Jerusalem is once again witnessing a popular collective action; a spontaneous reaction to injustice and oppression amid the failure of local leadership structures.
People have become weary of empty slogans and meagre platforms, opting to take matters into their own hands. But this cycle of protest is not sustainable without a supportive social environment that transcends geography and borders.
As in the waves of anger that erupted in October 2015 and July 2017, the current popular action in Jerusalem represents resistance politics in its most vibrant form. Such collective actions present a challenge to authorities and elites, and to their claims of representation.
Still, the transformation of this anger into a social movement representative of all Palestinian people requires efforts that build on existing networks. It requires the consolidation of collective goals based on a programme of liberation from colonialism and defiance of oppressive authorities and elites.
Jerusalemites recognise this dynamic, and they know that by transforming the wave of anger into a broader movement, they will be closer to emancipation and self-determination. To this end, as political analyst Hani al-Masri argued during the 2017 protest wave, four requirements must be met: broad popular adoption, continuity, platform objectivity and leadership.
The current collective action meets only some of these requirements. Geographical fragmentation limits the possibility for popular adoption, and without something to reinvigorate the movement, people’s willpower and persistence will inevitably be depleted. The platform, or programme for action, is still in development, and the path to shifting from immediate, essential demands to longer-term ones is a difficult, albeit necessary, process.
The leadership vacuum, however, constitutes the biggest challenge. It is of paramount importance to fill this vacuum with a legitimate, representative and effective leadership that sets the direction for the political regime in the aftermath of the current events in Jerusalem.