The Making of A Palestinian Uprising: Netanyahu Nurturing Hatred And Hostility Between
30 June 2014
Alon Ben-Meir - Jun 26, 2014
The abduction of three Israeli teenage boys is a
criminal act and hopefully the perpetrators will be
caught soon, face the full weight of the law and end
the heart wrenching ordeal of the boys' parents and
relatives. Yet regardless of who is responsible, Prime
Minister Netanyahu made matters much worse for both
Israelis and Palestinians. His sweepingly harsh
response has already led to more deaths and may
potentially lead to more abductions, if not an
outright Palestinian uprising.
It is legitimate for Israeli security forces to go
into the West Bank and investigate in an effort to
find the missing boys and capture the perpetrators,
especially when President Abbas demonstrated in words
and deeds his unreserved cooperation. Abbas condemned
the kidnapping, not just for Israeli and US ears but
also the Arab world, as he "delivered [his comments]
at a high-profile gathering of Muslim and Arab
officials in Saudi Arabia."
Instead of working diligently with Palestinian
internal security to demonstrate how the two sides can
fully cooperate on matters of security now and in the
future, Netanyahu sent his security forces on a
rampage throughout the West Bank. More than 1,150
locations were searched including charities, media
outlets and university campuses.
Around 400 Palestinians were arrested and more than
half are Hamas operatives and politicians. Netanyahu,
who vehemently rejected the Palestinian unity
government, seized upon the agonizing kidnapping to
play politics with the lives of three innocent
Instead of challenging Hamas to help in the search for
the missing teenagers to demonstrate their commitment
to the unity government, he immediately accused Hamas
as the "usual suspects" behind such a hideous crime
without producing any evidence.
The subsequent death of four Palestinians, the
youngest being only 15 years old who was killed while
throwing stones at Israeli soldiers, provoked massive
demonstrations during his funeral. This sad episode
has outraged the Palestinians and only deepened their
resentment and hatred of the Israelis, further
damaging the already deeply frayed bilateral relations
between the two sides.
Regardless of how wrong the Palestinians are and how
the extremists among them contribute to this sad state
of affairs, the vast majority who seek peace still
live a life of servitude, intolerable by any civilized
standard. Every Israeli of conscience should put
himself in the shoes of an ordinary Palestinian, who
wakes up in the morning feeling besieged and goes to
sleep trampled upon in his own home.
How absurd and cynical it is to maintain an occupation
for 47 years and expect the Palestinians to simply
obey and feel sanguine about it.How outrageous it is
to build new and expand existing settlements on
Palestinian land, robbing them of their dream to build
a state of their own, and then blame them for
harboring malice toward Israelis.
Why should any Palestinian feel compassion toward the
abducted teenagers when Israeli security forces
conduct night raids in private homes, often
unnecessary and unjustified, terrifying the young who
cower in fear? They witness with horror their father
or older brother being humiliated and violently
How could Netanyahu bolster restrictive and
discriminatory laws against the Palestinians, build
physical barriers and endless checkpoints, and make
their lives ever more miserable but then expect them
to take these abuses with equanimity?
Netanyahu, who claims to be the champion behind
Israel's security, is driven by blind ideology and
consistently acts in a manner that in fact is
dangerously eroding instead of enhancing Israel's
legitimate security concerns.
While Netanyahu professes to seek a two-state
solution, he spares no effort to undermine the peace
process in every which way possible. With typical
chutzpah, he insists that there is no partner with
whom to negotiate.
He accuses the Palestinians of being divided and
unable to uphold any agreement, but then he suspended
the peace negotiations because the Palestinians
created a unity government with Hamas that represents
all Palestinians in an effort to end their division.
In spite of the fact that the unity government
committed itself to the three Quartet principles
(recognizing Israel, honoring prior agreements, and
forsaking violence), Netanyahu argues that he will not
negotiate with any Palestinian government that
includes Hamas instead of giving it a chance to
demonstrate its commitment to peaceful negotiations.
Three years ago Netanyahu released 1,027 Palestinian
prisoners in exchange for one Israeli soldier. What
kind of message has he sent to the Palestinians and to
the whole world for that matter? One that says the
release of one Israeli captive is worth more than the
souls of over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.
How should the fathers and mothers of more than 5,000
incarcerated Palestinians, among them scores of
teenagers the same age as the kidnapped Israelis, feel
about their kids who are languishing in jail, many of
whom without being put on trial and with no end in
Why should there be any surprise if within a few weeks
or months the abductors of the Israeli youths demand
the exchange of their three captives in return for the
release of 3,000 Palestinian prisoners? Netanyahu
himself and no other is responsible for the
development of this unfortunate state of affairs.
Many Israelis, including members of Netanyahu's
coalition, are outraged by this brazen response to the
abduction of the Israeli teenagers. Friends of Israel
the world over are puzzled by his extraordinarily
brutal exploit with utter disregard for human rights.
Those who cheer Netanyahu's crackdown are severely
undermining Israel's future security and its place
among the nations. They must stop and think about how
the collective pain and punishment being inflicted on
the Palestinians will play out and why these
conditions could lead to a nightmarish explosion.
Netanyahu is simply incapable of grasping the
implications of his own actions because neither he nor
any of his cohorts know where Israel should be ten or
fifteen years down the line.
The question is, how can any leader lead his country
without a strategy that will take his people to the
intended destination? Netanyahu's strategy, if he has
one, is to torpedo the peace process and hope for some
miracle that somehow the Palestinians will just
If Netanyahu genuinely cares about the wellbeing of
the three teenagers, he must also demonstrate
sensitivity and empathy toward Palestinian youth to
cultivate trust and constructive neighborly relations.
Instead, he is nurturing hatred and hostility between
the next generation of Israelis and Palestinians, and
is condemning them to a cruel and violent future.
It is time for all Israelis to wake up and ask the
simple question – where are we heading – and demand a
clear and unequivocal answer from Netanyahu himself.
It is only a question of time when the Palestinians
will rise again, and though they would be crushed,
they have little left to lose and Israel's "victory"
will be its greatest defeat.
____________ Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international
relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He
teaches courses on international negotiation and
Middle Eastern studies. firstname.lastname@example.org Web: