Once the demonstrations were underway in Palestine it seemed both Hamas and Fatah rushed to ‘support’ the demonstrators and called for reconciliation. Except here’s what happened, Hamas’ Ismail Haniyah first declared that he wants to go back to the negotiation tables with Fatah to work towards achieving a solution and end the division, Fatah officials responded by echoing the same concept, pushing for Salam Fayyad’s unity government proposal as a start. Then came the big announcement, President Abbas declared he will visit the Gaza Strip as an effort to end the division, how and when that visit was going to happen I and many are unsure of. The response from Hamas however, has been rather muffled, perhaps Hamas fears that Abbas will stand to gain from his trip to Gaza, especially amongst the demonstrators in Gaza, whom Hamas has violently cracked down on.
We could say that Hamas’ official response was the barrage of rockets that they fired onto Israel three days ago, the highest number of rockets since the Gaza offensive in 2008/2009. Of course Israel responded, and so far the victims are the innocent Gazans and the reconciliation process! After months of relative quiet, why did Hamas choose now to escalate matters with Israel? Their response would probably be ‘to avenge the Hamas member that was killed by Israel last week’, though that wasn’t the rule of conduct in the past. The way I see it, Hamas is willing to escalate matters with Israel, at the expense of innocent women and children, to avoid reconciliation with Fatah.
After the demonstrations in Palestine and across the world, I decided I should support my fellow Palestinian youth and demonstrate in NYC. Sadly, the demonstration (pictures below) was rather smaller than I expected, at some point I felt the security presence was larger than the demonstrators, however I decided to stick there till the end. Getting over my initial disappointment, I managed to meet and talk to some interesting people with many differing views . I managed to have some discussions with a few of them and the prevalent sentiment that I walked away with is their demand to dismantle the Palestinian Authority. That I must say unnerved me slightly, so I decided to write a post on why I disagree with this notion. However, I ended up going to a Mahmoud Darwish recital with the presence of Marcel Khalifah, both who are dear to my heart, and an opportunity I could not miss out on. As it is now almost 3 am, I will leave this matter for now and write an in-depth post soon, explaining why dismantling the PA may just be a bad idea now. Till then enjoy the pictures 🙂
The protests in Palestine have begun! I wish the Palestinian youth the best of luck in their endeavors.
While Egyptians were making their stand in Tahrir Square, a number of Facebook groups started appearing calling for the ‘End of the Division between Fatah and Hamas’, ‘End of the Israeli occupation’ and even calls to ‘Dismantle the Palestinian Authority’. At first glance these groups seemed no different than the Facebook groups that emerged during the Gaza Offensive or the Flotilla incident who immediately lost significance the moment the incidents ended. However, taking a deeper look at the current groups shows a change amongst the Palestinian youth calling for action.
March 15th was the date set by the Palestinian youth not only in the West Bank and Gaza, but also those living in Israel and the Diaspora to rise up and demand an end to the division between the two warring factions Fatah and Hamas. Since I am writing this before the 15th, it is yet uncertain whether this movement will succeed in getting its demands answered. Even so, I am not about to write the movement off too quickly, and neither should you, here is why:
The emerging youth activists have distanced themselves from all political factions that have dominated the Palestinian political landscape for decades. That alone is an achievement, for in recent years youth activism has been in decline and any form of activism was attributed to the political parties.
Additionally, the revolutions spreading across the Middle East have fueled this movement. The successes of both the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions have provided a feeling of hope and supported the notion that when united and committed anything is possible. In fact, one Palestinian youth activist told me “We are in this till the end” echoing what Arab rebels have been saying in the past two months.
Although lack of coordination and organization has always plagued Palestinian movements, the availability of social media such as Facebook and Twitter, has made organizing easier. Gaza and West Bank youth who lack the physical connection, due to the Israeli occupation, have used these social networks to organize and coordinate with each other. BUT! I would not go as far as calling it a Facebook movement, much of the organizing has also occurred offline, especially since the Palestinian civil society joined the movement, adding further leverage to the youth’s demands and shifting it away from cyberspace.
Yet, with all these unique changes, I still remain skeptical as to how successful the movement will be. The divide between both Hamas and Fatah is a complicated affair and will require more than demonstrations to overcome it. There are also fears within the movement that both parties will attempt to hijack the demonstrations, Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank. Hamas has already gone as far as arresting members of the Gaza Youth Movement. These arrests were made possible due to social networks, the double-edged sword, that has provided information on both the movement’s plans and organizers putting this movement at risk. More importantly, this movement is different than its counterparts in the Middle East, due to the fact that the Palestinians face numerous challenges, namely the Israeli occupation and the fact that Palestinians still remain stateless. Whilst Arabs revolt against their dictators, Palestinians have to live their daily life under occupation. These challenges can create numerous differing opinions, which threaten the unity of the movement.
In conclusion, time will tell if this movement will succeed. Even if it fails, we should not write it off too quickly as it is part of a new and unique change that is taking over the Palestinian landscape, charged with the energy and optimism of the youth.