Words have consequences. They can start a movement, and they can start a riot. Words can bring us together for mutual benefit, or they can divide us for rancor and pain. So I take seriously words like “Intifada” or anything that brings to mind similar suffering. The First Intifada, a Palestinian uprising beginning in 1987, ended in over a dozen dead Israelis and hundreds of dead Palestinians. The Second Intifada, starting in 2000, ended with 1,000 dead Israelis and 3,000 dead Palestinians. So when we hear a call for another Intifada, the first image we think of must be blood. Calling for an Intifada is calling for bloodshed, for shootings, for frantic runs to bomb shelters and children who become “collateral damage.” It’s a serious word.
And it’s exactly the word that UT’s Palestine Solidarity Committee used to promote a planned protest at the Israeli consulate in Houston. The PSC, in its solidarity with those extremist Palestinians who are stabbing Israelis, is all but calling for armed conflict. The phrase, “Long Live the Intifada!” leaves no doubt to its implications: terrorist attacks, blood, killing Jews. Such language is irresponsible at best, and at worst, condones attacks on innocent Israeli civilians and bombings of the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
It’s impossible to only call for part of an Intifada. If it were possible to only call for the part where legitimate grievances are aired, it would be completely appropriate. Frankly, the Palestinian people go through immense hardships every day, from the encroachment of hard-line settlers to the utter lack of economic opportunity in Gaza and deserve international support. But when the PSC calls for an Intifada, it also calls for Israeli limbs splattered on café walls.
It is also impossible to only call for the half of an Intifada where Palestinians kill Israelis. Calling for an Intifada inevitably leads to the retaliation of the Israeli Defense Forces. Israel has every right and obligation to defend its citizens from terrorist attacks. As an aside, the security barriers that harm the Palestinian economy the most were enacted in response to terrorism. Calling for an Intifada means civilian casualties, Israeli shopkeepers blown up while working, children in the West Bank orphaned. “Long Live the Intifada!” always means Israeli deaths, always means Palestinian deaths and always means terrorism.
It doesn’t have to be that way. The closest the world has been to Israel and Palestine both having sovereign, recognized nations has not been during war. It has been during peace, during negotiation. So I offer, on behalf of Texans for Israel, an alternative. We will be holding a candlelight vigil for victims of terrorism on West Mall from 7–9 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 10. This is not a vigil for only Israelis but all victims of terrorist attacks. It’s for Nahmia Lavi, shot by a Palestinian extremist. It’s for Ali Saad Dawabsheh, a baby burned to death by an Israeli extremist. For everyone who has died from terrorist attacks, we hold this vigil. Instead of calling for the deaths of thousands more, let’s join together to remember those who have died unjustly and demand that no one else is killed.
Taper is a Plan II and government freshman from Dallas.