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Part 3: Palestinian youth revolt – Any role for political parties?

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By: Al-Shabaka

Al-Shabaka is an independent non-profit organization whose mission is to educate and foster public debate on Palestinian human rights and self-determination within the framework of international law.The following is the third segment of a five-part publication on the current absence of authentic Palestinian national leadership and the current youth uprising against Israel’s prolonged military occupation and denial of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT).The segment is authored by Nijmeh Ali, a Palestinian from Haifa currently working on her PhD at the National Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at Otago University, New Zealand. Her focus is on the Palestinian citizens of Israel as an indigenous people,The Palestinian youth that have taken to the streets are initiating an important phase in responding to the Israeli occupation and to injustice, indicating the significant role the younger generations could play replacing the current leadership.However, the question remains: is the new generation capable of bringing the uprising or wave of anger from the street into political or diplomatic spheres? The problem lies in the failure to revolt against the traditional Palestinian leaderships of Fatah, Hamas and the left: This is what is needed in order to transform the spirit of revolution into diplomatic and political results.The Palestinian political parties are currently acting like parties everywhere: They are weighing the political gains they can reap from this wave of anger, such as resuming negotiations with Israel. They are not acting like revolutionary parties fighting a battle for liberation, and are out of line with the public mood. Thus, the parties are likely to erect obstacles rather than to support the youth uprising or any other action outside established institutional frameworks such as the factions armed wings. Uncontrolled actions do not benefit political parties because they cannot steer them.The issue is not about creating a new space within or outside the PLO. It is also about changing the political behavior of Palestinians as a people affiliated with existing political bodies. It is imperative to transcend the narrow partisan affiliations have entrenched the internal Palestinian division and weakened the PLO. The popular wave of anger is an open rebellion against such narrow affiliations and an expression of the need to reinforce national as opposed to partisan attachments.However, given this reality and the deepening partisan division, it would have been more promising had the youth rebelled against the current political leaderships and replaced them with younger leaders with political energy, confidence and vigor.Local leaders have never been isolated from their central leaderships: Fatah and Hamas, for example, are mass political movements rather than political parties in the traditional sense. Therefore, one does not envisage a scenario in which an independent popular movement could emerge, even though popular committees could be established as was the case in the first Intifada. It is worth noting that the unified national leadership of that Intifada was formed by political actors who espoused common political goals and a vision centered on ending the occupation as a fundamental step towards liberation.In short, we need a Palestinian spring within the Palestinian parties rather than alternative political frameworks that would reinforce the division and the narrow partisanship. Without rebellion from the youth within the Palestinian political parties, no uprising will effect real political change. The sacrifices of the Palestinian people will go to waste, increasing the frustration with their sense of helplessness. It would be truly alarming if this frustration slowly kills the Palestinians’ faith in their power to become liberated.

(Source / 26.11.2015)

Written by altahrir

November 26, 2015 at 11:30 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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Number of Palestinians martyred since October 1 hits 100

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The number of Palestinians who have been killed by Israeli occupation forces (IOF) since October 1 has risen to 102.

The 21-year-old Palestinian youth Yahya Yosri Taha was shot and killed during clashes with the Israeli occupation soldiers on Thursday, bringing the number of Palestinians killed in Israeli attacks since early October to 100, including 23 children and four girls.

Later, Israeli soldiers stationed at the Za’tara checkpoint south of Nablus city cold-bloodedly killed the 51-year-old Palestinian Samer Sarisi at the pretext he tried to carry out a stabbing attack.

Medical sources affirmed that the soldiers at the checkpoint prevented ambulance crews from entering the area to evacuate the man or provide him with medical assistance if he was still alive.

On Thursday evening, the 19-year-old Khaled Jawabra was shot and killed by Israeli occupation forces during confrontations at al-Aroub refugee camp in Hebron.

Local sources said that clashes erupted between Palestinian demonstrators and IOF soldiers in the camp during which the IOF fired live bullets and teargas canisters, where Jawabra was fatally hit with multiple bullets in his torso.

Israeli authorities still withhold and refuse to handover bodies of 32 Palestinians killed during the intifada.

(Source / 26.11.2015)

Written by altahrir

November 26, 2015 at 11:27 pm

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Hamas calls for wide participation in Friday of anger

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The Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas in West Bank has urged the Palestinians in the occupied lands to participate actively in the Friday of anger protests and marches against the occupation, which will be organized following the midday prayers tomorrow.

In a press release on Wednesday, Hamas called for doubling the pressure on the Israeli occupation and expanding the confrontations with its forces on Fridays.

“The occupation’s persistence in detaining the martyrs’ bodies, attacking the Aqsa Mosque, and assaulting its worshipers and activists entail widespread popular moves and solid resistance to pressure the occupation and disperse its security and military forces to different West Bank provinces,” the Statement said.

It highlighted that the heroic operations in the West Bank, which deal painful blows to the occupation, would pave the way to liberation and freedom, calling on the revolting youths in the occupied lands to invent new ways able to inflict more losses on the occupation.

(Source / 26.11.2015)

Written by altahrir

November 26, 2015 at 9:38 pm

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Palestinian film directors face social, political obstacles

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A cameraman films Umm Bushra for a documentary film called “Bread, the Source of Life,” by Gazan director Samar Abu Elouf, Oct. 25, 2013

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Eighty-year-old Umm Bushra hangs the bread on a clothesline and waits for it to dry. She then sells it to whoever owns chickens, and then she spends the little income — about 5 shekels ($1.29) a day — she gets from it on herself as she lives alone without a husband or son. This all plays out in a scene from a documentary film produced by a young Gazan.

Umm Bushra’s life was the theme of a documentary film titled “Bread, the Source of Life,” directed by the young Samar Abu Elouf, who participated in the 2013 United Nations Relief and Works Agency’s (UNRWA’s) Clothes Line Competition held in Ramallah. The documentary placed fourth.

Abu Elouf, 32, told Al-Monitor that the movie holds a message of hope, as it depicts the insistence of an elderly lady who lives in al-Shati refugee camp, west of Gaza City, to work and spend her money on herself. The elderly lady’s hope reflects that of the young director who is seeking a sponsor for her future documentaries. She did not succeed in getting funding to produce her first documentary, relying on friends to complete it instead.

“Directors who won global or Arab awards for their documentaries face many difficulties in traveling to attending their honoring ceremonies or participating in film festivals in which their works are nominated,” she said, adding, “We face many obstacles while producing movies, including the lack of funding, the weak capacities we have and our missed opportunities to travel to the countries where the documentary film festivals take place. This is because of the ongoing closing of the Rafah crossing, while Israel continues to prevent Gazan youth from leaving through the Erez crossing.”

Young director Mohammad Awais, 22, was nominated this year in the 2015 Al-Jazeera Documentary Film Festival in Qatar for his movie “I Hope So.” However, he could not travel to participate in the festival.

The narrative of “I Hope So” revolves around a young man named Mustafa al-Far, from Gaza, who communicates with his Italian girlfriend, Linda, on social media, as he cannot visit or see her, given the closing of the Rafah crossing and the strict travel measures on the youths through the Erez crossing. He uses selfies to show her his daily life, and the photos he captures with his new cellphone reflect the major problems in Gaza, like unemployment, delayed reconstruction and destruction after the 2014 Israeli war.

This true story inspired Awais’ documentary.

“The ideas that young directors tackle express the reality of the situation in general, and their ambitions, dreams and desires are hidden in the details of the stories they tell. However, their ambitions are hampered by the tough reality, which makes the documentaries they film quite touching,” Awais said.

Director I’timad Washah, who trains directors and is the video program coordinator at the Women’s Affairs’ Center in Gaza, believes that young directors produce documentary films that reflect society. After having trained several directors, she noticed their affinity for national ideas that everybody in Gaza agrees on. Meanwhile, they avoid tackling somesensitive social issues such as honor killings, incest and sexual mutilation, to avoid negative criticism.

“The political aspect that prevails over social life in Gaza and the special social circumstances — in terms of relations between cousins and family members — that characterize this society are reflected in documentary films, which focus on one aspect: the national cause, the fight against the occupation and the struggle of Gazans. However, it is possible to deviate from the political framework and seek ideas that touch on the youths’ real problems in Gaza, such as unemployment,” said Washah.

Washah contributed to the 2013 production of a documentary film about the hymen titled “Red Spot,” and its director, Rima Abu Sobha, was the target of a lot of negative criticism. Directors who are trained by Washah face this sort of criticism all the time, because she trains them to push society’s narrow limits and seek ideas that people can really relate to.

“Documentary films are missing in Gaza, compared to the number of young directors who are trained or produce films. This is due to the absence of institutions supporting this type of art and to the lack of funding,” Washah said, adding that “young directors personally fund their documentary films. Most of those who receive funding are in contact with Western funding organizations and produce the film as part of a certain project.”

The directors of documentary films that are nominated for Arab and international festivals have to communicate with the organizers of film festivals online, because their chances to travel are rare. Many of them weren’t lucky enough to attend their honoring ceremony for awards they win, including Washah. The Spain Documentary Film Festival translated Washah’s movies on women, which will be screened in Spanish during the festival that started Nov. 17. But she could not attend the festival, as she could not get a Spanish visa.

With the weak capacities and the lack of funding and support for documentary film directors, the market of documentary films offers limited productions that are not in line with the number of trained directors who are enduring bad social and political circumstances in Gaza. Their only leeway is their thoughts, through which they can transmit their opinions to the world and aspire to a future full of opportunities.

(Source / 25.11.2015)

Written by altahrir

November 25, 2015 at 9:08 pm

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How the Palestinian diaspora is reacting to unrest in the West Bank

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An Egyptian holds flags of Egypt and Palestine during a protest against Israel’s ongoing military operations, Cairo, Nov. 15, 2012

CAIRO — Although the roots of the latest unrest in Israel and Palestine remain disputed — an arson attack by settlers against the Dawabshe family, purported Palestinian hatred and anti-Semitism, or decades of Israeli occupation — since September, headlines from Jerusalem have dominated the international news cycle.

Although those stories have since been relegated to the back pages, chiefly by the Islamic State’s (IS) Nov. 13 attacks on Paris and the ongoing bloodshed and negotiations surrounding the Syrian conflict, Palestinians are still navigating their way through the unrest.

A poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey (PCS) conducted Sept. 17-19 found that, in the absence of a viable peace process, 57% of Palestinians surveyed supported a return to an armed intifada. At the same time, 42% believed that armed action would be the “most effective means to establish a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel,” and 29% “believed in the efficacy of negotiations.”

At the same time, few such polls exist for the estimated 5 million officially recognized descendants of Palestinian refugees in the Middle East eligible for assistance by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in the Near East, or the estimated 11 million total in the global diaspora.

Some Palestinians in the diaspora — many with a strong sense of national identity but enforced detachment from their homeland — remain uncertain about the future. There is not always much space for the myriad views from the diaspora, dictated in part by the different experiences Palestinians outside the Palestinian territories actually face.

Two descendants of Palestinian refugees in Cairo, both with their own experiences of displacement, activism and the search for identity, spoke to Al-Monitor about the experience of watching developments unfold in Israel and the occupied territories while living outside [of it].

Salwa, a civil society worker in Cairo who asked for her real name to be withheld because of the nature of her work, told Al-Monitor that the images of slain Palestinian teenagers had initially made her “more militant.”

She said, “My belief in a peaceful resolution is starting to fade. I feel so frustrated. I believe in nonviolence, but it’s taking so much time that by the time it will start influencing politicians and creating political change, it will be too late. There will be no Palestine left.”

“It’s like giving painkillers to someone who is dying. It removes the pain, but that person is still going to die,” Salwa added, describing the role of nonviolent resistance in an increasingly violent landscape. At the same time, she is unsure about how best to participate or effect change.

During the 1948 Nakba (Catastrophe), Salwa’s family was displaced to Lebanon. Salwa was born in Beirut’s Shatila refugee camp just weeks after the 1982 massacre carried out by Christian Phalanges militias under the eyes of the Israeli army. By 1984, the family had claimed asylum in northern Europe after Salwa’s brother transited through East Germany and on to another country — almost a presage of the kind of journeys being made by refugees fleeing violence, repression and terrorism in the Levant today.

Mahmoud Sameh, who leads the PLO-affiliated Bilad as-Sham choir, told Al-Monitor that his Palestinian-Egyptian roots and the political situation he has witnessed firsthand in Egypt inform his sense of identity and response to recent events in the Palestinian territories. The son of a Palestinian mother and Egyptian father, he is not officially Palestinian (according to Egyptian patriarchal birth rights and UNRWA’s own definition of “Palestine refugees”) but, through songs, he has created a strong sense of identity. “I’m more attached to my Palestinian side,” he said.

“Most Egyptians wouldn’t be involved in something in such a way, but being in the choir made me feel things,” Sameh told Al-Monitor. “When you sing you feel things, and for the Palestinians who settled in Egypt it’s like a community.”

He added, “We gather together, we sing together. The choir was founded on the idea of struggling — not just through weapons, but struggling through art too.”

In her 2005 ethnography, “Palestinians Born in Exile: Diaspora and the Search for a Homeland,” US academic Juliane Hammer interviewed dozens of young Palestinians who returned after the 1993 Oslo Accord and who had never lived in Palestine before.

Meant to show “the young faces of the Palestinian diaspora, those who had to create their Palestinian identity without having lived in Palestine,” Hammer found that Palestinians in the diaspora “do have a sense of a shared national identity.” On the other hand, growing up in different countries and cultures influenced each person’s identity. “Such factors as class, economic and legal status, and political affiliation” did the same, Hammer wrote.

At the same time, Diana Allan’s 2014 ethnography of Beirut’s Shatila camp, “Refugees of the Revolution,” argues that “in the stereotypes of nationalist discourse, refugees are the stoic, ‘steadfast’ embodiment of a people who refuse to disappear.”

She argues that such a singular nationalist discourse erases the different localized and often dour socio-economic struggles that Palestinians in the diaspora face, as in Lebanon for example, on a day-to-day basis.

“Much has been written on the ways refugees relate to the past,” Allan writes later, “and very little on how they orient themselves to the future.”

Evidently, no one thinks the same. About the future, Sameh is fearful. Salwa seems more determined, albeit with an air of caution.

Having participated in the Egyptian revolution since 2011, sometimes taking the choir down to Tahrir Square to sing Palestinian national songs, Sameh is apprehensive about the direction in which he says Palestinian protesters and activists may be headed.

“What I see is exactly like what happened in Egypt. Remember Mohamed Mahmoud?” he said, referring to violent clashes between Egyptian protesters and police in downtown Cairo in November 2011. “People are throwing stones, and when the police feel in danger or feel that the people are gaining the advantage, they just shoot. They kill someone and you just lose out.”

He added, “I don’t see any success — except maybe that the [Palestinian] youth have gone outside without any political parties or names involved. And this is what scares me about the future.”

Sameh explains how his sister cries when she watches news of Palestinians being shot on the TV news. “I stopped watching the news on TV,” he told Al-Monitor. “When you see the events, your mood is ruined. You can’t support and you can’t help.” He describes a feeling of hopelessness.

Salwa, on the other hand, thinks the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is one of the few options left for Palestinians in the diaspora to participate — a way of connecting with a “nonviolent call coming out of Palestine” and the many Palestinians living outside.

“Either you’re there or you’re not,” she told Al-Monitor. “The only thing you can do [from outside] is to put pressure on your own country or the place you live in.”

(Source / 24.11.2015)

Written by altahrir

November 24, 2015 at 10:29 pm

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On the Banning of the Islamic Movement in 48 Palestine

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History has proven that the stupidest measure any occupying power anywhere can take is to strip an effective and influential political and social movement from all of its gains and its public activities. This means that the occupying power will push this movement to a point where it no longer has anything physical to lose – whether that be institutions, headquarters, associations, or any facility in which it exercises its public activities – and where it no longer needs to abide by specific rules in order to avoid being outlawed or harshly persecuted.

This is exactly the strategy that has been adopted by the Israeli occupation against the Islamic Movement in 48 Palestine, led by Sheikh Raed Salah. All of the headquarters of the movement’s preaching, media, relief and sports organisations were raided, it was declared a banned movement, and its leader was taken in for questioning. These measures are not expected to be the only action taken against the Movement, as Israel expected to expand and progress to additional forms of persecution and prosecution, including authorising the arrest of the Movement’s key figures. Despite the fact that such measures are not entirely new, in the past Israel preferred to let the Movement carry out its public activities as long as they did not carry out any physical resistance activities.

However, it seems that the Movement’s recent achievements in the Occupied Territories have sounded off Israel’s danger alarm. This is because the Islamic Movement has deep and influential roots in the Arab community, since it has contributed to maintaining Palestinian’s Muslim and Arab identity by means of preaching, political, cultural and services activities. It also worked to raise the level of the community’s affiliation with its cause, starting with the key issue of Al-Aqsa Mosque. Sheikh Raed and his colleague have become icons of the Al-Aqsa cause, and they have arguably been the reason behind the plight of Al-Aqsa becoming a touchstone for the entire Muslim nation. The violations at Al-Aqsa have become a red line that warrants the outbreak of uprisings and intifadas over the past few years.

As for the Islamic Movement’s discourse, it is very clear in its hostile language against the occupation and in defining the role it believes Palestinians and Muslims must play in order to defend their sanctities. Therefore, it is only natural that Israel would declare war on the Movement because it represents is a thorn in the side of the occupation and because its popularity is growing, not falling day the day. This is due to the fact that the Palestinian masses have experienced the Movement’s honesty, authenticity and perseverance, and felt its clear impact on their reality on a number of levels.

With regards to the potential consequences of the occupation’s recent measures, this is the last thing we should concern ourselves with at the current tie because these measures are a formality that will only impact the Movement’s physical and visual activities. We also shouldn’t be concerned because the Movement targets a deeply rooted and widespread idea and because bans and persecution will only lead the supporters of this movement to other forms of struggle against the occupation. These forms will not be concerned with physical considerations will are not be hindered by fear of consequences.

The occupation already banned Hamas in Palestine a year after it was formed. It arrested thousands of its leaders and members and its campaigns against the movement grew progressively harsher and more brutal as the years went on, including assassinations, arrests, confiscations and persecution. What has been the result of this after all these years? The movement did not disappear; its project was not hindered, and the masses did not turn against it. Instead, its choice to resist renews itself in every phase and it grows, developing new ideas and activities. Now Israel has made the mistake of attempting the same measures against the Islamic Movement in 48 Palestine. This can only fuel the Movement’s cause in the long term.

(Source / 22.11.2015)

Written by altahrir

November 22, 2015 at 9:21 pm

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Meet the young volunteer medics on the frontlines of West Bank protests

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From a rooftop in Azza refugee camp near Bethlehem, Hashem al Massaid can see trails of tear gas cascade from the sky into the alleyways below. The gas seeps into homes and through narrow streets until it merges with the thick fog already carpeting the ground.

Massaid, 16, has arrived to clashes at Azza refugee camp straight from school. He has to study for a physics exam later, but for the next few hours he is a volunteer paramedic with the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS).

For Massaid and his PMRS colleagues, providing medical assistance to protesters injured during violent clashes between Palestinians and Israelis is intertwined with daily life.

Since the beginning of October, PMRS volunteers have been working overtime. More than 83 Palestinians and 12 Israelis have died in a wave of unrest across the West Bank Gaza and East Jerusalem.

“Since October, the fight is getting stronger. It’s the strongest we have seen. More people are injured. We usually treat 50 to 70 people affected by tear gas, but if the clashes are stronger, it can be up to 150,” Massaid told the Palestine Monitor.

PMRS volunteers treat tear gas victims using first aid kits and oxygen tanks. Often, tear gas is not only directed at protesters, but also the nearby refugee camps, engulfing the neighborhood.

PMRS volunteers from Bethlehem

“As volunteers, we do not just work in the streets where the clashes are. We also have to go into the houses and help evacuate people near the clashes who are affected by the tear gas,” explained Abed Ghareep, a 21 year old PMRS paramedic working alongside Massaid.

In one family home, a mother looks on as her son lies on the floor, chest heaving, as he struggles to breathe from the tear gas that has infiltrated their living room. The atmosphere is frantic, but Ghareep remains calm. He places an oxygen mask over the man’s face, massaging his chest, reciting the words, “breathe, breathe, breathe.”

As quickly as Massaid’s team arrives, they rush back to the frontlines of the clash or the next family whose home has been consumed by gas.

Many of PMRS’ patients are children, for whom tear gas can be fatal. Oct 30. an eight-month-old Palestinian baby died after inhaling teargas inside his family home in Beit Fajjar, a village south of Bethlehem.

In one home that that paramedic team arrives to with oxygen tanks, a two-year-old girl is asleep on the sofa in her house, unshaken by the sounds of her 7-month-old sister wailing next to her. The family tries to comfort her, the remnants of tear gas still lingering in the air and making it hard to breathe.

“If she hadn’t been treated she would be dead otherwise, absolutely,” said Ghareep, after he had left the home.

Massaid and his colleauges face a range of risks in the field. Most say they have been shot at, either by live or rubber bullets. One young medic laughs as he holds up his finger, half the nail ripped off from when he was shot with a rubber bullet just days previous.

“All of us have been hit with bullets. One of my friends was shot in the leg with a live bullet last month. We were carrying him, to help him, and the Israeli soldiers fired at us as we were carrying him,” said Massaid.

The group of young Palestinian paramedics share the experiences of the people they assist, providing a sense of trust between them and those in need of medical support. Having grown up in Bethlehem, the PMRS volunteers are familiar with the frequent clashes and the local communities they affect.

“The success we have here is that people start to trust us and open up their houses to us. If anything happens to them, they come to us. We are young but the community here trust us to help them,” said Ghareep.

Massaid’s phone rings. It’s his mother, calling to tell him to be careful and make sure he is safe.

“When I first started I didn’t tell her,” he said.

“But now she knows this is part of me and I am going to do it,” he said. “These guys [at the protests] and the paramedics, we are one. We are in this together and I want to help any way I can.”

(Source / 21.11.2015)

Written by altahrir

November 21, 2015 at 11:43 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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