Sunday, May 15, 2011

The 63rd Nakba Commemoration

As a Nakba commemoration day, it was fine. As a third intifada, it was nonexistent, but that's also fine. At the Qalandiya checkpoint, around 150 youth suffered from tear gas inhalation and sustained related injuries. Tens were arrested by the musta3rabeen, or mistaravim in Hebrew and other "special forces". Around the borders and in the Gaza Strip, more civilians were shot at and killed. In Ras Maroun on the southern Lebanese border, civilians were killed by Israeli soldiers. These civilians, numbering so far ten, were still on the Lebanese side of the border. In Gaza at its northern border with Israel, one Palestinian got killed and almost a hundred injured. Syrian protesters managed to get inside the border into the Majdal Shams village. Four have been confirmed killed, and the rest were driven back to the Syrian border. The video below is of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon throwing rocks at the chain link fence that separates Lebanon from Israel/Palestine.

In Ramallah, there were a lot of festivities. For the first time ever, I wore the black and white kuffiyeh. With the whole unity thing, I decided to give it a shot. However, nothing changed as the total number for receiving unwanted pervy comments just got tallied off the chart.

"She's from the kata'ib [ Aqsa brigades]!"
"What a pretty Fat7awiya."
"Did you liberate Palestine yet?"
"Here comes the liberation of Palestine!"
"Look, here comes the big boss."
"Did you see that? Oh Allah, my heart!"

Last year I wrote a poem about how wearing a black and white kuffiyeh in the West Bank automatically typifies you as a supporter of Fateh. It makes me beyond sick. In high school, I wore the red kuffiyeh in the winter a couple of times, mainly because my favorite color is red and I like me some Palestinian heritage. To my horror, a couple of teachers gave me a knowing smile and said heartily, "I didn't know you were jabha! Haw haw haw." And when I wore a green shirt I got followed around by a few leering Neanderthals calling out to me, "Hamsawiya! Show us what you've got!"

Not meaning to digress, but what exactly is the best way to respond to these sexual harassers? I learned from the hard way that silence eventually shuts them up and makes them move on to their next prey, but one of these days I am going to bust out my kung-fu kicks and leave them rotting in some sewage pipe.

Back to the festivities. There was one on the side of the Manara square that leads off to Rukab Street, where a few men were leading the chants, and then there was a huge stage set up down by the hisbeh (vegetable marketplace). On that stage, a few notables said speeches, poems were read out, dabka was performed, a couple of Fateh songs were played, Ammar Hasan (finalist on the show Superstar 7 years ago) sang, two young women swooned, and the popular Abu Arab closed the show by singing for almost an hour. Schools from Ramallah and the surrounding villages proudly displayed their scout cubs who took turns in making their way down the streets in their band processions.

There were a lot of people, not as much as on the night before Eid, but it was obvious that many of them had come to Ramallah to do their shopping/sight-seeing and not just for the Nakba day. In terms of action, Ramallah got the least, and as I said above that's perfectly acceptable. The Palestinians are not ready for a third intifada. The youth movements, the political factions, and the grassroots activism movements need to get together, agree on a mandate, and set about finding ways to achieve their goals. Intifada doesn't mean piling up the numbers of martyrs. There needs to be a clear purpose, a collective will to endure sacrifices as a means to reach the ends. With 150,000 Palestinians employed in the PA ministries, their reaction to unity was long-suffering annoyance at not receiving their salaries for this month (as a result of Israel freezing the PA's tax revenues and Salam Fayyad withholding the 300 million dollars the PA have). The first intifada on a civil level was truly an uprising of the people, as they collectively boycotted Israeli goods, refused to pay their taxes, burned their IDF military issued IDs, etc. The second intifada saw different political factions fragmenting Palestinian society as each group used the intifada for their own interests. In one of our classes, the professor asked us all whether the martyrs who had died/sacrificed themselves for Palestine had died for nothing. It is easy to romanticize dying for a cause, in fact someone once said that to die for a cause is better than living for nothing, but to answer that question in the context of the present political reality is really crushing.

And yet, I am hopeful. Times are certainly a-changing. There's been unprecedented unbiased coverage of the Israeli occupation, more and more people all around the world are waking up to the true nature of what the state of Israel stands for, and with the Arab revolutions, the populations who were once silenced under the boots of their dictators are finally free to express their immense solidarity and support for the Palestinians and Palestine. It is highly possible that the next generation will never know what occupation is, and "jundi, hajiz, ta5, saroo5" (soldier, checkpoint, shooting, rocket) won't be part of a four year old's vocabulary. The West Bank society need to reform themselves, following the outstanding examples of the villages Nabi Saleh, Bil'n, and Nil'in, and to not acclimatize themselves with the occupation on the basis of just wanting to live their lives, because living under brutal military rule doesn't sound like much of a life, even if there's a rise in bar partying and more Movenpick hotels are built. And that's basically the summary of our huge dissatisfaction with our society. Resist is to Exist.

Pictures from today:

Posters all around Ramallah

Boys Scout club from Mughayar School

Even the soos guy went patriotic for the day

One side of the Manara
Peeping Tom :)

Ah, Stars and Bucks. The woman in the window was waving a kuffiyeh

Crap angle of the ever symbolic key

And continuing with the spirit of hopefulness in the face of positive change, here's a video of a protest that took place in Tel Aviv where the Palestinian flags were raised for the first time since 1948. No Fatah snide remarks for those kuffiyeh wearing peeps!

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