As a Palestinian Christian, I’m often asked in reference to the Arab Spring: “With all that is happening, where is the ‘Palestinian Spring’? Why hasn’t the revolution bug bit the Palestinian people yet?”
These questions are mostly asked by individuals who are not necessarily naïve of the situation or critical of the Palestinians, but are genuinely excited and inspired by what they see taking place in countries such as Egypt, Yemen, and Tunisia. They assume that if the Palestinians engage in a once-and-for-all popular, nonviolent revolution, then the Israeli occupation of Palestine will end and peace will prevail.
This anticipation of a quick “Palestinian Spring” comes in light of how the revolutions across the Middle East have come to be without expectation or prediction—as if they were a set of dominos placed one after the other. The main issue with the Palestinian resistance and independence movement is that, when it comes to the Israeli occupation, we are playing an entirely different game: not dominos, but more like chess. The problem with our particular chess match is that the pieces on both sides are different, and the way the game is played by the two parties is also different.
In traditional dictatorships, as exists in most Arab countries, ultimate power, and full control over all resources, lies in the hands of one person. The entire socio-political-economic system of the state hovers around the dictator, who holds the key to everything. When the population begins to break the barriers of fear and dependency on that one person—followed by the public sector, then the police and military—the entire system begins to collapse.