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I’ve seen this movie before. It’s called “Day of Rage.” And it’s not worth the price of admission.
The images of what may be yet another “intifada” in East Jerusalem are playing out on CNN and the BBC right now as hundreds of Palestinians take to the street to protest what appears to be yet another collapse in talks aimed at trying to breathe life back into the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
This time the street violence was ostensibly touched off by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to go forward with construction of more housing units in a Jewish settlement on the fringe of East Jerusalem. Netanyahu’s cabinet minister announced the settlement expansion just as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Jerusalem for a visit. It wasn’t exactly good timing and Washington is in the process of scolding Netanyahu and his government for its behavior.
The street violence that is erupting today appears to be as fully rehearsed and purely political as earlier eruptions of violence. The so-called "Day of Rage" was called for by the Hamas leadership within the Palestinian parliament in Gaza. But if history is a guide; these staged beginnings can lead to a cycle of violence that consistently produces more killing of Palestinians and Israelis.
There was the first intifada in the late 1980s, which led to an escalation of violence that seems almost quaint compared to the second intifada, which erupted in the fall of 2000. And every time the scenes and the actors and the plot lines and the tragedy seems the same. The civilians always get caught in the middle.
Here is the screenplay:
There is the opening scene. Burning tires and garbage bins set ablaze by Palestinian youths who’ve been marshaled into action by the Palestinian political leadership.
Through the acrid smoke, watch the rocks fly as Palestinian youths re-enact the first “intifada,” or “uprising,” of the late 1980s against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
Cut to the Israeli Defense Forces heavily armed and in riot gear as they set up their positions and begin firing tear gas then so-called “rubber bullets,” which are like musket balls cased in plastic and which can kill people. Then as the rage continues, the live rounds are not far behind.
The peace talks fall apart once again amid all the violence and years are lost for the silent majority of both Palestinians and Israelis who just want to get on with their lives.