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?

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