- The complete disappearance of Arctic sea ice during the summer months could dramatically change ocean currents in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
- The melting of permafrost could lead to a massive release of methane gas, thus greatly accelerating climate change.
- A longer dry season, precipitated by a temperature increase of just 5-7 degrees Fahrenheit, could cause a rapid die-off of the Amazon rainforest.
Some believe we’ve already crossed tipping points, while others hope we can take swift action to prevent us from reaching them. With the exception of climate change deniers, every rational person believes we are living in momentous times!
These are momentous times in Palestine too. I wonder if we can identify any tipping points there (an irreversible change of state). I’m thinking of three specifically.
- Political tipping point?
- Violence tipping point?
- International tipping point?
With this new unity government, and elections promised later this year, Palestinians could have a peaceful transition to a new democratically-elected government if Israel and the United States cooperated. The Central Elections Commission in Palestine certainly provides the necessary infrastructure for a fair and transparent election. But let’s not forget what happened the last time Palestinians went to the polls. The Israelis and Americans didn’t like the voters’ choice (Hamas) and almost immediately penalized the Palestinians in Gaza with a suffocating siege which continues seven years later. I wonder how many Americans would be inclined to go to the polls to cast their vote if they had suffered under the same conditions as a consequence of their last election.
Palestinians desperately need a political tipping point. As an outside observer, it appears to me that the next generation of Palestinians are waiting for the opportunity to lead but they are stuck between old leaders who have long overstayed their welcome and no longer enjoy any political legitimacy — and the ideologues who are more keen in representing their small, limited base rather than rising to the challenge of being leaders for all Palestinians (ie. sorta like the American Tea Party folks) — and the corrupt politicians who only think of themselves.
Netanyahu promises to sabotage the elections by preventing the Palestinians from voting in East Jerusalem. In May 2013, 371,844 Palestinians, comprising 39% of Jerusalem’s total population, lived in East Jerusalem. Can you say d-i-s-e-n-f-r-a-n-c-h-i-s-e-m-e-n-t?!?! (79.5% of East Jerusalem residents and 85% of East Jerusalem children live below the poverty line – the worst rate of all time.)
I hope Palestinians will thumb their nose at the Israelis and Americans, and show the world how a REAL democracy in the Middle East holds elections. Not like el-Sisi’s military coup cum election in Egypt; and not like al-Assad’s mockery in Syria. The Palestinians will create a political tipping point if the next generation of young and educated leaders take the reins and I predict there will be no turning back.
If there is no political tipping point in Palestine, then there will surely be a violence tipping point. Contrary to the Israeli hasbara (media spin), Palestinians have been waging a campaign of nonviolence for more than a decade.
In the West, we only hear about the rockets from Gaza (not the missiles from Israel), and the suicide bombers from the Second Intifada (not Israel’s targeted assassinations of Palestinians which continue to this day). We have this very odd notion that only one side is provoking the violence (Palestinians) while the other side is defending itself from violence (Israel). Nothing could be further from the truth.
The low level violence that persists week after week is unsustainable (an odd term but that’s how Netanyahu and Obama talk about it). I suspect there will come a tipping point in the not too distant future when the young people rise up and decide enough is enough. A perfect storm is brewing with population growth, unemployment, and rising indignation in the West Bank and Gaza. “What do we have to lose?”
I shudder to think what full-scale violence will look like in the Middle East when one side has the sophisticated weaponry bought and paid for by American taxpayers, while the other side has rocks, some rockets, and ingenuity.
Without a doubt, the international tipping point will occur when the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement reaches a critical mass. I see it growing before my own eyes …. as one university after another in the United States decides to divest from Israel’s occupation. Most recently, the Gates Foundation decided to divest from the British security company G4S. Bravo Gates!!
Israeli leaders should keep an eye on these tipping points. Change is in the wind!