An Islamist Intifada
The current Palestinian Arab "uprising" against Israel appears to be a mostly Islamist offensive, not different in any significant ideological way from radical Islamist movements like ISIS, al-Qaeda, and Hezb'allah. The idea that it is motivated by Israeli policies, the stalled "peace process," or Palestinian Arab nationalism is nothing but propaganda, and the laziness and bias of the international press and political classes.
The violence is motivated by the Palestinian Authority's deliberate agitation , which knowingly taps into the Arab masses deep-seated hatred of Jews and other infidels. The Authority has a parochial interest in diverting the attention of the masses from its own corruption and incompetence. It also wants to insulate itself against its Hamas rival in Gaza, which correctly sees the Authority for the hapless and rotten organization it is and would replace it with an incompetent and corrupt Islamist entity in the West Bank.
What neither the Palestinian Authority nor Hamas wants is independence, having rejected every opportunity to create a viable Palestinian Arab state. The Authority, like all Palestinian Arab leadership since the 1930s, has rejected every opportunity to create a Palestinian state, despite claiming that purpose. Correspondingly, Gaza is already a wholly independent Palestinian territory, but Hamas also laughably still claims it is "occupied" by Israel. This patently idiotic assertion is nonetheless accepted as truth by the international left, many governments, and most likely the current occupant of the White House.
Still, Palestinian Arabs in the recent past have consistently played the nationalist card. The first and second Palestinian intifadas could be characterized as nationalist uprisings, at least to the extent that the stated motivations of Arab leadership and the masses was to end Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The name of the uprisings, "intifada," or "shaking off" in Arabic, suggested as much. Predictably, though the Palestinian Arabs succeeded in ending the occupations of Gaza and most of the West Bank, they rejected the fruits of victory.
The uprisings demonstrated the disingenuous nature of Palestinian nationalism. They furthered supposed Palestinian Arab national aspirations by intensifying international support of Palestinian goals and winning Israeli territorial concessions, but because of Palestinian disinterest in an actual state, these gains have led nowhere.
The result of the first intifada was the Oslo Accords, the withdrawal of the Israeli military from most populated parts of the West Bank, and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority. If the Palestinian Arabs had any real interest in ending the conflict with Israel and establishing a real national polity, this could have led to a state in the West Bank and Gaza. However, when Israel offered Yasser Arafat just that, accompanied by further Israeli territorial concessions, he rejected the offer and instead launched another intifada.
The second intifada was manufactured by Arafat, and also erupted over false claims of an Israeli violation of Arab sensitivities on the Jerusalem's Temple Mount. But with Arafat's guidance, it quickly adopted the rhetoric of nationalist occupation. The extreme violence of the second intifada, which cost Israel almost ten times the losses of the first intifada, also resulted in a tangible gain for the Palestinian Arabs: the abandonment of Israeli communities in Gaza and the Israeli military's full retreat from that enclave. When the Israelis departed, they intentionally left behind valuable infrastructure that the Palestinians could have used to build their nation. In addition, the international community lavished aid and investment on the newly independent territory, which might have tried to transform itself into an Arab Singapore.
But again, the Palestinian Arabs rejected the opportunity. They destroyed the abandoned Israeli infrastructure in typical self-destructive fits of "rage," embezzled hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of international aid, and launched a series of pathetic military offensives against Israel, designed to make their own people suffer.
Under Arafat's successor Mahmoud Abbas (who remains in charge of the Palestinian Authority in the tenth year of a four-year term), and later under Hamas (after they kicked Abbas and his Fatah Party out), the Palestinians have ludicrously continued to claim that Gaza is occupied.
What is most interesting about the current uprising is that the Palestinians appear to have mostly abandoned any pretense of fighting for a state, and instead have now fully joined the Islamist wave sweeping the Middle East. Other than Abbas's posturing, the violence is relatively leaderless, at least in terms of traditional Palestinian Arab political organizations, and driven by Islamist youth. This uprising, like the second intifada, was instigated by Abbas's repeated lies about Israeli actions and intentions regarding holy sites in Jerusalem. But it is persisting in that vein, as radicalized Palestinian Islamists attack Jews in the name of protecting Islam.
Thus, the current violence is less of a piece with the first and second intifadas as it is with the Arab revolts in Mandated Palestine during the 1930s. Those uprisings were religious, based also on supposed threats posed to Islamic holy sites, with little nationalist motivation. That's because in the 1930s there was no Palestinian national movement, there being no such thing as a Palestinian historically, ethnically, or culturally. To the extent there was any national element to the revolts, it was of the pan-Arab variety – a movement that has proven to be as chimeric as Palestinian nationalism.
In theory, the religious nature of this revolt should put "Palestine's" many supporters in the West in a more difficult position. The basis of Western support of Palestine, from the BDS movement to formal recognition to the "peace process," has been the idea that the conflict between Israel and the Arabs is nationalist, not religious. As a national conflict, the left and liberal Western governments take the side of the "indigenous" people (Palestinian Arabs), as opposed to the colonial occupiers (Israelis). But with Palestinians adopting the ideas of the most radical Islamists, this ought to challenge that narrative. And it reflects reality, because from the 1930s until today, there never has been an authentic Palestinian national movement, as opposed to a basically Islamist desire to rid the Middle East of its only non-Islamic polity.
Hamas has always been an assertively an Islamist organization, openly embracing terror; hostage-taking; public executions of infidels and heretics; and tyranny, both political and religious. But it also claims to want to vindicate Palestinian national aspirations, which allows some governments and leftists in general to ignore Hamas's Islamist nature and accept its partial self-depiction as a "resistance movement" to (nonexistent) Israeli occupation. Likewise, Hezb'allah, the Shia-Islamist terror organization, also self-depicts as a resistance movement to nonexistent Israel occupation (Israel having totally quit Lebanon over 15 years ago). This nationalist cover allows Western leftist politicians like Jeremy Corbyn (Britain's new Labor leader) to embrace these groups .
It has also allowed Western leaders like President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry to divorce the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict from the larger war on terror. They prefer to depict it as a local nationalist phenomenon, in which Israeli occupation – rather than Jews simply trying to live as Jews – drives Arab terror. So far, true to form, the White House and State Department are sticking with that story with the current violence, blaming Israel and the Palestinian Arabs equally, and willfully ignoring the facts of Abbas's incitement and the Islamist motivations of Arab murderers.
The history of phony Palestinian Arab nationalism inevitably has led back to this point, revealing the violence for what it is: a war against Jews, and ultimately against anybody else who refuses to submit.