Monday, March 28, 2011

Watered Down Version

So world domination doesn't look that far away now, as my account of that revolutionary March 15th day was published by Al Jazeera English.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Only Democracy

Netanyahu, being the suave cavalier he is, made his position pretty clear on the recent revolutions in the Arab world (IRAN! RADICAL ISLAM! WON'T SOMEBODY THINK OF ISRAEL!) and openly opposed unity between Fateh and Hamas. His interview with flaky Piers Morgan is riddled with falsities and lies, and is quite telling of his opinion to the Palestinians. Basically, Palestinians should thank the lord every day for not bearing the full military brunt of Israel because of their refusal to accept it. An interim Palestinian state built on 60 percent of the West Bank is a major concession. Gaza has been growing economically at the rate of 17% or some other horseshit (we can't be bothered to read the whole thing again) and Palestinian society is represented by two halves: those who want to see the annihilation of Israel and those who are too scared to confront these would be annihilators. Jews are entitled to build settlements on their God given Jewish homeland, like please, the audacity of the international world to even consider settlements as illegal and obstructive to peace! And would somebody PLEASE stop with automatically racially profiling Palestinians as the villains of the Etmar murders and the Jerusalem bombing. Last time we heard, no one has come forward, yet that hasn't stopped the implications of dozens of Palestinians just because they're the other. Etc etc etc.

Just to showcase how Israel is the best thing in the Middle East and its flawless democratic nature, the Knesset passed a couple of controversial bills.

The Nakba Bill. Any organization that dares to even pay lip service to the Nakba violates the democratic pillars of Israel.

The "Admission Committees Law" Bill. Anyone not Jewish Israeli is not allowed to settle in the Negev. Or as Roi Moar says,"Palestinian Israelis are not allowed to live in Jewish localities built on land confiscated from them."

Other democratic bills include this one that prohibits any form of BDS activism or solidarity.

Israel has its back against the wall, which explains its increasing repressiveness and open racism. The end is nigh. Imagine ten years from now. Or five. Coexistence. Equal rights. Oooh we're all in a dither now.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Meet Abu Saber

Apparently, BZU has an affinity for hosting animals. After our last class last week, dear old Abu Saber was waiting for his photo shoot, munching on that sweet green grass.

* Abu Saber are what donkeys generally get called in Palestinian folklore. Or it may be just our families...

The Prisoners' Children

Four year old Jihad? Just wanted to say, you are more manlier than any of that riff-raff that exists at Birzeit University.

How deep will the psychological effect impact those children, going through hardships (up to 20 hours!!) just to see their brothers and fathers for a mere 45 minutes, behind thick plastic/glass walls? A father yearning to hug his son, kiss his daughter...our heart breaks.

Young Settlers Terrorizing Palestinian Schoolchildren

rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid fucking rabid hell rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid evil rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid scum rabid sickening rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid white rabid power rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid rabid

Sometimes we see shit that would be totally inappropriate for us to make some sarcastic comment because it would come off as being too crass. We're feeling pretty much disgusted right now, choked up to say anything caustic, ears still ringing with the feral yells and jeers and insults of settler children and the screams and cries of the Palestinian schoolgirls. They shouldn't be terrorized going to school. And those IDF soldiers...what a commendable model for restraint and keeping the order. Shit. FUCK. gah.

The words of Israeli novelist Amos Oz: “A messianic junta, insular and cruel, a bunch of armed gangsters, criminals against humanity, sadists, pogromists and murderers that exited out of some dark corner of Judaism…from out of cellars of bestiality and defilement in order to cause a thirsty and insane blood worship to rule!”

Nuff said. Bestial children. Haters.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

One Half of Family Crisis Solved

While rifling through notebooks used from previous semesters to find something worthwhile to submit in the upcoming English department journal, I came across this rare diary-like entrance, written sometime last June.

Tuesday was to be the "good news" day, according to the lawyer. Instead, he called to say that all work on Palestinian ID's have frozen because negotiations aren't on-going. Told Mama from now on we have to be ardent supporters of proximity talks har har. Lawyer said he'll do his under the table business to see what he can get, REALLY hope that by the time he calls on Friday it will be the news we're all waiting and dying to here. Otherwise might as well get packing now and develop my mental state of mind for [Amman]. Even with that my eyes will cry themselves hollow at leaving Falasteen, which was supposed to be our final stop on this mini globe-trotting thang. Promises made by Baba already sound like the exact replica of the promises he made again when we came here in the summer of 04. Monty Python--Always look on the bright side of life.

Needless to say, we dumped the lawyer and went back to Gisha who were previously working on the case. Five months later, the breakthrough finally came. The Israeli military, which issues Palestinian IDs finally admitted that my mother's wrongly issued Gaza ID was a mistake and that her West Bank ID would be dispensed within the next six months. My family breathed again. We could all finally reunite in Amman, where my parents haven't seen each other for over a year as a result of my dad owning a Gaza ID and therefore unable to live let alone enter the West Bank which was our home for the past 6 years.

March 15th, the seminal day surrounded in such fanfare that was to promulgate officially the end of division between Fateh and Hamas, was a disappointment. Low attendance, no sense of direction, attempted sabotage effects by the PA thugs, the list goes on and on. But that day also had its own personal satisfaction. I spotted my mother near the Manara's railings and as I made my way toward her, she turned around and excitedly yelled, "GUESS WHAT! I GOT MY HAWIYA!!" I froze. And then much hugging ensued. 

This is the moment we've all been waiting for, for her to have some sort of legal claim to her right to live in the West Bank, but that doesn't deter from the more glaring pronlem of actually by virtue of acquiring the correct ID her freedom to move outside the West Bank (in Palestine) would still be hindered, like the rest of the 3.5 million Palestinians living there. We are indebted to Gisha, and owe them such immense gratitude. Thank you for persevering with us, for resolutely working on my mother's case, for handling our snappish impatience, and ultimately for winning it in the end. That small note of thanks she published in Al-Quds newspaper doesn't even express half of our appreciativeness. When the news came to her via phone call, my mother had to hang up because she was at a complete loss for words.

A legal resident of the West Bank! Mama hasn't even been to the outskirts of Ramallah city for fear on encountering a flying checkpoint, even after the IDF admitted the mistake they had made in the address on her ID back in November. How absurd that we had to suffer through this ordeal, when she is originally from Ramallah's twin city Al-Bireh! But it's all part and parcel of being Palestinian nowadays. 

Next, we will try to work on my father and older brother's case. It doesn't look too promising since they were both born in Khan Younis, but without hope we wouldn't be where we are today. If my dad can't be permitted to enter the West Bank then we have no other choice but to pack up in the summer and move to Amman, and that will be the moment of victory for the Zionists--succeeding in uprooting another Palestinian family.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Heaven lies at the feet of the mothers.
And of course, mothers should be appreciated every day not just March 21st. This day certainly has a lot of importance in the Arab world, with extremists decrying the day to be haram and the questionably sane happily spending big on their mamas.

PS It's also the 43rd anniversary of the battle of Karameh, where the feday'een over blew the victory to make up for the state of the low morale the Arab world found itself in after the 6 Day War the previous year.

PPS It's also the new year for Iran. Figure that one out.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Hunger Strikers

Yes, we were pretty bitter in the last post. And God loves us for not putting us there at the moment some Fateh thugs showcased their manliness toward the demonstrators. We would have flipped shit.

 We were also not present when scuffles broke out between those Fateh goons and the demonstrators as the goons tried to hijack the protest, succeeding in putting out a couple of Fateh songs on the loudspeakers.

One thing we just touched upon briefly was the non-presence of the youths who had organized March 15th, at least during the time we went (from 1 to almost 3 pm). We realize that just because we didn't see or hear them, that doesn't mean they weren't there. One of the main organizers, Fadi Qur'an was attacked by plainclothes police. In the video below, he is crying out "Oh Palestinians, the mukhabarat/intelligence are beating me up!"

 As of now, the protesters have been hunger striking for three days now. They have camped out for as many days.
Sawt al Manara

In Bethlehem also, young men are are acting similarly, setting up tents for their indefinite sit-ins and hunger strikes around the Nativity Church. This article (in Arabic) gives a portrayal of the atmosphere. Here are some translated excerpts:

They are a group of youth that share not only a consensus of ideas, but the slogan "The People Want an End to Division". They chose the Church of Nativity square as their point of protest, and as the day ended, gathered around for a meeting to discuss the day's happenings, and to plan events for the days coming. Here, everyone is a president and a citizen and an artist, and everyone speaks freely, listening to the more younger ones before the older, all to declare their agreement for a new youth movement.

After the meeting which has become a routine affair, the protesters disperse quietly...some to assuage their hunger with what the owners of nearby shops offered them or from what other supporters brought to them. They assemble around a simple table that does not contain more than bread, falafel, and humus.

Others relax to the sound of a oud  playing and traditional Palestinian songs, as well as songs of Marcel Khalifa and Sheikh Imam. Another group discuss the Palestinian situation, the center of the protest against the continuation of the division. One young man is sweeping the place with a broom.

Back to Ramallah. Tonight at 6pm, there was a musical protest. It reminds us of this absolutely great video...but it doesn't quite fit. Foreigners will love and fawn over any form of creative protest but again this feels a little copied. Or maybe we're just reading too much into this. The poor souls need some festive cheer to cover up their stomach rumblings. Oh hold on, we've just received this. They are suspending hunger strikes as Abbas is due to meet Haniyeh in Gaza. Instead, they'll be hosting art events. They've been chanting, "we don't want a meal, we just want to end the division" which sounds better as always in Arabic.

Here's the real question though. Is a unity between Hamas, who reacted despotic-like toward parallel protests in Gaza, and the PA, who are essentially just proxies of Israel, collaborators, etc etc really in the best interest of the Palestinian people? When they finally kiss and make up, the next step naturally is to work towards ending the occupation. Their unity will of course unite main aspects of Palestinian society, but we must not be dependent on them to confront Israel. Especially when the PA has no qualms in meeting with Gabi Askenazi, the Israeli military chief of staff. We always must think ahead, be that one step ahead of everything. If unity happens, it will be more like some sort of a smokescreen, because unity is definitely not in the best interests of Hamas and Fateh. We can use that as pretext for enhancing our own voices, taking charge from there, and cleaning up the mammoth pile of manure they've dumped us in. There are three demands the youth groups have announced; unity, formation of a new PNC, and the release of all political prisoners. That list needs to be much longer. We are here for the long run, and not just to celebrate imminently "Unity Day" by forming rings and doing dabke.

UPDATE: The list did in fact get longer. Here's part of the press release sent out by the protesting youth in Gaza, who were met with repressive tactics by Hamas and their security forces, which led to some protesters taking refuge in the UNRWA compound.
1 - The release all political detainees in the prisons of the PA and Hamas
2 - The end of all forms of media campaigns against each other.
3 - The resignation of the governments of Haniyeh and Fayyad to re-build a government of national unity agreed by all Palestinian factions representing the Palestinian people.
4 - The restructuring of the Palestine Liberation Organization to contain all the Palestinian factions and get back to its initial aim: Palestine's freedom from illegal occupation.
5 - The announcement of the freeze of negotiations until the full compatibility between the various Palestinian factions on a political program.
6 - The end of all forms of security coordination with Israeli occupation forces.
7 - The organization of presidential and parliamentary elections simultaneously in the time chosen by all the factions

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

March 15th

Empty slogans?

We're just about done wringing our hands. Thank you Egypt for uplifting us with your successful revolution, but the cynicism is back and worse than before.

We've already voiced our thoughts for today. We dared to dream, to hope that March 15th had the potential to become the biggest thing since Tahrir Square captivated the world a few weeks ago. We were aware of our naivety, but we hoped against all hope. Because Palestine is at the lowest point in its history, and it seems just plain criminal to just stand there idly by while the rest of the region is actively attempting and in some cases succeeding in reforming itself. Because the youth were driven with inspiration from the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen. Because if the people in Saudi Arabia braved the repercussions by going out to protest, then there really was no other excuse left for us. Because we want, we demand a better present, not a better future. We've been so guilty of living in the past, and so brusque about the future, that we completely forget that the present is what we're currently living through.

Foolishly, we expected thousands and thousands and thousands of people to come out today. The Facebook page "The Third Intifada" has over 170,000 group members. Were they all sympathetic foreigners, activists, refugees in the diaspora?

Yesterday night, a group of about ten young men went to the Manara square on a hunger strike. They planned to spend the night there. One of them is the son of one of my professors, and this morning in class he echoed what I felt when I first heard about their endeavor. It is admirable, yet foolish. We admire their resolve and their commitment, but this is not well thought out. Within our political society, these kinds of things do not serve as a heroic inspirational preemptive solution to ending the division between Fateh and Hamas nor to ending the occupation. If these youths are strong capable intellectuals, then we need them to stay healthy and not waste away in hunger.

Let us turn to Birzeit University for some general context. Yesterday, a rumor spread like wildfire around campus that the dean of the university had approved to host some Zionists and agreed to an exchange program between Israeli and Palestinian students. There was an uproar to say the least. Suspension of classes were once again announced by the student council, to protest against such shenanigans. Then they split themselves into gangs and went to each building, yelling out for the students to leave or the building will be locked. The student council is for the third year running, the Fateh youth group A-Shabiba. The gangs were all wearing the black and white kuffiyeh (their tattoo for membership) and seemed belligerent. We were shocked by the dean's actions. We were angry too. No to normalization, yes to academic boycott. But the information we had from repeated snippets of conversations from others were inadequate. Which Israeli universities? Who were the Zionists? When was this going to take place? Why would such a decision be undertaken, especially one this immoral? The student council had burned tires in front of the Administration building, and were shouting about something or the other with the loudspeakers blaring out nationalistic songs. With no classes, we went home.

This morning on campus I walked a little with a neighbor, who is involved with the student council. I asked her about yesterday, and she launched into an explanation, which filled out a lot of the dark spaces. Apparently, there was some guy (she told me his name, I forgot) who is well known for his extensive normalization with Israel. So much in fact, that Israel gave him citizenship. He spends weekends in Tel Aviv. Well, this guy wanted to study diplomacy for his masters' degree. Birzeit University agreed to including this new field of study in its masters program. The condition was that Zionists had to teach it. And that as the course progressed, for Israeli and Palestinian students to engage in some exchange business. It was only after I made it to my first class when I realized how silly this all sounded. My teachers that day each spoke about this case. When they had first heard the rumor, they went to the department head and in their fervor demanded that they be the first ones to strike. With fire in their eyes, they called up the administration office, got some clarification, rolled their eyes, and proceeded to give classes. Here's the truth: there is some institution backed by the university and sponsored by foreign aid. The sponsors said that they weren't going to fully finance it unless the institution participates in dialogue with Israel. The dean said no. End of story. [UPDATE: the dean put up this announcement on the student portal Ritaj to dispel the rumors officially.] Think of it this way--student elections (so politicized) are in two weeks. A-shabiba merely made up this baseless rumor as part of their campaign to attract more votes for the election. Last year, a total 40 percent of the student population voted, which reflects the disenfranchisement and annoyance with the student council who by the way don't do squat for the students.

Today, those little self-righteous gangs went from classroom to classroom, making a little speech at the beginning by saying how they represent ALL of us, how they are not just acting in the name of Fateh or Hamas or Jabha (PFLP) but are acting in our names. One guy even pointed us out, "You, and you, and YOU, and him, and her, and her, and YOU, and you!" We gave them the once-over in return. How dare they. They do NOT speak for us. They are NOT our representatives. March 15th was a day organized by youth groups, who warned that some political parties or individuals are going to attempt to hijack this day for their own interests, to suit their own agendas. If they were really serious about ending the division, instead of calling people out to congregate around the Manara chanting "No to Division" , they would right off the bat announce that the legislative elections due to happen in September are not to commence without the inclusion of Hamas. I don't buy for a second that these students, who become the big buff liberators of Palestine for the day, have pure intentions and are serious about ending the division. When the schism took place (2006), they and their ilk were the same ones chanting against Hamas and denouncing the so called oppressive tactics used by Hamas in Gaza. Their flaked sincerity is poorly masked blatant propaganda. They discovered they cannot go against the flow.

The gang came in, about 6 or 7 of them, some scrawny some brawny, all trying their best to look intimidating. They huddled in the doorway glaring at us, memorizing our faces, while one of them stepped in and politely called us out to join them at 11 am in front of the Administration building, and at noon a bus was going to come to drop them off at the Manara. He appealed to our sense of nationalism, "If you truly care about yourselves, if you truly want to see an end to division, please come out with us right now to show and strengthen our support for each other. We are not suspending classes so that the students can hang out in the cafeterias." The class looked back at him skeptically. The other guys from the doorway started shouting at us before a guard stepped in, indicating that they had made their point. We went on with our class, which was actually a discussion of these very same students who fail to use their minds critically. They expect us to be sheep, happily following their every lead. Suspending classes is such a stupid move. Right now, the most powerful tool we have in our hands is Education, something that is clearly lacking in our society. Lack of awareness about our history, our literary culture, BDS, other oppressed countries, resistance movements such as Otpor, etc. People need to engage in critical thinking, and not swallow up everything spoon fed to them. The Palestine cause is not black and white. Sure, you have the occupiers and the occupied, but in the middle there's a large vortex of so many grey areas. We are of course against the division. Every self-respecting Palestinian is. The lowest point in our history was when we brutally turned our guns against each other. No one gains from the division except for Israel and its proxies. However, we want to protest in our own way, not because someone is telling us that we must and the only way to do that is to schlepp along behind their questionable footsteps.

Another gang came by. Another nice little introductory speech, which was interrupted by one of the henchmen pointing to the teacher and pugnaciously disclosing to us all that "She can't stop you from leaving the class!" The speaker hushed him up and continued to babble on. "We come to you, in the name of Hamas, in the name of Fateh, in the name of Jabha and all other political factions and parties, in the name of the students, in the name of you all, to join us, right here right now, to end the division." One girl quipped, "You do not represent Hamas, since Hamas are excluded from the student body." He flustered a bit, then changed tacts. "If you really are Palestinian, you would join us." There was no doubt that we would be at the Manara today, but not pigeon-holed by any sort of group. It intensely grates us when the 'Prove You're a Palestinian' card is played, worryingly a lot these days. It is insulting, and demeaning, and highly unnecessary. It pertains to a sense of fascist desperation, which is the last thing we need.

We went to Ramallah, still encased with hope. A niggling thought that we had forcibly pushed to the back of our minds surfaced. How exactly are we going to end the division? A la Tahrir style? What about our own originality? Are we seriously expecting to end the division when there are different characters and groups who suffer not just from short-sightedness but from other crippling discrepancies? If we wanted to be united once again, we wouldn't have waited for five years. We wouldn't have needed the recent revolutions in the Arab world as a stimulus. We smelled some kind of farcical entity. Yet we dismissed all of that. We walked toward the Manara sqaure, our steps faltering a bit. Where was the massive crowd? We expected the streets leading to the Manara to be half clogged up at the very least. I was reminded by that line in one of the songs by the Arctic Monkeys, "Anticipation has a habit to set you up/ for disappointment in evening entertainment but..."

There were some three thousand people there. Three thousand. To end the division and to end the occupation. Inwardly we laughed scornfully, but our expressions were bleak. Is this the best we can do? The large banners certainly outdid themselves, hanging over the sides of buildings, a couple depicting Yasser Arafat and Sheik Ahmad Yasin (the people in the buildings cut out squares in the posters so that they could see). The problem, we quickly found out, was the loudspeakers. They kept playing songs over and over again, so that anyone chanting had little chance of being heard, and those small crowds who nevertheless resolutely chanted were drowned out. It was a washed out Arab version of Woodstock. The guys on the stage draped over the speakers were dancing and cheering the crowd on. Most of the people were just standing there, holding their Palestine flags. Foreigners darted through here and there snapping award winning pictures. Our hearts dropped somewhere below our toes. To one side, there was some jostling as a group of teenage boys formed a circle and dropped on their backsides for a "sit-in". One of their friends stood in the middle dancing inanely. We edged away, numb to it all. In front of us, more guys were starting to do dabke. Our insides squirmed and the space where our hearts were supposed to be cleaved itself into two. The loudspeakers encouraged them, belting out a couple of popular dabke songs. Was this a demonstration or a sahrah? Did we miss the cause for celebration? For this flippant atmosphere? We circumvented the Manara twice. It was mostly empty on the other side. We both wanted to go home, but we held on, hoping for a miracle to happen.

It never came.

The handful carrying their own posters. HANDFUL.
For something that was planned from weeks on end and organized on Facebook, this event was outstandingly anti-climatic. There was no element of seriousness about it at all. We saw more heart, passion, fortitude, and genuineness from the protests in solidarity with Egypt last month (February the 5th) than today. Abbas and Haniyeh are breathing more freely now. A colossal waste of time, a heart-rendering disappointment. We were shocked because we honestly had reason to believe that today, March 15th, was going to be a groundbreaking day. How silly of us.

So we had a bit of a moan and treated ourselves to some ice cream.

A sticker "Let Us End the Occupation" discarded on the street, trodden on

Now, to think critically. Reasons for the low turnout? Laziness, fatalistic attitudes, lack of faith, danger to one's health, ignorance, indifference, acceptance of present reality, realism, numbness to occupation (hey, we have food on the table every day), not being 'Palestinian' enough. etc. Where were all those people commenting on the Facebook page of Let Us End the Occupation? (Last I checked, busy bickering on cyberspace.) Where were the youth leaders? Where were their demands on this much toted 'seminal' day? Where is the communication between ourselves? What are the plans from now?

Is this a serious movement? By today's standards, the answer is a resounding hellllll to the no. Will anything happen tomorrow? Next week? WHAT IS GOING ON? Have we just demonstrated to ourselves and the world that nonviolent protesting definitely does not work with us? And that the fatuous campaign of writing on bank notes is definitely not the way to start our long process of liberation? Tunisia is not Egypt, and Palestine is not Egypt. What this protest succeeded in is to disorient many people, placing the thought that what was taken from us by force will only be reclaimed again by force. Is this what we're reduced to now?

Ramallah's finest brand of fafis

Are we going to end the occupation by procuring tents and settling indefinitely around the Manara square? That'll be a grand thing to do, as settlers expropriate more land, our yells and demands will get louder, all the while languidly sitting there. Or shall we turn rebel fighters and aided with the defected colonels of the PA's security forces, go forward in reclaiming each city one by one, until the mighty IDF bests us with their superior weaponry? So many questions. Too many questions. Call this a state of confusion.

One raging disgusted voice (which I'll leave anonymous), mostly mirroring our own, well expressed:

It's clear to me that we Palestinians are totally confused! El-Inkisam [Division] is probably the least of our problems right now! Personally I think we've lost our ability to create our unique way of resistance! so now we're just imitating and reproducing wotever is thrown upon us....we're not Egypt..Tunisia or Libya....we have Israel AND Qadhafi/Benali/Moubarak....we have one of the few left old forms of colonization in the world...peaceful demonstrations don't work to lift injustice (that's merely my opinion)
I think we should start over....wot is going on! wot has happened!where have we lost our path! wot have we lost and wot do we want now! I think we need to redefine US...who are Palestinians! In the Deffe [West Bank] they want the authority of the people....which people....what about the refugees.....why don't we reconnect with many of us know about Ein elHilwe, Bourj elBarajneh, elYarmook.....that's our identity.....that's the only clear path...we forgot the basics and the redlines have turned gray.....there is Israel, an needs to go.....there are red green and white/black political parties...their agendas are proven incapable...they need to authority stumbled in weakness and needs to go....another authority full of religious crap and needs to and candles DON'T WORK here.......only violence and power....physical power not verbal......don't go on food strike....STRIKE!
wot has been taken by force can only be restored by force.....indeed Israel has taken so much...but those who are in control have taken much more...our spirit to resist.....our path....Force is the only solution to Inkissam and to I7tilal [occupation]....(merely my opinion)....we need awareness and i don't think that could be found in the amounts needed....we're confused....i am :s
All i know now is that i don't blv in an peaceful protest here....Peace has done us alotta harm.

Peace has done us a lot of harm.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Ahead of March 15th

We have no idea if March 15th will blow out into a radically different intifada or see a couple thousand demonstrators on their lunch breaks chanting mechanically if at all slogans against the division and the occupation. We take heart from Egypt's January 25th, where a couple thousand grew into hundreds of thousands on that first day alone. Is there tension in the air? Not really. Personally, when we think about what a groundbreaking day March 15th could turn out to be and how that will play a pivotal role in forming a genuine Palestinian leadership ready to tackle the occupation head-on, our hearts flutter a bit. However, we don't want to dwell on that too long for fear of once again having our souls crushed if instead a pitiful crowd showed up for a couple of hours, yelling chants to let off steam before scooting back to their homes.

Here's the statement put out by the Palestinian youth groups organizing the shindig.

Regarding Attempts to Co-opt March 15th Protests
The mass protests planned by Palestinian youth groups for March 15th are gaining momentum and extended media coverage. We, the youth groups organizing and mobilizing for this movement, find it necessary to clarify the following points:
- These protests are being organized under the banner of national unity and reconciliation. However, we emphasize that resolving the predicament of Palestinian disunity must be based on principles and values agreed upon by the Palestinian people regardless of their political affiliation. The first of these principles is the illegitimacy of imprisoning people based on their political beliefs. Consequently, we demand the release of all political prisoners held by the government in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
Our demands for change go beyond ending Palestinian disunity and partial tweaks to the status quo. We insist on full democratic representation for Palestinians all over the world. Consequently our movement stipulates:
- Democratic Palestinian National Council (PNC) elections based on a one-person one-vote electoral system that guarantees equal representation for all Palestinians around the world (Gaza Strip, West Bank, 48 territories, refugee camps, and in the Diaspora). This necessitates a complete overhaul of the PNC’s structures and the establishment of new electoral procedures.
Attempts to Co-opt March 15th Mass protests
Palestinian political parties, Hamas’ government in Gaza, Fayyad’s government in the West Bank, and a plethora of nongovernmental organizations are seeking to co-opt this movement to serve their narrow interests. Moreover, they are attempting to legitimize themselves by falsely stating that they are the main organizers behind this event. We open-heartedly welcome the participation of party members and NGO employees, who are an essential and inseparable part of our societal fabric. We do not welcome attempts by their leaders to redirect our efforts.
- We affirm that the March 15th movement is by the people for the people, and is independent of any political party or institutional backing. It is being organized by non-partisan youth groups who dream of a better future for their people.
We invite all Palestinians, and particularly Palestinian youth, to come down to the street on March 15th. We will only carry Palestinian flags, and chant and sing for freedom, unity, and justice. March 15th shall be the day we stand in unity to demand democratic representation for all Palestinians as an affirmative step in our struggle for Freedom from Israeli Apartheid.

Will Twitter see a hash tag for March 15th? And more importantly, will Omar Offendum and The Narcicyst make a song entitled #Mar15th? Or will this blog run our angry bitter lamentations about what a huge disappointment the day turned out to be?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

100th Anniversary of Women's Day

Sometimes, we wish we were guys instead. We love our mamas. So it's not about the additional freedom (although we were raised up as equally as our brothers, well almost) it's more about not having to put up with the wackiness that comes with the female package. Gossip, slander, getting checked out by every girl we thoughtlessly intruded on their breathing space, their needy ovaries, and just sheer silliness:

[about random dude] "OMIGOSH he just saw me eating. What if he thinks I'm a fatass?"*

 But then we were always so well endowed in advanced sagacity than from the rest of our peers.

And to demonstrate that, Global Voices has interviewed one of us about this dear pet of ours.

Palestine: Life in the Eyes of Two West Bank Students

And to really culminate Women's Day, here's a nice piece from Queen Noor, who is so unlike her present day brown-nosing sit-in.

Women's new empowerment will not be suppressed easily, however. So far, these have not been the traditional stories about women -- especially Muslim women -- that tend to show up on the news. Many do not imagine Arab and Muslim women have much in common with their counterparts in the West because of the selective, damaging and stereotypical images that the media commonly present. When I married King Hussein in 1978, reporters were constantly asking me how a progressive, educated, American woman could go live in such a repressive culture. Those reporters did not know the Arab women I did -- the doctors, lawyers, professors and entrepreneurs -- many of whom became friends and advisers as I set my priorities for public service.

*True quote.

Palestinian human rights NGO Al-Haq with this video. Just a reminder that some women are not all emancipated.

Monday, March 7, 2011

An Imminent Revolutionary Palestine?

Looks like we've unbuckled our explosive belts in favor for writing on bank notes.

Talking to Ynet, group founder Salah Barghouti discussed the initiative. "We were sitting and thinking of how we can voice our protest in a non-violent way and then the idea came up to write a clear short message on the notes."
Barghouti and his friend Amad Abu-Sumeia claim that this is a simple, creative, innovative and non-violent method of spreading Palestinian protest. They are pleading with people who have joined the group on Facebook to protest actively.

As social media helped facilitate the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, young Palestinians are turning to that tactic to push for their own revolution. Started by a couple of well meaning guys, the Facebook group called يلا ننتهي الاحتلال/Let's End the Occupation acts as a forum to its growing members (almost 14000 now) who pitch forward their ideas of how to resist and dismantle the ongoing Israeli occupation peacefully.

Just an interjection- to all the sanctimonious privileged foreign armchair activists who see it fit to dictate exactly just exactly how Palestinians should resist by lamenting that untapped reservoir of Ghandi-ism. Well we don't really have a scathing threat just yet, but seriously their opinion is required only after they actually experience the occupation, the inhumanity of it all, the unbearable suffering, the life without dignity, etc. That holier-than-thou attitude is probably masking their inner zionuts. A population under occupation can resist in whatever form they want to, and they've got the legal credentials (although widely dismissed in our case) to back them up too so booyah! Also, there's this little thing called BDS going on, as well as the weekly [favorite word coming up] 'non-violent' protests most famously at Bil'in and Nil'in against the encroaching Apartheid wall, in which 21 people were killed. So take your self-righteousness and stick it up where the sun don't shine.

Instead of a unified page a la We Are All Khaled Said mode, there are other Facebook groups calling for  revolutionary measures to be gradually taken up and since we've emphasized the division of society one too many times, we won't harp on about how this is a reflection of so and so. 

March 15th is the new toted Day of Mass Protests (there's no such thing as a Day of Rage, check) which will take place not just in Ramallah but in Gaza and other cities in the West Bank. Here's half of the ice burg of what we're protesting about:

  • First and foremost, the Israeli occupation.
    •  Dear white supremest colonizers, we will share our land with you with open arms, after you lose that dangerous superciliousness and accept some pretty hard core reparations. Just stop with those dehumanizing antics, gosh.
  • The PA
    • We don't want you, no really we don't. And the next time you introduce yourselves as the representatives the of the Palestinian people we will forgo our recently attained Ghandi-ism and shoot you in both knee caps whilst synchronizing our movements with the latest Lindsay Lohan album that will be blaring on the speakers used at Tahrir square.
  • Hamas
    • Maintain some sort of credibility and do not hog up power in the Gaza strip by repressive force, or by any force for that matter. The greater good, no? You can do it!
  • The division between Hamas and Fateh
    • For the love of Allah, just kiss and make up already. Then you can retire to your abodes or join in the revolution, but not before we impose a travel ban on some of those ministers and collaborators, freeze their assets, and then bring them up before court. Uh huh, we've got eyes on the back of our heads. You know who you are.
  • The USA and its vetoing power
    • Keep digging your own grave by supplying those 3 billion dollar military aid to Israel. We're already laughing at your democracy.

Writing Free Palestinian on the Israeli currency isn't our kind of thing. It's nice that those who thought up the idea exercised their creative powers to a stretch, but we'll let them in on a little secret. B.Freakin.D.S. BOYCOTT! It's much faster, more effective, and more popular. How many stores are going to accept a graffitified 100 NIS note? How many stores will stop supplying Israeli products when the customers acquire a new line of preference?

That's it. We're taking this into our own hands. Henceforth, our names shall be X Magna and Z Carta.
Shit, we really gotta start a Twitter account now.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day of Rage Renamed Day of Fail

Two weeks ago on Thursday, the day on which the world saw Libya erupt into a revolution, hundreds of people gathered around the Manara square calling for an end to the political (which follows into geographical and societal and familial) division and chanted their blessed little hearts out for a national unity. It was probably the first time in years since we've seen an abundance of just Palestinian flags being waved in the air, which is a good thing of course. The very next day, the United States vetoed the Security Council resolution draft to oppose settlements in the West Bank, being the only one out of 15 countries, as Susan Rice made a Gaddafi-like statement which was the epitome of looney contradictions:
"We reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. For more than four decades, Israeli settlement activity in territories occupied in 1967 has undermined Israel’s security and corroded hopes for peace and stability in the region. Continued settlement activity violates Israel’s international commitments, devastates trust between the parties, and threatens the prospects for peace….While we agree with our fellow Council members—and indeed, with the wider world—about the folly and illegitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, we think it unwise for this Council to attempt to resolve the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians. We therefore regrettably have opposed this draft resolution."
The world should just let Israel resolve the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians. More settlements, more rightful immigrant Jews, less fucking smoke.

Abbashole was this close to signing his death by decapitation warrant after that weak-kneed Obama and crazy cat woman Clinton called him up to drop the resolution and "settle for a non-binding statement condemning settlement expansion" inquire about his health and his serfs.

Of course this isn't a shock or surprise to anyone since Israel has the US snugly in its back pocket, but it got us thinking, something that would undoubtedly put our future marriages in peril. The Egyptian revolution is indescribable. It is awe-inspiring. And, best of all, it is democratic. So when the hell would the youth of the Uniiiiited States of America rise up and revolt in their own ground breaking way? Who would settle for their country to be played along another country's interests, whims, and desires? Those billions of dollars in aid annually and happily given to a foreign country could be made out to better use domestically-hello health care, over expensive tuition fees, ghettos and poverty! Did you know that you could all be alleviated had not the government decided to put you in the backseat? It's a hard knock life isn't it. And the youth of America, armed with their crabby little electronic devices and gadgets and gizmos and the mother of them all, the internet! Isn't there a better way to utilize all that than go giddy with happiness at the 14 notifications received on their bathroom pouting pictures? They have everything laid out for them. Could we witness another brave civil movement that the Blizters and Palins would denounce as a hippy AIDS-loaded hash party?

Back to Palestine. The next Friday after the veto day-a week later- was announced to be the Day of Rage. When we first read up about this, we snorted with laughter. Then we felt ashamed because we remembered that our causticness was supposed to be dead and buried. And so we hoped, and eagerly awaited that Friday, already thinking about writing up witty abrupt posters and such.

That week was uneventful, except for a mini demonstration, if it can be called that, in front of the student council building on campus in solidarity with the Libyans. It's perfectly legitimate to stage something like this only because Abbashole hasn't come out with anything official supporting Gaddafi, whereas in the case of Egypt, he threw his back behind Mubarak. Needless to say we didn't join in, not because we favor the Egyptian dialect over the Libyan (izayak ya mozz!) but because it didn't have a sense of genuine support coming from an ordinary people touched and infuriated by the massacres Gaddafi was committing against his people and the steadfast revolution. It was once again, a political party thing. Wave your hands in the air if you like Fateh-and Libya!

Then on Thursday, a suspension of classes on behalf of the student council was blasted through the loudspeakers. The aim was for the students to ditch their classes and congregate in front of the administration building and then go on towards Ramallah to once again voice their sentiments for national unity. This rarely works, if ever. Out of the 9000 students, only a few hundred heed the call. The other thousands do ditch their classes, but they use the time wisely by buying lunch and if the weather is sunny (as it was on that day) sit outside in their cliques, with their conversations becoming more mundane by the minute. Some teachers ignore  the "suspension of classes" and proceed to give their lectures, contending their claim that they are not forcing anyone to be present. We were in one such class, and about five minutes in a group of Palestine's very own liberators came into the room and told the teacher to let us go. They reminded us of immigration officers. Mr Nice Guy, Mr Belligerent, Mr Suave. The teacher replied that she is not holding anyone hostage and that we have the free will to join in their quest if we wanted to. No one did. The guys left. Ten minutes later they arrived again, this time accusing the teacher of being a lesser Palestinian by not giving up the class to join in the  demonstration. We laughed at them. They turned to us and the rest of the students, imploring us, nay asserting that it is a right upon ourselves, a duty, to join in. One girl piped, "We're not joining because it won't change anything." This may have reflected our bygone days of cynicism, but it still rang out to be true. We're all for protests, but we need masses of people. We don't want to be outnumbered by the foreign journalists and cameramen/women who get excited whenever a Palestinian flag is raised. The guys left again. Two minutes later, they interrupted for the final time. They addressed the teacher. "Miss, we're locking down the building. All the other students have left." That pissed us off. Shitty tactics. Last semester at the very beginning, there was also a lockdown because the dean of the Arts college was refusing to see students. The lockdown didn't change his mind.

After class was over, we went to Ramallah. It was our intention all along to witness this momentous pre-Day of Rage demonstration, if not for our hopes to be crushed then at least to witness anything of significance. We heard the crowd assembling way down Rukab Street, and then they marched to the Manara square armed with a lot of Palestinian flags. They numbered, to us, about three hundred but Ma'an reported that they were 1500. Still not impressive. We waited, hoping for a great big turn out, doing our best to ignore one kid's flag stick continually poking our armpits, because when we snap, boy do we snap. There was a pick-up truck with about ten loudspeakers blasting nationalistic songs, with the interludes filled in by a couple of guys chanting "Wi7de wi7de watania!" National Unity and "Asha3b yureed inha2 ilinqisam!" The People Demand and End to Division.

The whole thing lasted for about 30 minutes. The guys attempting to lead the chants were taking puffs from their cigarettes in one hand, with their other hand punching the sky. It was pretty quiet. No one was repeating after them after the first 10 or 15 minutes. The pick-up left, with one last proclamation from the loudspeakers-"Join us tomorrow for a historical day!"

We then went our separate ways, walking home with a look of incredulity mixed with disgust.

Alaa Tartir brings out valid points, such as the PA's quick reaction to the revolutions shaking the Arab region by injecting us with "painkillers" such as their call for legislative elections in September and the reshuffling of the PA cabinet and inviting Hamas to be part of a new unity government. The question of their legitimacy is masked by such endeavors, but who is there to shake things up? This is what Palestinians need to do, for the benefit of Palestine
We would like to revolt against the occupation, against the Palestinian National Authority and its leadership, against both Hamas and Fatah to end the intra Palestinian divide, against the international and regional intervention in the internal Palestinian affairs, against the US administration for its role as a ‘dishonest broker’ for the peace process and against its veto, against their dire socio-economic conditions, against the siege on Gaza, against the marginalization of youth, to name a few.

The next day, the Day of Rage, never materialized.

Unless you count this.
Better yet, this.