Palestinian Protesters To Upgrade To Rocks 2.0
Ramallah, Palestinian Territories (AP) – After more than two decades of relying primarily on the simple, handheld “rock” device to register displeasure with Israeli military rule, West Bank Palestinians plan to bring more sophisticated weapons to bear. The Rock 2.0 is expected to enter service in 2014.
The first Palestinian Intifada, or uprising, against Israeli occupation began in 1987, with local youths aiming simple rocks, and occasionally heavy weapons such as cinder blocks, at Israeli soldiers. For a time in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, Palestinian militants regularly resorted to explosives and guns in their conflict, but an Israeli military operation in 2002 sharply reduced the incidence of such attacks, and for the last several years the mainstay of the Palestinian protest movement has remained the reliable, affordable, easily obtainable rock.
But with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas forswearing violence in the struggle for independent statehood, protesters have often found themselves limited to non-lethal methods of resistance. Construction of the Separation Barrier, part of an Israeli system to block Palestinian entry into the pre-1967 lines except at controlled check points, saw almost perpetual protests amid Israeli appropriation of land for the purpose. Resistance methods ranged from shouting, shoving, and rock-throwing to flinging tear gas canisters back toward IDF forces and bodily impeding construction of the barrier. (The separately governed Gaza Strip, from which Israel withdrew its soldiers and settlements in 2005, never fully embraced the move to rock technology, preferring the fancier tools of mortars, roadside bombs, and missile. The Hamas movement, which runs Gaza, maintains that it needs the missiles to counter the dangerous Israeli buildup of Jews).
Barrier construction proceeded nevertheless, and Palestinian protesters sought a more advanced tool with which to resist Israeli military occupation. The result of that quest is Rock 2.0, which will allow protesters to continue their activities much as before, but with a cooler name for their principal tool.
Such revamping of nomenclature has served the Palestinian cause well over the years. The term “Resistance” itself has proved a successful term to employ in promoting the legitimacy of, and support for, indiscriminate attacks on Israelis, whether military or civilian. “Occupation,” itself a neutral term, was co-opted long ago to refer to the very existence of Israel. “Commando operation” now refers, in Arabic rhetoric, to the slaughter of Israeli civilians via suicide bombing, and “collective punishment” has proved especially useful in portraying anything Israel does to protect itself as a malicious, unnecessary burden on Palestinian civilians.
The euphemism phenomenon is not a strictly Palestinian venture. The New York Times long ago ceased referring to Palestinians who attack Israeli civilians as “terrorists,” preferring instead the more legitimate-sounding “militant.” The shift represented a public relations victory for the Palestinian use of violence, as it neatly avoids the implication that targeting noncombatants might be considered in a negative light.
Not only words have been co-opted for the purpose. Palestinian media and activists have often relabeled photos of women and children wounded in other conflicts, most notably in Syria, as occurring at the hands of Israeli soldiers. That tactic was perfected by the Lebanese Hezbollah organization, which staged multiple tragic images supposedly wrought by Israeli bombing in a 2006 war.
Hugh Femist, an expert on Middle East media, notes that the rhetorical manipulation extends beyond Israel’s conflict with its immediate neighbors. Teheran describes the Iranian nuclear program as for “civilian purposes,” a neat rebranding of the country’s pursuit of a weapon capable of destroying all Israeli civilians.
“But of course nothing competes with the convenience, for anti-Semites worldwide, of being able to substitute ‘Zionist’ for ‘Jew’ in all propaganda,” he added.
“It’s almost as nefarious as the term ‘Compassionate Conservative,'” he said.