becomes part of life
Charles A. Radin, Globe Staff, 9/28/2003
Bank -- The Ibrahim al Khalil glassworks has lost 40 percent of
its business since Palestinians and Israelis began their latest
war, even though the Natche family, which owns the century-old firm,
has sharply cut prices for its deep-blue, free-form vases and pitchers.
Israeli and Palestinian businesses and families have suffered similar
losses since the intifadah, the Palestinian uprising, broke
out three years ago tomorrow. Many on both sides, like the Natches,
say they have gotten used to it. What was shocking and brutal three
years ago has become an accepted part of life. People have adjusted.
occurred on the ground in the third year of the struggle -- Israel's
construction of a large-scale security barrier, the extremist group
Hamas's dramatic rise in popularity, Yasser Arafat's return to a
central role, and Washington's swift end to its briefly revived
In the main,
Palestinians and Israelis say, these changes have encouraged the
get-used-to-it environment that now prevails, for each development
moved the situation farther from resolution and contributed to a
general collapse of hope.
is better than last year,'' says Salah al-Natche, a 22-year-old
glassblower and manager who looks twice his age. ''The last five
months were better than the five months before that. . . . Life
is not more secure; it is less secure. But people get accustomed
to the situation.''
wholesalers with contacts in Israel have learned how to get the
Natches' goods through the network of checkpoints and fences erected
by Israelis trying to keep out suicide bombers. Visits by foreign
tourists to Israeli hotels in August were down 35 percent from the
month before the violence started, but were up 74 percent from last
year. People on both sides have started to spend a little more freely.
uprising that began Sept. 29, 2000, is radically different in character
from the first intifadah, which lasted from 1987 until 1993 -- so
much so, many Palestinians and most Israelis say, that it is incorrect
to call it an intifadah, a spontaneous, grass-roots movement. The
current struggle was a top-down initiative from the Palestinian
leadership, which made a deliberate decision to use military means
in place of the stone throwing that characterized the previous struggle.
of dead, 795 Israelis and 2,367 Palestinians as of Friday, according
to the nonpartisan human-rights organization B'Tselem, are much
higher. The 1-to-3 ratio of Israeli to Palestinian deaths -- referred
to on both sides as the balance of blood -- has narrowed from the
1-to-6 ration of the first intifadah, helping to produce a massive
consensus in Israel for the internationally controversial barrier
has not returned to the streets of Jerusalem or Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv's
largest suburb, and it is not likely to as long as the threat of
terrorist bombings hangs over the cities. Commerce among Palestinians
and between them and the Israelis remains deeply constricted by
limitations on Palestinian freedom of movement imposed by Israel
in an effort to obstruct the bombers.
we had in the beginning have faded,'' said Danny Goldstein, 39,
who runs a candy shop with his father in the center of Ramat Gan.
''When the terror attacks started, we used to close down to listen
to the news. Now we just listen in -- 10 dead, 12 dead -- and keep
Leon, 65, who brought his family to Israel from Cordoba, Argentina,
in 1976, added: ''I have got used to it. . . . Tolerance, the capacity
to hang in there, is practically unlimited. I saw worse than this
walking with my children . . . in Argentina.''
a professor of political psychology and a fellow at the Institute
for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya, said the Israelis and Palestinians
who say they have adjusted are not just putting on a brave face;
such adjustments would be made in any society under such stress.
get used to it in the sense that they feel `Oh, it's not so bad,'
'' Kimhi said. ''They say `Yes, it is bad, we are afraid, people
are getting hurt, but we have to get on with our lives.' It is a
coping strategy, a normal one.''
-- more than $1 billion for trenches, fences, walls, and sensors
-- ''is Israel's answer to all of the Palestinians' protests and
aspirations,'' said Jamal Juma', a leading campaigner against the
project. ''It is a wall in the heart'' and, if completed, it will
make establishment of a viable Palestinian state impossible, Juma'
said, laying a foundation for struggle and hatred to continue.
factors are the rise of Hamas, which is implacably opposed to Israel's
existence, and the return of Arafat, the longtime Palestinian leader,
to center stage when both Israel and the United States refuse to
deal with him because of his support of the violence. These two
developments are intertwined: Hamas's popularity is based at least
in part on its freedom from the corruption of Arafat's regime and
its delivery of quality social services.
If the uprising
''had started one year later, it would have been against Arafat,''
said Yussef al-Kashkish, 39, a physical education teacher and poultry
merchant in Halhul, near Hebron. ''That would have been better.
There would not have been so much bloodshed.''
Just a few
weeks ago, Arafat's popularity was at a low. Many Palestinians were
complaining openly that his decision to lead them into armed struggle
had brought economic ruin and no political gains. And he had just
forced the resignation of reformist Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas,
antagonizing the many European and American leaders sympathetic
to Palestinian statehood.
security Cabinet voted to ''remove'' the longtime Palestinian leader.
Some top officials said killing him was a possibility. At home and
abroad, many who had been fed up with Arafat rallied to his defense.
politics are stalemated, with would-be reformers and Arafat loyalists
locked in fierce internal battles over the formation of a new government
under prime minister-designate Ahmed Qurei.
On the Israeli
side, friction among leaders is high and the country appears on
the verge of major strikes because of budget cuts from the costs
of the struggle.
chaos in politics,'' said Natche, the glass blower. ''The two sides
feel the same way.''
and Palestinian children say they cannot recall a time when there
was no violence.
''I feel like
it is part of our lives,'' Karen Shemesh, 12, a poised, thoughtful
Israeli seventh-grader, said outside her school in Ramat Gan. ''There
were a couple of times it was silent, but it always starts up again.
It is very sad, very difficult to grow up like this.''
Tom Lev, a
fifth-grader, said he does not remember a time without bombings.
''This is the way it is going to be,'' he said, ''until we hit them
really hard and they learn not to mess with us.''
9, a red-headed Hebronite with a ready smile, sat near the ruins
of a cousin's house that was demolished by the Israeli military
when a Hamas militant fired at soldiers from inside. He criticized
the uprising in terms that illustrated how much the violence was
part of his reality.
is not good,'' he said. ''The house is destroyed, the roads are
closed, we cannot go to Jerusalem, or to the sea.''
schoolmates who throw stones at the Israelis because ''that won't
kill them,'' and said he was not interested in being a suicide bomber:
''I want to shoot them and escape, and stay alive and play with
Many on both
sides say that with such attitudes planted in the youths of both
sides, the only hope is for new leadership.
change until Arafat or Sharon goes,'' Kashkish, the physical-education
teacher, said of the Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
37, an aircraft engineer who lives in Petah Tikvah, on Israel's
coastal plain, said: ''There must be a change in concept,'' because
force has failed for both sides. ''We need [Yitzhak] Rabin,'' he
said, referring to the Israeli prime minister assassinated by an
Israeli who opposed the Oslo peace process. ''Until then the security
situation will be business as usual. They kill us, we kill them.''
2003 Globe Newspaper Company.