Iron fist tactics have kept Palestinians down for the last decade, and there’s a strong chance that the harsh measures Netanyahu just outlined will succeed in putting them down again.
Those who oppose Israel’s iron fist tactics against violent Palestinian resistance argue, as a rule, that it’s impractical, it won’t work, you can’t repress a nation forever, and the only solution is to end the injustice that provokes the violence. But this is a sentimental view that comes, I think, from a need to believe that justice always wins in the end. The fact is that Israeli iron fist tactics have worked pretty damn well in keeping the Palestinians down over the last decade, and there’s a very strong chance that the tactics Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laid out Tuesday night – overwhelming armed force, house demolitions, draconian punishments for rioters and their parents, and more – will work again this time.
The iron fist put down the Second Intifada in 2004/5, and Israel has enjoyed remarkable quiet from the West Bank since then, also from East Jerusalem until this summer. A crucial difference between the first two intifadas and the current violence is that those earlier upheavals were organized; this one isn’t, which makes it much easier for Israel to overcome.
The iron fist has also worked in Gaza since Operation Cast Lead nearly six years ago. Israel has had to “mow the lawn” twice more since then, most recently over the summer, but otherwise the Palestinians in the Strip have been largely harmless in their cage.
What are the chances that this time around, Palestinian resistance will force Israel to begin reversing course, with an eye toward ending the occupation? I think they’re extremely slim. Even though it’s true that the First Intifada led to the Oslo Accords and the Second Intifada led to the disengagement from Gaza, those were different times in a different Israel.
Before Oslo, Israel had never tried negotiating peace with the Palestinians, so Israelis were ready to take a chance. Before disengagement, Israel had never tried unilateral withdrawal from occupied Palestinian territory, so Israelis were ready to give that a try, at least behind the broad back of Ariel Sharon.
But the bus bombings of the early 2000s ended Israelis’ belief in negotiations, then the rocketing from Gaza in...Read More