Is terror an option for the occupied and oppressed Palestinians?


My answer is “No” but I think the question needs to be asked. It was provoked in my mind by a recent Ynet op-ed article by Ziv Lenchner, described as a left-leaning, Jewish Israeli artist. The headline over his piece was Israelis to Obama – we don’t care, don’t bother us.


Lenchner’s article, published on 28 March, took the discussion about what most Israeli Jews really want – disengagement from the occupied West Bank or annexation – beyond the answer given by Noam Sheizaf writing in Maariv on 4 December last year. The headline over his piece was We have become addicted to the status quo.

Sheizaf wrote:

“A well-known cliché in Israeli political discourse refers to a high rate of support among the Jewish public for a two-state solution. As the claim goes, despite the Second Intifada and the rounds of fighting against Hamas in Gaza, most Jews still prefer this solution to the annexation of the Palestinian territories. Political scientists and journalists are thus consistently surprised as to why Israelis turn their backs on parties that espouse dividing the land and evacuating settlements, and choose to vote for those whose actions push a peace agreement further and further away. In a conference held at Tel Aviv University, a well-known researcher announced, ‘The Israeli public is simply not rational.’”

Sheizaf challenged that researcher’s judgement. His main point was that there is a third option which pollsters rarely ask about but which the Israeli public understands very well – the option of maintaining the current situation. He went on: “In the few cases in which this option is offered to respondents, it turns out that a growing number of Israelis prefer it to disengagement or annexation. Sometimes it even gets a majority.”

That fact, Sheizaf noted, discomforts many commentators and causes them to wonder if what most Israeli Jews really want is occupation and an apartheid state.

Sheizaf doesn’t believe that to be the case. In his analysis most Israelis simply believe that maintaining the status quo is better than the other options. He put it this way:

“Annexation of the territories will significantly alter the demographic balance and the character of the country while evacuating settlements and establishing a Palestinian state entails security risks and disputes that could lead to civil war. It’s not that the Jewish public is happy with the present situation or particularly wants to rule over the Palestinians - it just prefers this situation to the alternatives.”

There is, Sheizaf added, no one who understands the Israeli preference for maintaining the status quo better than Prime Minister Netanyahu “and therein lies his attraction.”

On the prospects for change in Israel, Sheizaf concluded with these thoughts:

They say that global climate change takes place at a pace slow enough for politicians to ignore it. The same can be said today for the occupation, and for the destructive processes it has brought upon the state of Israel. The deepening racism, rising corruption, militarism and loss of international legitimacy - all of these are happening slowly. At any given moment, the alternatives look worse and the desire for change lessens. Thus there is a growing sense that the state of Israel won’t be able to bring about the end of the occupation on its own, and will require serious pressure from outside in order to wean the public and the political establishment from its addiction to the status quo.

Lenchner took the discussion forward with these words:

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