Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Riots in Jerusalem

At the moment, the third day into the troubles here in Jerusalem, it doesn't look like the outbreak of a third Intifada. The Palestinians know about our holidays as we know about theirs, and they're stirring up some drama; next week the numbers of Jews visiting the Western Wall will drop back to normal, and the Palestinian inciters will calm down, I expect. (Though I've been wrong before).

It's interesting and important to note that one of the most important Palestinian men doing the incitement, is Ra'ed Salah.
Salah told Haaretz on Monday that the clashes would last as long as
Israel's "occupation" of the city and Al-Aqsa Mosque continued. He said the
Israeli government must understand that using force does not grant it rights to
Al-Aqsa Mosque or anywhere else in East Jerusalem, and that the key to achieving
calm in the area is an Israeli "withdrawal." "No one has rights to the Al-Aqsa
Mosque other than the Muslims. The mosque compound is Muslim, Palestinian and
Arab, and Israel has no rights to the mosque or East Jerusalem,"
he said. Salah
has been prohibited from entering the Temple Mount area for several months, and
has been staying at a nearby residence while following developments. The Islamic
Movement leader reiterated his call for Arabs within Israel's Green Line and in
Jerusalem to protest beside the mount to "protect Al-Aqsa from the infiltration
of extremist Jewish elements." (My italics)
Salah, in case you don't recognize his name, is an Israeli Arab. He holds Israeli citizenship, most of his followers are Israelis, and he doesn't live under occupation. Not unless you think that any Jewish sovereignty is occupation, or that the Jews have absolutely no claim to this land whatsoever. Which of course is precisely what Ra'ed Salah thinks, and publicly says.


Victor said...

Arabs don't riot without a reason, ever. They are not an impulsive, individualistic society, and they have never self-organized this way in an organic fashion. Every social act is communal, and in dealings with Israel, every communal act is political.

The riots are being launched for a reason. A call to the entire Muslim/Arab world to protect al Aksa is a very emotional and newsworthy event. What is Abbas hiding that he needed this kind of high visibility cover?

Let's put it like this... when did Arafat use terror? When Israel was in serious negotiations with Palestinians he used the terror element to strengthen his negotiating position.

Something is going on. It's very possible Netanyahu is negotiating with Fatah, or maybe elements of Fatah and even Hamas. Something is going on that is big enough that Abbas needed to distract the entire Arab world and strengthen his hand in the negotiations by demonstrating that he can make Israel uncomfortable.

Victor said...

I ended up writing a bit more for a different blog post. Here's the rest...

When confronted with such a negotiating style, the emotional response - which generally typifies the Jewish response (though not the Israeli negotiating response) - is respond forcefully by cracking down on the demonstrators, mass arrests, calling off negotiations, creating our own provocations and so on. Each of these options may satisfy some desire to punish the Arabs for their hostility, but it only plays into the hands of provocateurs who initiated the disturbances in the first place.

If Israel forcefully puts down demonstrators, this makes for great reporting on al Jazeera, encourages further disturbances (which only Abbas will be able to put down, we will be told, thus strengthening him), and gives the Arab side an excuse to end negotiations should they not proceed as they wish. The Arabs understand us well - not because they understand Jews well - but because they are inherently more sophisticated social communicators.

The only way to deal with this situation is first to identify the parties involved, and to outline their intended goals. Second, assuming those goals are not in concert with ours - and they are not - they need to be undermined in a sophisticated fashion which takes into account both the physical and emotional (media) dimension, understanding that the Arabs are inherently superior in this.

What would I recommend? The strength of an Arab man is not wisdom or intellect, but honor - not Western-style chivalry, more communal, tribal honor. In other words, honor is a reflection of communal respect and status. Humiliation, then, is the lack of honor. You can humiliate an Arab man in two ways, as far as I know - through unmitigated force which demonstrates his complete helplessness and, more effectively in this case, through ridicule.

Were I to be a strategist in the Israeli Police counter-demonstration force, I would immediately place an order for several hundred thousand water balloons and Nerf footballs - in rainbow colors - and start handing them out to the demonstrators, along with Gatorade water bottles and those oversize fluffy hands people wear at basketball games. Instead of batons, I would hand out those long noodle sticks that kids use as flotation devices in pools to the Israeli Police, and bring in loudspeakers to play some clown music - maybe even to invite some professional clowns, put up a cotton candy machine and start taking orders, set up a Nintendo Wii mobile station, an HDTV room for watching soccer games.

Will this work? It's worth a shot. I can tell you that the scenes beamed to Arabs around the Middle East on al Jazeera will be priceless. Imagine the ubiquitous, breathless al Jazeera correspondent... "The occupation forces have pushed us back to Damascus gate. Our fighters are promising to resist until their wives call them to dinner and... wait, what's this?! We are under assault! The Israeli Police have begun what appears to be artillery bombardment! *Nearby Splash* Water balloons? Are those clowns charging at us with oversize safety scissors? *Commotion in background* Do I want some cotton candy? No! We are covering an important event of the resistance! *More talking in background* Do they have bubblegum flavor? Ok get me two of those, and peanut M&Ms... I won't pay for the regular, I want peanut. 8 Sheckels, is he crazy? I'll give him 5... ok, 6, but that's as far as I go."

annie said...

Update: Raed Salah, Head of Islamic Movement arrested for incitement.

Anonymous said...

Victor- sounds like you've read Dean Ing's 80s book: 'Soft Targets'. Him and you think alike some ways.

I'd like to see it tried.


Victor said...

Bruce, I haven't read it, but I did just check it out on amazon.

Here's an update...

It appears more clear today what likely occurred. The PA was about to forward the Goldstone report, which accuses Israel of war crimes in Gaza, to the Security Council.

Someone in the Israeli government got on the phone with Abbas and told him that should he forward this report anywhere except a trash bin, Israel will make it well known exactly the intelligence it received from officials within the PA during the Gaza war - including PA spies in Gaza - which enabled Israel to conduct pinpoint strikes against Hamas targets. Let's remember that the PA was deeply invested - politically and militarily - in the defeat of Hamas at the hands of the IDF.

Once Abbas heard that he and the entire PA aristocracy were to be exposed in front of the world for first cheering Israel on and then accusing it of war crimes, he quickly remembered that al Aqsa Mosque was under attack by the Jews, and felt he should encourage certain elements, shall we say, to publicize this assertion on the streets of Jerusalem, preferably in front of cameras. If cameras don't come right away, Abbas urged, just start throwing rocks at Jews praying by the Wall; that always seems to work....

My recommendation - water balloons and Nerf balls - stands.