For the majority of Palestinians, occupation is neither "enlightened" nor "benign," as some Israelis describe it. It is a painful daily reminder of subjugation. Humiliation is a part of life for the average Palestinian who must routinely endure stops at Israeli military checkpoints and harassment by often arrogant Israeli soldiers.
The humiliation continues when Palestinians are forced to deal with an unresponsive Israeli bureaucracy, which requires them to complete most forms in Hebrew instead of Arabic or English. Given the scope and ferocity of political violence that has swept spontaneously through the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and among Israeli-Arab communities, it is ludicrous to believe that the corrupt and inept Palestinian Authority or even Hamas could organize or control the protests, let alone the deep seated anger and frustration that has fueled them. For now, the main focus should be on diplomacy to the end the bloodshed on both sides, if only to give the peace process a last chance. For Palestinians who suffered casualties in the rioting, this will be difficult but necessary.
"If one wants an occupation to end, one does not make it impossible for the occupier to leave," said I. William Zartman, a professor on negotiations at Johns Hopkins University's Nitze School for Advanced International Studies. "Otherwise, the Palestinians are playing right into the hands of Sharon and his supporters."