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Interview ::
INTIFADA: A word for the world
19 Apr 2004
Globalize the Intifada!
INTIFADA: A word for the world
Most often, due to the dominance of U.S. imperialism, English words are imposed on the world. Superman. Internet.

But there's one very important word that an oppressed nation, the Palestinians, have brought from Arabic to the rest of the world's languages: Intifada.

When the first Palestinian uprising broke out in 1987 against years of brutal treatment from the occupying Israeli police and army, intifada was the Arab word to describe it and began to be used interchangeably with uprising in the rest of the world.

But four to six years of the first Intifada, and now more than three of the second--or Al-Aqsa Intifada--have given it a particular meaning and a capital letter.

It has come to mean an uprising with deep roots in the population, an uprising of people who possess little in the way of weapons compared to the oppressor state and lots of courage and determination. Indeed, the first Intifada became identified with young people throwing stones at Israeli troops in tanks.

It also means a revolt that can die down for a while and then spring up again. In Palestine, there was relative quiet between the Oslo Accords in 1993 and Ariel Sharon's provocation at the Al-Aqsa mosque in the fall of 2000. But then the Intifada sprung up again. In this one, the Palestinians are still lightly armed compared to the U.S.-armed Israelis--a rifle against a helicopter gunship. But the struggle exhibits the same courage, the same willingness to sacrifice, the same deep support among the population fighting for national liberation.

Now it seems to have jumped to another country. With the jump, the word's meaning will also grow, but it will still fit.

The world watches on television as Iraqis armed with assault rifles go up against tanks, helicopters and planes with artillery, rockets and bombs. U.S. troops in armored cars wearing flak jackets face Iraqi youths in shirts and pants, standing in the streets and firing their weapons without cover.

There are more trained soldiers on the Iraqi side than in Palestine. Everyone seems to have weapons. But the courage, the depth of support, the anger against the oppressor is common.

During the siege of Falluja the world's think tanks made their pundit-like comments on the situation in Iraq. Jane's Information Group suggested that 500,000 U.S. and allied troops would be needed to repress the Iraqis. Stratfor suggested that the rising by the Mehdi Army would soon wear down.

But a spokesperson from the Cato Institute made the following comment: "What we're seeing now is the result of overstaying our welcome. What we [the U.S. occupiers] have now inherited, it seems, is our own version of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank--only with a much larger piece of real estate."

The word is already international. U.S. rulers now fear that the slogan, "globalize the Intifada," is becoming more of a reality.

Reprinted from the April 22, 2004, issue of Workers World newspaper
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