Wednesday, 12 January 2011


Karma Nabulsi on the facebook group:
'Gaza Youth Break Out'

Last weekend the Observer carried a dramatic account of ‘The Gaza Youth Manifesto’, written in English by a handful of young people in Gaza and posted on Facebook. Given the thousands of people in the West who have said they ‘like’ it on Facebook or posted positive comments, the manifesto is said to herald a new movement for change in occupied Palestine.

Because of Palestinians’ lengthy predicament of expulsion, dispossession and military occupation, there is a rich tradition of Palestinian manifestos and declarations: hundreds of them have been written since 1948. ‘Bayan Harakatina’ (‘Our Movement’s Statement’, 1959) played an important role in recruiting the first wave of young people to the Palestinian National Liberation Movement-Fateh, and in unifying their political consciousness. It was distributed clandestinely, ‘entrusting’ its readers with the key ideas of the new movement. Later documents, such as the founding manifesto of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (1967), were distributed more openly. These manifestos were written by organised Palestinian youth as mobilising documents, exclusively for young Palestinians.

Manifestos have been written by everyone: ‘Workers of Palestine Unite’ was issued by the General Provisional Committee of the Workers of Palestine in 1962; the Unified National Command of the Intifada released 46 communiqués between 1988 and 1990; ‘The Palestinian Civil Society Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel’ was published on 9 July 2005; ‘The Palestine Manifesto’ was published last year by the National Committee for the Defence of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People; dozens of statements have been issued by right of return committees in the refugee camps since 1998; Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails, from all parties, released the now famous ‘National Reconciliation Document’ in 2006.

Palestinian manifestos and declarations tend to do four things: 1. engage critically with the current situation and its historical context; 2. outline a response, clearly stating the principles that should underpin it; 3. announce the emergence of an organised group to carry out that response; and 4. call on Palestinian youth to join the movement. The wording is careful and has usually been negotiated at length between a variety of people and organisations. In short, the manifestos are purposive and geared towards some form of collective action.

The ‘Gaza Youth Breaks Out’ manifesto does not belong to this tradition: it does not put forth any clear analysis of the current historical situation, or outline a response to it. It does not declare the existence of an organised group, or invite anyone to join anything. Its tone is denunciatory rather than analytical. Its language is apolitical: the terminology of resistance common to Palestinian manifestos is replaced here by use of the f-word. And it lacks any mobilisational dimension. It’s unsurprising, then, that it has received little attention in the Arab world. The most extensive report on it appeared in Al Akhbar in Lebanon, which more or less reprinted the piece from the Observer.

If this manifesto does not belong to the Palestinian tradition of declarations, then what tradition does it belong to? Clearly it captures the despair and horror of life in Gaza today, and the young people behind it have every right to post their appeals and complaints on Facebook or wherever they like. But without being rooted in any particular or collective vision of change, the three demands articulated in the manifesto – ‘We want to be free. We want to be able to live a normal life. We want peace’ – are meaningless. Perhaps this is why it is so attractive to those who have read it on Facebook, and the European and American media who have taken it up. It caters to western tastes and desires, especially to the fantasy of a digitally connected youth emerging from cyberspace as agents of transformative change in the real world. In the case of Palestine, this fantasy does a number of things besides soothing guilty consciences. It reframes the issue of justice for Palestine in vacuous and unthreatening terms, casts the method by which change may occur into virtual space, and empties the Palestinian body politic of the thoughtfully articulated demands of its millions of citizens.


Some questions for "Gaza Youth Break Out"
From Sukant Chandan, Sons of Malcolm

The group's page is this.

[I am not Palestinian, I am a supporter of the Palestinians peoples Revolution]

In a spirit of brothers and sisterly discussion with a view of unity of all our forces, esp those in the Palestinian Revolution I ask these questions.

A few questions to this group and their supporters:
Arent we disrespecting those 100,000s of Palestinians who voted for Hamas in one of the most democratic elections to ever take place in the region by joining you in saying "f*** Hamas"?

Would there *even be* a Palestinian struggle if it wasnt for those Palestinians who spilled their blood and gave their lives for the Revolution through organisations such as Hamas, Fatah, PFLP, DFLP, Palestinian Islamic Jihad etc?

What about the thousands of prisoners, many affiliated to Hamas and other groups which are being denounced here? Are they lesser people than this youth group? Why arent we making concrete links with them and raising their issues with a view of supporting the Palestinian Revolution and freedom?

Instead of cussing out all the Palestinian organisations, wouldnt it be better to call for dialogue, understanding and UNITY between the Palestinians organisations, then lumping them together with the enemy?

The PFLP, DFLP and Palestinan Islamic Jihad call for this unity, and Hamas engage in this discussion, as do Fatah to some extent.

Why arent we encouraging links with other youth and student organisations in Gaza who represent thousands and thousands of students and youth? Is this GYBO group more important than them?

For western-based activists supporting this group:
One of the Gaza-based members has already stated that they are keeping the ID hidden for fear of reprisals. Isnt it very dangerous for western-based students to be meddling in the most brutal and intense revolutionary people and struggle (ie., those in Gaza)? Especially if it is to do with interfering in contradictions in Gaza society which can lead to a worsening of tensions between the masses in Gaza?

I have had dealings with youth in Gaza who have had problems with Hamas and other more radical Islamists because frankly of a lot of silly behaviour (I am not at all saying this group has been responsible for any silly behaviour); the point I am making is that we are meddling in issues that are much more grave, serious and explosive than most people can imagine. This being the case, we have to proceed with utmost caution, always stressing the unity of the Palestinian people in their revolutionary fight for freedom.

Wouldnt it be better to encourage unity unity and unity again amongst the Palestinian masses and their organisations?

This group in its statement admits that overthrowing Hamas was one of the main aims of the bloody operation cast lead. And seeing that criminalising Hamas is one of the main things the empire and the zionist state wants, doesnt this initiative fail to counter this primary project of empire?

Doesnt this initiative have the danger of causing confusion, division and negative fall out in the solidarity movements in the west?

Other additional points:

This Shayek Youth Group and the instance of problems with some Hamas (police I assume?):
We have one side of the story, we *at least* need to know Hamas' if not other peoples side of the story as well. This is only fair if those youth in Gaza want to internationalise this issue. I suggest they dont, but its their right if they want to do so, but then we should be allowed to understand the whole picture.

with revolutionary love and solidarity

Sons of Malcolm

No comments: