Saturday, May 14, 2011

May 15th and the Third Palestinian Intifada

Every year for the past 62 years, there has always been a Nakba commemoration day. May 15th marks the Israeli "War of Independence Day" at the expense of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians that were displaced, expelled, and ethnically cleansed from their cities, villages, and homes in the most brutal manner. Some fled for fear of experiencing the same fate that Deir Yassin underwent, where over one hundred men, women, and children were murdered on the spot. Others were threatened, forcibly evicted, and were either placed on trucks that took them to the Jordanian/Lebanese borders or were told to walk there under the unbearable heat with inadequate food and supplies and no shelter. Many died on the way. Others made their "temporary" homes in the nineteen refugee camps in the West Bank, and the eight in the Gaza Strip.

Every Palestinian is familiar with the Nakba, as it still lives on in the collective memory, passed on from generation to generation, where land deeds and rusty keys are the most prized possessions. 700,000 refugees, over half of the original Palestinian population, have escalated 63 years later into a 6 million problem. Israel continues to systematically deny these facts and figures, disseminating lies through their hasbara machine that these Arabs left on their own accord and free will, but for how long? Especially in such glaring evidence? Writing on newly obtained statistics that show how Israel revoked residency rights of Palestinians (up to 140,000) up until the time of the Oslo Accords, Gideon Levy writes how the spirit of ethnic cleansing is still very much alive and kicking in the democratic state of Israel, all for the purpose of transforming the land into a purely Jewish only state.
"This is an absolute refusal to allow the return of the refugees - something that would "destroy the State of Israel." It's also an absolute refusal to allow the return of the people recently expelled. By next Independence Day we'll probably invent more expulsion regulations, and on the next holiday we'll talk about "the only democracy."

This year, the 63 third commemorative year of the Nakba, is surrounded by so much hype and fanfare. Bolstered by the geopolitical changes in the Arab world, and drawing upon loud support from the resuscitated Egyptians as a result of their spectacular revolution, this Sunday promises to be something memorable. Egyptian youth have called for a million man march to the Rafah border to show their support and solidarity with the Palestinians, and Jordanians and refugees in Lebanon have pledged to do the same on their side. But guess who has the audacity to rain on the Egyptians' parade... Hamas leader Khalid Meshaal. He called for the Egyptian youth to refrain from marching to the border, citing fears of "unwanted military confrontation" and not wanting to place Egypt in direct conflict with Zionism when they have their own problems to sort out. Given that Hamas shot any diaphanous shred of credibility by announcing its favor in the two state solution, Meshaal's comments are seen as nothing less than traitorous. Imagine Mahmoud Abbas or any of his henchmen saying that. Speaking of which, the PA has banned anyone from demonstrating on Sunday next to checkpoints and settlements.

63 years, and Palestinians are not in any way closer to giving up their right of return.

And again, Ben Gurion's "The old will die and the young will forget" couldn't be further away from the truth. IMEU has come up with this great initiative where second or third generation refugees in a one minute video talk about their parents/grandparents' Nakba memories.

This year, Israel passed a law forbidding anyone inside of Israel to commemorate the nakba since apparently it's a criminal offense. This from the Palestine Monitor:
Palestinian schools inside the Green Line have already experienced signs that portend increased censorship. According to an Alternative Information Center report, officials from Israeli Ministry of Education visited Palestinians schools on Land Day, 30 March, requesting that school officials send the Ministry a list of teachers and students that were absent that day.

This act of intimidation was received as a reminder to schools that the Ministry of Education is in fact watching their political activities.

The Follow-Up Committee on Arab Education, an Israeli organization founded in 1984 to advocate for and protect Arab education in Israel, have vocalized their opposition to the law and dedication to Palestinians’ right to observe national days that form cultural and collective memory.

In the past, Palestinian schools have worked with their mayors and local councils to develop lesson plans, activities and video screenings to memorialize the Nakba. Since the passing of the “Nakba Law,” FUCAE is working with legal organizations, Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Adalah, to understand how Palestinian schools will be able to recognize their historical narrative without incurring heavy fines.

On Friday, protests were held in Cairo and Amman and Gaza and the West Bank. Israeli security was tight, and one youth from Silwan died early this morning from a gunshot wound to his stomach. In the areas around East Jerusalem particularly, clashes took place between Palestinians and the Israeli forces, resulting in the arrest of 34 people.

And now onto the Third Palestinian Intifada. It all started on Facebook after getting inspired by the Arab revolutions. Fans numbered almost 300,000 when Facebook decided to pull the page after a couple of whiners were concerned about the anti-Semitic message the page was giving out. In its place, dozens of the Third Palestinian Intifada pages appeared. We don't know how exactly this proposed intifada will pan out, but Mahmoud Abbas is determined that no intifada will happen under his festering reign, stating that anyone who wants to carry out "armed resistance" should do so away from the Palestinian people. Some people just don't know when to stop sinking so low. We checked out the Facebook page for the intifada, and it included a long-winded mission statement in Arabic that outlined the cause and effects of the first two intifadas and and what the aspirations for the youth or anyone partaking should be and how that in turn should develop and shape their personalities with regards to social, economic, political, cultural, organizational, and gender related issues. From a quick skim, we saw no information about how this imminent third intifada will be implemented.

Matthew Cassel clarifies what will happen on May 15th, which looks like the normal procedure for previous May 15ths. The third intifada is a day where:
...Palestinian activists, political factions and non-governmental organizations, are participating in various coordinated actions to protest Israeli occupation and call for the right of return for some six million Palestinian refugees. The significance of this date is that it is Nakba day — the day Palestinians annually commemorate their ethnic cleansing from Palestine as British forces departed in 1948 and Zionist forces took over much of the country to establish Israel.

We really do not want to belittle the events/actions that are going to take place tomorrow. While it was heartening to hear Jordanians from the village of Karameh shouting "The people want the liberation of Palestine"/"A-sha3b yureed ta7reer falasteen" and even more so that the Egyptians are putting together convoys to effectively break the siege of Gaza once and for all, here in the West Bank we can't but help feel that all this hullabaloo will result in crushing disappointment, much like the one experienced on March 15th. In fact, we have already bet that around three thousand people will show up around the Manara square and other landmarks in the West Bank cities, instead of the hundreds of thousands who are participating rigorously in debates on Facebook pages, posting links and pictures and YouTube videos in a frenzied manner.

Here's what we think will go down tomorrow:

  • Congregation of disappointing amount of people
  • First half hour characterized by emphatic chanting, waving of flags, fist-pumping, etc
  • Adrenaline flows as there seems to be genuine feelings of nationalistic pride
  • Attempted sabotage by the united political factions
  • Blaring loudspeakers play nationalistic songs over and over again as people begin to lose interest and walk away
  • Unleashing of Ramallah perverts, who make sardonic and immensely witty jokes about liberation of Palestine
  • We cry
  • Go home, turn on the news, watch youth who demonstrated at Qalandia checkpoint get tear-gassed and maybe a procession of a martyr or two 
Keep in mind, we made this list not because it's the prototype of what usually goes on in (PA approved) rallies/demonstrations or to be called useless slags who keep on moaning about the incompetence of any type of Palestinian leadership that lacks that stimulating factor, but rather so we can be proved horribly, magnificently wrong. A couple of months ago, there was on article on the al-Jazeera website that asserted that no revolution is likely to take place in Syria anytime soon because of these so and so factors.

We'll be there around the Manara square tomorrow, but this time with no high hopes or expectations. May 15th will be yet another commemorative year, but this won't explode or even ignite the fuse for the Third Intifada. The youth seem to know what they want (an end to division, an end to occupation, liberation of Palestine, calls for democratic elections, etc) but their problem lies in their means to achieve these goals. Again, with March 15th on our minds, copying the tactics of Egypt and Tunisia was not enough. March 15th didn't bring about the reconciliation of Hamas and Fateh. The geopolitical circumstances in surrounding Arab countries did. May 15th will be another year, another day of remembrance, a devastating and amplified reminder that 63 years have gone by, where over 500 villages and 11 urban neighborhoods were completely destroyed and now have thriving Israeli infrastructures built upon the ruins. 


  1. Ya AraBiat: I get the fears of disappointment, and to some extent I see things somewhat worked out that way. But the key here to solving all the issues is to focus on the most important one, the right of return. Look what happened at the Lebanese and Gaza borders today. You had relatively larger numbers there. In Majdal Shams where they even broke through for a bit. And the Israelis are freaking out in new ways. They know that the right of return means the end of their game and exposing them as the Apartheid regime that they are. Focus everything on the right of return, and the whole situation moves forward. Force the PA and Hamas against their will to support the right of return movement, al-awda coalition, BDS movement (which includes right of return as a key demand). The Israelis know how dangerous this is. Fatah and Hamas do too which is why they try to undermine the Awda movement. But its hard for them to do so. The more vocal Awda movement activities are, the harder it is for them to stand up against it, and the more you can force them to back it. Get people in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt to the borders. Knock down fences. Get bulldozers to the wall and knock them down. March out of the West Bank and Gaza camps. Heck, set up new tent camps at the wall and at the borders and at the checkpoints and inside the 48 borders next to the emptied villages. Focus everything on the right of return and the two-state charade and the Zionist fascists and the Palestinian Quislings will all be exposed. But it has to be kept up.

    Ok, now I'm just another anonymous person spewing an opinion from halfway around the world, not on the ground like you. But really, I truly believe sustained action for return is the issue that can overcome all the obstacles. It's not easy, but it is the sword that can cut the Gordian Knot.

  2. Thank you so much for your comment anon! Coupled with the recent revelation (well at least to us) that there is in fact a steady growing youth movement dedicated to non-violent resistance (much like egypt's april 6th movement drew their tactics from otpor) you've really cleared the haze from our mind and infused us with a newfound sense of direction and ATTITUDE! :)