The Israelis are clear. They call it “terrorism.” Yet after five months of near-daily violence against Israelis, Palestinian society struggles with how to describe the wave of knife, gun and vehicular attacks targeting Israeli soldiers and civilians.
Is it an “uprising” or “upheaval” or “awakening” — or personal “despair”? Are the assailants “martyrs” or “victims” or both? Are the teens wielding kitchen knives “heroes” or “children” — and after they are shot and killed by Israeli soldiers during the attacks, should they be celebrated as “warriors” for the Palestinian cause or pitied as unstable individuals who “snapped”?
If Palestinians on the street are uncertain about what to call the ongoing violence, the Palestinian leadership appears paralyzed over word choices...Palestinians often decline to describe the stabbings and shootings as “attacks.” Instead, they call them “acts” or “incidents” or “operations,” though the word “operation” implies militant organization and direction from above, which they deny...In a January speech in Ramallah, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called the violence “a popular awakening.”