by Apo Sahagian
Recently I’ve stopped calling the Second Intifada an intifada. Apparently, it was not an intifada, and calling the Second Intifada an intifada is an insult to the First Intifada- from now on known as the only Intifada. Get it?
I was convinced of this after talking with those figures who invigorated and carried the intifada on their shoulders, and by simply reading about the late 1980’s/early 1990’s intifada and the outbreak of violence during the early 2000’s. It actually is very simple: there was only one intifada in Palestinian history, and it surely was not what happened after September 2000.
The word intifada means ‘shaking off’ but is commonly used for uprising, resistance, or rebellion. Those who have the faintest idea of what transpired in the Intifada and what took place in the early 2000’s must come to bottom line conclusion that there is no comparison between the two to put them into the same intifada category. The two events are far apart in nature.
The participants themselves reject the comparison
Surprisingly, the whole world (political, social, and academic circles) have adopted the term Second Intifada for what happened in the early 2000’s; the whole world except for those few who were personally involved in the Intifada of the late 1980’s. They refuse to accept any connection between the two events and will rigorously defend their perspective. I was yelled at a few times for slipping out the phrase Second Intifada. In their vocabulary, they call the events of the early 2000’s “war” “violence” “stupidity”. Pick one.
I asked myself why they’d be insulted if the two events were called intifadas? Both were for the struggle for Palestinian freedom. But that’s where the similarities end apparently. Because while the late 1980’s witnessed the full mobilization of the Palestinian society through civil disobedience against the Israeli rule, the early 2000’s witnessed bloodshed instigated by hoodlums and militant gangs who had no clue to as what they were doing. They only thought a gun in the hand was a cool and best way to fight the Israelis. Hence, the warriors of the 1980’s do not want to be bundled up into the same group as the fighters of the 2000’s.
Nonviolent resistance, civil disobedience and social mobilization again?
This differentiation is important in current affairs since recently there has been talk about the upcoming ‘Third Intifada.’ This is misleading. There cannot be a ‘third’ intifada if there has never been a ‘second intifada’. However, this misperceived ‘third intifada’ will probably resemble the only Intifada of the late 1980’s - nonviolent resistance, civil disobedience, massive social mobilization, etc. Thus the wrongly labeled ‘third intifada’ – if it actually erupts - will have to be rightfully called the ‘second intifada’.
I do realize the argument put forth by me is revisionist and goes against the broader accepted terminology of the events that have transpired since the 2000s. But if the individuals who galvanized the Palestinian civil society in the late 1980’s agree with me - and insist themselves - that there has only been one intifada so far, I guess it is time for the world to give their argument a chance.