One cartoon circulating on social networks on Thursday depicted a car as the barrel of an automatic weapon, captioned in Arabic, “Revolt and resist, even by your car.” Another showed an odometer with the slogan, “Oh, revolutionary, use more gasoline, so we can have Palestine back.” A third simply had a vehicle in the red, white and green of the Palestinian flag hitting two men with Jewish stars on their black hats.
The new campaign called for a “run-over intifada,” apparently inspired by episodes Wednesday and last month in which Palestinian drivers plowed into Israeli pedestrians, killing three and injuring more than 20. It intensified discussion of whether the violence that has gripped East Jerusalem in recent weeks, fueled by a struggle over a site in the Old City sacred to both Jews and Muslims, amounted to a third intifada, or uprising, by Palestinians against the Israeli occupation.
Most Israeli and Palestinian leaders and commentators deny there is a new intifada, because the current unrest lacks the coordinated leadership, momentum and mass participation of the stone-throwing protests of the late 1980s or the suicide bombings of the early 2000s. But others say the whole question of whether it is or is not an intifada distracts from the roots and dynamics of a new generation’s rage and hopelessness.
“We are sometimes using the tools of the 20th century to analyze a phenomenon of the 21st century,” said Shimrit Meir, the Israeli editor of an Arabic news site, The Source, who monitors Palestinian social media. “The way I see it is kind of a postmodern intifada. So we might see periods of intense violence followed by long periods of containment and calm.”
The literal meaning of intifada is “shaking off.” Khalil Shikaki, a Palestinian political scientist, defined it as a way “to reject the status quo and to seek to change it through concrete and meaningful steps,” and he said it has come to stand for “a history-making event, a turning point.”