The Palestinian Authority and the manufacturing of rage

For many Jerusalemites, the PA's latest "call for rage" is little more than a desperate attempt to stay relevant.

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    US President Donald Trump and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas shake hands as they conclude their remarks after their meeting Bethlehem, May 23, 2017 [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]
    US President Donald Trump and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas shake hands as they conclude their remarks after their meeting Bethlehem, May 23, 2017 [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

    The news cycle, political statements, and protests around Jerusalem over the past few days felt a bit off. As a resident of Jerusalem, I do not feel the genuine emotion of anger that would usually accompany such a media circus.

    Earlier this week, news outlets went all out, prophesying riots, blood, further regional instability or even war if Donald Trump were to announce Jerusalem the capital of Israel. Political leaders globally expressed a similar sentiment in their opposition to Trump's announcement, warning that it would "plunge the region into further endless crisis". The Palestinian Authority (PA), joined by most Palestinian political factions, declared "days of rage" if Trump were to go ahead with his announcement.

    To those of us on the ground in Jerusalem, this rage felt like it was being manufactured top-down. Everyone else is predicting that the situation in Jerusalem will worsen; as if we were all okay yesterday. This made me think of all the raging international voices as unaware of the violent reality Jerusalemites suffer on a daily basis in a city that Israel has unilaterally acted upon as its capital for a long time.

    Palestinian Jerusalemites are suffocating, and that is why most of them do not share the angst of other national and international voices. We live under systematic and institutionalised violence where our schools get tear gassed, children are arrested, homes get demolished, neighbourhoods are neglected, culture is suppressed, and "residency permits" confiscated at any moment the occupying Israeli authorities wish to do so.

    What Donald Trump accomplished with his announcement on Jerusalem is exposing the Israeli-Palestinian 'peace process' as what it truly is, a sham.

     

    Back in July, when Israeli authorities attempted to impose humiliating security measures at the gates of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the Palestinians rose to protest and organised from the bottom-up. The organising force behind the well-sustained protests was purely community driven and rejected attempts of co-option by the Palestinian Authority or the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf.

    At the heart of this manufactured rage is a panicking Palestinian Authority that can undoubtedly see its thin veil of legitimacy slipping away. What Donald Trump accomplished with his announcement on Jerusalem is exposing the Israeli-Palestinian "peace process" as what it truly is, a sham.

    In the modern history of Palestine, there had never been a Palestinian leadership more willing to compromise for the sake of achieving some sort of independent Palestinian State as this current Palestinian leadership headed by Mahmoud Abbas. Yet, despite every sign of non-cooperation, stubbornness, and continued violation of international law by the Israeli government, the myth of the "peace process" survived, thanks to the Palestinian Authority. It is, after all, the main reason it exists.

    When the peace process fails, the Palestinian Authority loses the purpose that justifies its continued existence. This would cause panic, and subsequently explains the manufactured nature of the current wave of "rage".

    We, the Palestinians, have put all our eggs in one basket, the American basket, despite all signs and indications advising us against doing so. It was an ill-thought-out gamble by the leadership, a gamble that is clearly unravelling with Donald Trump's administration.

    Trump is not a stable man, nor is he fit for taking the lead on such an issue of grand scale. The signs are there, whether it's Donald Trump's warm relationship with billionaire supporter Sheldon Adelson, or Jared Kushner cosying up to major Democratic Party donor Haim Saban, who share a similar agenda on Israel. 

    During his visit to Bethlehem last May, Trump allegedly shouted at Abbas "You tricked me in [Washington] DC! You talked there about your commitment to peace, but the Israelis showed me your involvement in incitement [against Israel]." For the Palestinians, this was a red flag, evidence of how easily the US president can be manipulated by Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu.

    Palestinian political leaders' hasty calls for rage, protests, and Intifada are unconvincing. Many see those calls as an attempt to cover the failure of the Palestinian Authority, others see it as the leadership attempting to extend its lifeline and recreate some sort of legitimacy to justify its continued existence.

     

    Last July, during the al-Aqsa compound protests, I saw people from all wakes of life, practising Muslims, non-practising Muslims, and Christians, taking part in directly protesting the closure of al-Aqsa. There was an extraordinary spirit of unity among Jerusalemites, and the anger felt true, honest and full of life. I fail to see that same spirit reflected on the streets in today's anger protests.

    Palestinian political leaders' hasty calls for rage, protests, and Intifada are unconvincing. Many see those calls as an attempt to cover the failure of the Palestinian Authority, others see it as the leadership attempting to extend its lifeline and recreate some sort of legitimacy to justify its continued existence.

    If there is any remaining interest for a two-state solution in Palestine, a global - especially European - firm recognition of a 1967-border Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as capital - could be that lifeline for the Palestinian Authority. If that does not happen, then the remaining two paths are both equally murky.

    One would be the acceptance of the status quo, meaning Palestinians continue to suffocate, suffer, and perish without any hope for major change. The other would be the Palestinian Authority declaring itself obsolete and out-of-function, leaving the Israeli occupying power fully responsible for the occupied Palestinian population in accordance with international law.

    We are walking into this "wave of rage" blind, craving any light that we can cling to in this gloomy tunnel. For too long, we Palestinians have managed to exaggerate minor scenarios, looked only at the positive aspects, and allowed ourselves to become very hopeful. Today, we do not know what is going to happen next. We are scared and quickly losing hope.

    The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.


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