This interesting piece from Foreign Policy examines "intifada," what it means literally, what it has meant in practice, and why making it a forbidden term is problematic.
"There has been too little clarity about the meaning and implications of the word intifada, though. It derives from the Arabic verb nafada, which means “to shake off,” in the sense of shaking dust off one’s clothes, say, or shaking off lethargy. The word intifada, then, literally translates as a “shudder” or “shiver,” or when used in a political context, a “popular uprising.” It does not mean genocide. The word intifada became familiar to newsreaders worldwide in 1987, when the term was used to describe a popular uprising mounted by Palestinians that year against Israel. That uprising, which lasted until the early 1990s and came to be known as the First Intifada, began as a largely peaceful protest movement involving acts of civil disobedience, such as strikes and boycotts, but it became more violent later on, partly in reaction to the harsh Israeli security response. According to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, nearly 2,000 people were killed during the First Intifada, with the ratio of Palestinian to Israeli deaths slightly more than 3-to-1. The Second Intifada, which took place roughly from 2000 to 2005, was far more violent—Palestinian militants carried out more than 130 suicide bombings in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza between October 2000 and July 2005—as was its suppression by Israel. More than 4,300 people were killed, again with a ratio of Palestinian to Israeli deaths slightly more than 3-to-1. (In the current conflict, the ratio of Palestinian to Israeli deaths since Oct. 7 is a little less than 15-to-1, not including Palestinians killed in the West Bank.) Neither of these uprisings came anywhere close to being genocides. With the conflation of intifada with genocide seemingly now well underway, though, the world must ask itself: What does it mean to say that the act of rising up, or civil uprising, by Palestinians is impermissible? Do we really mean to say that they should not be able to resist against a miserable, constricting fate that has locked large numbers of their people into hopeless lives in Gaza, or that they should resolve themselves to seeing lands in the West Bank that they once controlled and lived on steadily annexed by Israel while they increasingly come under violent attack? ... Most importantly of all, does it mean that Palestinians must be silent, abandon demands for a state of their own, and merely accept whatever Israel deems is sufficient for them? Have people who hold this view paused to think what avenues are open to Palestinians to object to such things? Can they imagine themselves, for an instant, accepting this?"
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