A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Nakba Day Clashes

The attempts to enter Israel yesterday from Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon and Syria in observance of Nakba Day have drawn a lot of attention. Most of the commentary I've seen centers on the rarity of clashes on the Golan, which are almost unheard of. Obviously, as Israel has suggested, Syria allowed this to happen; obviously too, the Syrians were no doubt seeking to divert attention from their internal difficulties.

But I think another much-discussed theme deserves attention: the extent to which this unusual Nakba Day protest is an outgrowth of Arab Spring. The marchers themselves are unarmed, forcing Israel to fire on them, and thus drawing attention to the moribund peace process. The two sides will of course perceive the event quite differently, but in the end, something new has entered the situation: a new tactic which is reminiscent of the Intifada, but from across borders. It could, however, have potentially explosive blowback.

No comments: