Insurgencies can be classified into two types: those inspired by discontent classes and individuals, and the truly popular. The difference seems to have to do with the size of the society. In the vast rural areas of Russia and Ukraine, no one political figure hopes for decisive influence on masses of peasants, and revolts are accordingly rare. But when they do occur, they involve the entire society, as if the entire volume were boiling (the Bolshevik revolt was actually not a peasant revolution, but the Bolsheviks eventually imposed it on the peasants). In relatively small Western European countries, a small group of people can incite the entire population. The last type of revolt is characteristic of small Palestine, from the 1834 Peasant Revolt in Syria, instigated by the notables who lost their power to the Egyptian administration and by the Bedouin who lost their racketeering income from road tolls, all the way to the Second Intifada imposed on the Palestinian population by the military class of university dropouts. Common Arabs are conservative and unwarlike.

Like most peasants, they are pragmatic and conscious of their economic interests. They readily join mass robbery and assaults on civilians, eagerly participate in short-term protests (their version of baseball finals), but resist direct involvement in lengthy insurrections. Israel, accordingly, easily crushed Arab insurrections in the West Bank and Gaza by jailing and exiling their leaders and a few hundred operatives. The earlier occupational powers, the Ottomans and Mohammad Ali, enjoyed the major advantage of cultural commonality with the Palestinian Arabs, at least in terms of language and religion. The occupiers therefore could employ a very effective strategy against Palestinian insurrections inspired by just a few notables: setting the notables against each other (an easy task among the Palestinian clans). Israel, a power decidedly foreign to Palestinian Arabs, doesn’t enjoy such freedom to maneuver and achieves poor results trying to inflame the strife among Palestinian factions. Instead of the unconditional policy of dividing the Palestinian Arabs as much as possible at any time, Israel even promoted a unity government of Fatah and Hamas—obvious enemies and perfect candidates for an internecine Palestinian war—which would divert the guerrillas’ attention from Israel.

Moralistic Israel is also bereft of another strategic asset that benefited the Ottomans, Egyptians, and British occupiers: a show cruelty. Palestinian Arabs are used to dismal living conditions, barbaric lifestyles, and routine cruelty from ritual slaughter of sheep to police brutality. Slight repressions don’t deter them. Previous occupiers proved themselves serious by burning the rebelling towns and taking measures against the rebellious population. Failure to show the expected cruelty positions Israel in the Arabs’ eyes as a feminized weakling and makes submission to her dishonorable. On the other hand, submission to a cruel, manly power is pragmatic and therefore honorable for Arabs. Israel also avoids punishments specifically frightening to Muslims (such as decapitation and burial in pigskins), and to Arab peasants (such as confiscation of firearms and forced conscription). Egyptians made their Palestinian Arab conscripts fight their brethren in the 1834 revolt, but Israel wrongly imagines the Arabs would refuse even civil service; they won’t refuse if pushed hard enough.