The widespread waves of public demonstrations that rocked the country in 2011 were hopeful, Kaminer adds: “At its best and most dangerous, the protest movement offers an opportunity for the consolidation of a cross-class coalition including both a contingent of young, middle-class people facing the possibility of impoverishment and those who are already staring poverty and homelessness in the face.”

The larger situation with the Palestinian nation is always the rub. “Israelis are still wired to close ranks whenever a ‘security threat’ looms,” he writes. And with a Palestinian minority within the pre-1967 borders that is ambivalent at best and disenfranchised at worst with respect to being citizens of a state that describes itself as Jewish, and not Israeli, this could be a bridge too far. “Are the chances [of revolution] slim?” Kaminer asks. He answers himself: “Very. Would the Israeli state know how to defuse such a situation if it were to come about? Quite probably.” Even with those critical qualifications, it is not impossible to imagine a joint Mizrachi-Palestinian movement that could spark something larger.

As always, what that something becomes is not yet foreseeable.


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