The stabbings, shootings, and other attacks that Israelis have suffered in recent weeks are not—as is often claimed—responses to economic misery, the building of houses in Jewish settlements, or any particular action taken by Israel. Rather, argues Haviv Rettig Gur, they are a frustrated response to the complete and persistent failure of the Palestinian national movement to achieve anything at all, whether through Arab wars on Israel, intifadas, missiles, or negotiations:
[The terrorists, in their own minds,] are resisting more than the Israeli occupation. They are battling . . . the growing Palestinian realization that their national movement has no answers, no narrative or political vision that offers a way forward to better days. These young killers are striving . . . to rekindle the idea among Palestinians that straightforward victory remains possible, if only because the alternative—the possibility that Israel cannot be dislodged, that the . . . vision of an undivided, unfettered Palestine cannot be reclaimed—is simply too monstrous to accept. . . .
[The] premise that the Jews of Israel do not constitute a nation, with rights, that has nowhere else to go, but rather a colonialist ideological construct imposed on this land by foreigners, has become a pillar of more than Palestinian politics; it lies at the root of Palestinian identity, of what Palestinian nationhood has come to mean. [The Palestinian national] identity . . . had no political expression until Zionism came into being [and] is for Palestinians, at least in part . . . delineated by the [perception] of being pushed back by the invading imperialism of the Jews. . . .
Nations have rights, and do not lose these rights when they err. That is why Palestinian leaders are so fearful of acquiescing in Israel’s demand that they recognize Jewish nationhood; among their arguments against the demand, one is paramount: it amounts to recognition of Jewish national rights, a vastly more profound concession than Palestinian moderates’ acknowledgment of Jewish power.