Last year, when riots broke out in France, bloggers started calling it "The French Intifada". In a recent article, I read that a French police union also referred to it as such, saying they were facing a "permanent intifada".
I wrote about this briefly in the previous article, but thinking about it I realized this could be analyzed deeper.
"Initifada" is the Arabic word for "uprising".
In the popular conception it refers to An uprising among Palestinian Arabs of the Gaza Strip and West Bank, beginning in late 1987 and continuing sporadically into the early 1990s, in protest against continued Israeli occupation of these territories. (American Heritage Dictionary).
In Israel a 2nd Intifada started in 2000, and though some Israelis believe it had never stopped, now Hamas is talking about yet a 3rd Intifada.
There are several issues here, which I bring as points for thought.
1. France is known as a country which upholds its purity of language. Why use a foreign term? Is the usage of an Arabic word meant to imply that the rioters are Arab? Or that there is no other way to describe what is happening? The Palestinian Intifada is seen by many as a popular uprising, coming from the lowest levels and not from the politicians and leaders.
Investigation shows that the ambushes are done by criminal gangs intent on revenge from the police. Is that really a 'popular uprising'?
2. What does 'uprising' mean in this case? An uprising of whom against whom? Is the French police union saying that the French are occupiers or seen as such by the rioters? the rioters do not claim to be fighting for "freedom" from France.
3. Maybe "intifada" points at the tactics used. the rioters are not a militia and only have stones and molotov cocktails at their disposal. They have not (yet) opened fire at police, and do not use regular terrorist methods such as bombs.
3. Supposedly, the Palestinian Intifada is meant to achieve a certain goal, ie: the end of Israeli occupation. What does a "permanent" intifada mean? Is there no goal? Or do they believe that the goal is unachievable? (I will put aside the implicit assumption that the Palestinian Intifada is not "permanent").