‘We will break free from this mental prison and regain our dignity’
In this posting, 1) Manifesto 1; 2) Manifesto 2;) Abu Yazan from GYBO on their manifesto; 4) MarkLeVine on GYBO.
By Gaza Youth Break Out
Fuck Israel. Fuck Hamas. Fuck Fatah. Fuck UN. Fuck UNRWA. Fuck USA! We, the youth in Gaza, are so fed up with Israel, Hamas, Fatah, the occupation, the violations of human rights and the indifference of the international community! We want to scream and break this wall of silence, injustice and indifference like the Israeli F16’s breaking the wall of sound; scream with all the power in our souls in order to release this immense frustration that consumes us because of this fucking situation we live in; we are like lice between two nails living a nightmare inside a nightmare, no room for hope, no space for freedom. We are sick of being caught in this political struggle; sick of coal dark nights with airplanes circling above our homes; sick of innocent farmers getting shot in the buffer zone because they are taking care of their lands; sick of bearded guys walking around with their guns abusing their power, beating up or incarcerating young people demonstrating for what they believe in; sick of the wall of shame that separates us from the rest of our country and keeps us imprisoned in a stamp-sized piece of land; sick of being portrayed as terrorists, homemade fanatics with explosives in our pockets and evil in our eyes; sick of the indifference we meet from the international community, the so-called experts in expressing concerns and drafting resolutions but cowards in enforcing anything they agree on; we are sick and tired of living a shitty life, being kept in jail by Israel, beaten up by Hamas and completely ignored by the rest of the world.
There is a revolution growing inside of us, an immense dissatisfaction and frustration that will destroy us unless we find a way of canalizing this energy into something that can challenge the status quo and give us some kind of hope. The final drop that made our hearts tremble with frustration and hopelessness happened 30th November, when Hamas’ officers came to Sharek Youth Forum, a leading youth organization (www.sharek.ps) with their guns, lies and aggressiveness, throwing everybody outside, incarcerating some and prohibiting Sharek from working. A few days later, demonstrators in front of Sharek were beaten and some incarcerated. We are really living a nightmare inside a nightmare. It is difficult to find words for the pressure we are under. We barely survived the Operation Cast Lead, where Israel very effectively bombed the shit out of us, destroying thousands of homes and even more lives and dreams. They did not get rid of Hamas, as they intended, but they sure scared us forever and distributed post traumatic stress syndrome to everybody, as there was nowhere to run.
We are youth with heavy hearts. We carry in ourselves a heaviness so immense that it makes it difficult to us to enjoy the sunset. How to enjoy it when dark clouds paint the horizon and bleak memories run past our eyes every time we close them? We smile in order to hide the pain. We laugh in order to forget the war. We hope in order not to commit suicide here and now. During the war we got the unmistakable feeling that Israel wanted to erase us from the face of the earth. During the last years Hamas has been doing all they can to control our thoughts, behaviour and aspirations. We are a generation of young people used to face missiles, carrying what seems to be a impossible mission of living a normal and healthy life, and only barely tolerated by a massive organization that has spread in our society as a malicious cancer disease, causing mayhem and effectively killing all living cells, thoughts and dreams on its way as well as paralyzing people with its terror regime. Not to mention the prison we live in, a prison sustained by a so-called democratic country.
History is repeating itself in its most cruel way and nobody seems to care. We are scared. Here in Gaza we are scared of being incarcerated, interrogated, hit, tortured, bombed, killed. We are afraid of living, because every single step we take has to be considered and well-thought, there are limitations everywhere, we cannot move as we want, say what we want, do what we want, sometimes we even cant think what we want because the occupation has occupied our brains and hearts so terrible that it hurts and it makes us want to shed endless tears of frustration and rage!
We do not want to hate, we do not want to feel all of this feelings, we do not want to be victims anymore. ENOUGH! Enough pain, enough tears, enough suffering, enough control, limitations, unjust justifications, terror, torture, excuses, bombings, sleepless nights, dead civilians, black memories, bleak future, heart aching present, disturbed politics, fanatic politicians, religious bullshit, enough incarceration! WE SAY STOP! This is not the future we want!
We want three things. We want to be free. We want to be able to live a normal life. We want peace. Is that too much to ask? We are a peace movement consistent of young people in Gaza and supporters elsewhere that will not rest until the truth about Gaza is known by everybody in this whole world and in such a degree that no more silent consent or loud indifference will be accepted.
This is the Gazan youth’s manifesto for change!
We will start by destroying the occupation that surrounds ourselves, we will break free from this mental incarceration and regain our dignity and self respect. We will carry our heads high even though we will face resistance. We will work day and night in order to change these miserable conditions we are living under. We will build dreams where we meet walls.
We only hope that you – yes, you reading this statement right now! – can support us. In order to find out how, please write on our wall or contact us directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
We want to be free, we want to live, we want peace.
FREE GAZA YOUTH!
If you want to help, here are some ways for now:
- Promoting our manifesto by sharing it
- Sending an email to your friends asking them to join us in our different social accounts (Facebook, Twitter)
- Translating the manifesto to your language and sending it to us
- Sending the manifesto to journalists in your country
- Making organizations in your countries that are concerned with the Palestinian issue and/or youth rights know about our existence
- Posting links about violation of youth’s rights in Gaza on our wall
- Planning an event in your country about this issue and/or organizing for a skype conference, where we are able to talk with a group of youth, politicians or others outside Gaza
- Suggesting us ideas for reaching out to a greater number of people
By Gaza Youth Breaks Out
The previous manifesto seems to have grown bigger than expected; many supported us, many others stood firmly against us, and very few stayed indifferent. Everyone had an opinion, yet rarely did they listen to others’ and in the middle of that mess, our own voice remained unheard.
Secular, Islamophobic, Dividing, Conspiratorial, Imaginary (?); we’ve been called by so many names, stopped counting and started crying. Both our supporters and those who swore to tear us down seem to have stopped at ONE thing in our manifesto: “Fuck Israel. Fuck Hamas. Fuck Fatah. Fuck UN. Fuck UNRWA. Fuck USA!”. And no matter how hard we tried to explain on our Facebook page, in vain.
What about the rest? Let’s make things clear, starting with the Palestinian movements point. We were harsh, true. We were angry, and still are. The order in which the “parties” have been cited was not intended, and we are conscious that it brought much confusion in people’s minds. However, to those reproaching us – because we denounced the corruption of our political leaders – of insulting the thousands who voted for Hamas in 2006 (among which us), of insulting the memories of the martyrs of the Resistance groups affiliated to the different Palestinian factions who shed their blood for us in many occasions, starting with Operation Cast Lead, we want to reply don’t insult the Palestinian people’s right to criticize its politicians.
Cast Lead wasn’t a war; Cast Lead was a massacre, a slaughter, anything but a war. And during that massacre, we, people of Gaza, paid from our blood too. Every single Palestinian sacrificed something, someone, it affected us all, from the youngest to the oldest, not only the Resistance. Bombs didn’t make much difference. We never intended to reject the Resistance, and we’re going to repeat it again; we will NEVER reject those who fight for us, for our Palestine, and it was NOT the case in our previous manifesto.
Yes we voted for Hamas government. We all did. We were tired of Fatah government’s corruption, wanted a change and hoped Hamas would be that change. That PRECISELY gives us the right to shout our anger at them, because they are responsible of us, responsible of our well-being, our security. Fatah in the West Bank arrests Hamas affiliates, Hamas in Gaza arrests Fatah affiliates, while everywhere in Palestine you can find family members from different factions living united. Yes we denounce our politicians – note that words; POLITICIANS – because their mutual hatred divided them even during the commemoration of the first anniversary of Cast Lead massacre, while a crowd of Palestinians from all factions stood united by martyrdom, grief, and love for Palestine.
Whether you want to admit it or not, believe it or not, corruption exists, and it’s our right as Palestinians to denounce it, because we are tired of it. Internal change has not only internal parameters. Change will come only if people outside realize that they need to take into consideration the fact that corruption does exist, and that it needs to be stopped if we want unity back. So if it takes us to shout it to the world for our political leaders to hear us and care to unite for us, we’ll do it a hundred times.
No one helps us by asking from us to keep our mouths shut about our political issues. We’re accused of encouraging division because we dare point out the weakness of our political leaders. No one knows, apart from those who are INSIDE, how life is in Palestine because of these divisions. Trying to shut us up by saying “don’t criticize, keep your divisions “secret” and discrete” is most harmful! It just confirms our politicians that they can keep on doing it the way they do it, they will be supported by people who don’t know the theory lying in political programs. In other terms, criticizing Hamas political leaders – but the other factions’ political leaders AS WELL – is a way for us to say “if you keep it this way, all you will get is division, which is what Israel seeks”. We ought to remind them of our martyrs and imprisoned, our ancients, those who gave birth and made those movements live. We ought to remind them that Cheikh Yaseen, Marwan Barghouti, and all the others deserve more than that. Who’s in the best position for such an honest shout out, if not their own children?
The question has been raised about our anonymity. We can understand that. What we don’t understand is that instead of listening to our call for patience and time, we’ve seen ourselves caught in a witch-hunt, as ridiculous as fetching for the slightest element to make us fall. Example?
“The founding base of this group [Sharek Youth Forum] was funded by the U.S.’s National Endowment for Democracy (which have done much to overturn democracy in many countries) is suspect. Allen Weinstein (one of the founders of NED) said “a lot of what we [NED] do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA”. Does that sound good anyone?”
Seriously?! Because we mentioned that the closure of the forum – which was one of the only centers for youths remaining in Gaza, one of the only places where young people could meet, learn foreign languages, use the internet, and enjoy things they don’t have at home to escape from the deadly routine in Gaza – was the straw that broke the camel’s back for youths who had nowhere else to go, people assumed that our “base” was that center and that we were funded by the CIA? Other people claim that it’s most suspicious that our manifesto created that much buzz, made its way to Western journals. Where is the “innocent until proven guilty” principle? We seem to be the first victims of our success.
We do exist, and if we don’t want to reveal our identity for the moment – for safety reasons – it’s our right. However, more proofs of our existence are to come in the next days, one brought by contributors of the Electronic Intifada:
Asa Winstanley : both Max Ajl and Jarid Malsin (non-mainstream western journalists and bloggers based in Gaza, both of whom I personally trust) reckon they are for real:
— Jared Malsin (@jmalsin) January 3, 2011
— Max Ajl (@maxajl) January 3, 2011
What is our leitmotiv? Freedom. And for that, we know that we need the Palestinians and their leaders to unite against the Zionist Occupier. And that’s precisely why we call for action. Now. Not in 6 months, not in a year, not wait until another massacre strikes us. Now. We call on the Palestinians to unite and organize in an efficient movement of non violent protests, boycott. We call for divestment and sanctions against “Israel”. We want our land back, we want our freedom of movement back, we want to be able to go abroad to have a chance, like other people of our age, to get education. We want to be able to exchange freely with the world, to have a future and be motivated to work for it. Enough fear, enough terror, enough misery, enough broken dreams, enough airstrikes, enough blockade, enough mourning, enough violation of every single human right we are supposed to have.
We want three things. We want to be free. We want to be able to live a normal life. We want peace. Is that too much to ask? We are a peace movement consist[ing] of young people in Gaza and supporters elsewhere [who] will not rest until the truth about Gaza and Palestine is known by everybody in this whole world and in such a degree that no more silent consent or loud indifference will be accepted. And if we fail, other groups will take our place, until our voice can’t be ignored anymore.
By Abu Yazan, GYBO
It has been almost two years now since we wrote our manifesto. We called it a manifesto, but in reality, I’m not sure what it was.
Was it a manifesto, or was it a cry for help? Perhaps, an accusation, or even perhaps a demand to the world and to ourselves; a demand for change from the outside and from within.
It was before the uprisings began around us, and they have been roaring the last two years in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Bahrain. But we had felt like shouting in the dark, and while this raging had brought light into the darkness of the dictatorships around us, the night around us has not thinned even a bit. No, if anything, it has only become darker.
We had come out from under the rubble in 2009, when Israel had embarked on what they liked to call a “war” – which in actuality had been a massacre – leaving 1,385 people dead, among them 318 children. They left Gaza in ruins.
We had built up Gaza again with our bare hands, even though cement was blockaded; we had buried our loved ones and tried to cover the holes in our hearts which they left. A year later, we regained the strength to shout out our unbearable situation to the world, and to unite for a fight against the hell we were – and are – living in.
We too organised large demonstrations, even though they were overshadowed by the revolutions taking place in the surrounding countries. Our demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip began on March 15, 2011, bringing out a large part of the population onto the streets. We wanted to achieve the unity of our parties and leaders – Hamas and Fatah – who in the quest to have seize power and wealth have betrayed our land of Palestine and the dreams and demands of our youth.
For this we demonstrated, for this we put in weeks of work to bring the people of Gaza to the streets, for this we were knocked down by thugs on the streets, for this we have been arrested and abused.
And for this goal, we achieved what first had seemed promising: Discussions, negotiations and unity efforts by our leaders. And still, all of that ended up in empty promises.
Manifesto? That sounds too fierce, like a struggle that might produce victory. But we are tired, two years later. Tired of the empty promises surrounding us. There is a peace process, but one that is an insult to the word “peace”, and that makes one wonder for whom such a farce is still seriously maintained.
Since 2006, the ongoing siege punishes us daily – we could mention all the UN conventions it violates, as if that wasn’t mentioned enough already. Collective punishment for all of us, for having elected the wrong party, for having held one Israeli soldier who is now free, while thousands of our prisoners languish in Israeli jails. Collective punishments for being Palestinians, for being born in Gaza.
And that siege means that our hospitals regularly declare a state of emergency because they don’t have enough medicine or medical equipment. This siege means that we are literally sitting in the dark most of the time – without connection to the internet and thus without any connection to the outside world – because there is no electricity.
It also means that the discourse in the media is about whether there is enough food coming in, whether the siege has lifted a bit and if now there are enough sorts of Israeli chips packets in our supermarkets. Like we are animals in a zoo and the question is whether we are fed enough. We are, I can tell you. We don’t need your aid packages, we don’t need your chips, nor your bread.
We had well-functioning factories, which were bombed away. We had rich land that could produce not only enough food for us, but enough to export it to the whole world. If that land wasn’t raped daily by Israeli bulldozers, and if we weren’t forbidden to enter by military declarations. There is still an ongoing siege, keeping us needy like beggars – and we get bread instead of rights.
There are talks about unity and re-elections, consisting of words which are so empty that it is not even worth listening to them.
And then there are the new Arab governments. The new Egypt, which wants to open the Rafah border crossing in order to no longer be complicit in imprisoning us in our 5 by 20 km hell. But even with so many visits by Hamas to Cairo, it’s still just words. When will this happen? When will there be open borders instead of just assurances? When will our children no longer be born into a world where there is no freedom, no adequate medical care, no work, no future, nothing but violence and falling bombs?
We are still young enough to fight for our own future, not only for that of our children, and yet old enough to be tired. Tired of the daily struggle for survival, which distracts us from our dreams. Tired of our own government, which meets our hopes with violence.
When I tell my own story since the publication of the manifesto two years ago, it’s a story marked by violence and persecution, by arrests, abuse and flight. And resistance. Always new resistance.
When I tell the stories of other members of Gaza Youth Breaks Out, they are not much different. But I will stick with mine. With my many arrests from Hamas.
I can’t even count how often I have been arrested, and arrests in Gaza mean torture, abuse and inhumane conditions in their prisons. They mean not knowing what I’m actually accused of or when I’ll get out, leaving family and friends outside in agony, not being able to reach me, not even being able to send me a lawyer.
I got incredible support though – from inside Gaza and from outside – because my name is known. However, there are others imprisoned whose names are not known, and from whom I’m not even able to hear from.
I was invited to other countries – an opportunity not many in Gaza have – and told people about our open air prison, about our barely-existing life there. I met an interested audience and encountered renewed promises of support, and when I came back I was greeted with arrest and interrogation.
There are too many who have an interest in the status quo, and too few who are interested in Gazan youth.
Protestors in Egypt numbered in the millions, yet here, we have a frightened population oppressed by numerous powers simultaneously, shunned by a hypocritical West that demands democracy on the one hand, but turning a blind eye to the oppression and occupation of Palestine on the other.
Due to this stifling environment, we see our future now in foreign countries, where we can live and work, where governments recognise our own pain and our own danger, even though they remain silent when it comes to the big picture.
Ultimately, I did what I never wanted to do and left Gaza, but not because of the arrests and abuse. I could have stood those. I could, that is, if there had been united support, if we and others would have made the manifesto into a united manifesto for a united fight for a free Palestine, for building a future together for our generation.
Story of resistance
I still regularly keep in touch with people in Gaza. The talk is usually about the lack of electricity, bombs in the night, graduates with no job opportunities, the tight grip of the Hamas government, and walls that are nearly impossible to scale. Yes, mainly they talk about leaving. Leaving Gaza, leaving this prison and dumpster of the world. Many of my friends left like I did, and many more want to.
We wrote this manifesto because we wanted to live. Not because we wanted to be tortured, arrested and sacrificed. No, we are young enough to demand a future for ourselves, and we don’t see a future for us in Gaza right now.
My friends and I were forced to leave by a Gaza that has been made unbearable by violence and arrests through Hamas. A future in Gaza has been robbed from us by a siege that leaves us no jobs or opportunities. Nevertheless, even though we might be leagues apart and spread throughout the world, we will never cease to see a future for Gaza. Palestine, Gaza, that is our land, that is where we belong.
There’s an olive tree in my garden, and I have always dreamed of seeing my children playing under it. Wherever I might be now, one day my children will be playing under this olive tree, in a free Palestine, without fear for their lives, and that is what I will keep fighting for.
Yes, we are weary. But still, my story – and the stories of all the other amazing youth of Gaza – is and always will be a story of resistance, of resilience. Of always coming back to the land we belong to. We carry the hope of a free Gaza, a free Palestine and a future there for us in our hearts, and in our hands, in our daily work.
We struggle every day against our obstacles and for our dreams, and you can see that in all the amazing creativity coming out of Gaza, in our art, poems, writing, videos and songs, you can hear it and meet us in the talks we give all over the world.
Yes, we wrote a manifesto, and maybe that was just the bright and loud outcry of the beginning of a journey, whose path is hard and tiring, thorny and also often very quiet and dark. But it is always there.
So two years later, we say: We will be free. We will live. We will have peace. And we are always out there, fighting our daily struggle, full of the resistance we inherited from a long struggle for Palestine. We live and write and say and sing silent or load manifestos every day. Just listen to us.
Gaza’s youth lash out at the institutions maintaining the seeming status quo on the hopelessness in Gaza.
By Mark LeVine, Al Jazeera
January 12, 2011
Gazans are struggling to rebuild after the Israeli siege of January 2009, but the region’s youth are starting to reach out to the world in order to end the violence [EPA]
That’s the question a group of frustrated young Gazans asked the world as 2010 drew to a close. In a bold declaration titled the “Gazan youth’s manifesto for change” released on Facebook and quickly circulated globally via the Internet, the young Palestinians bluntly attacked not just Israel but Hamas and the entire structure of authority inside Gaza and Palestine/Israel more broadly.
“F*** Hamas. F*** Israel. F*** Fatah. F*** UN. F*** UNWRA. F*** USA!” the manifesto begins, with the verb spelled out fully. “We, the youth in Gaza, are so fed up with Israel, Hamas, the occupation, the violations of human rights and the indifference of the international community! We want to scream and break this wall of silence, injustice and indifference,” it goes on to say.
One of the ways colonial powers succeed in maintaining their control over a subject population is to get the colonised people to behave towards each other with similar kinds of violence and oppression as deployed by the coloniser against the native population. This tactic of dehumanisation is one of the most effective ways of maintaining power by dividing the population against each other and has long been deployed by Israel to weaken Palestinian society; nowhere more so than Gaza, where it has been used precisely to damper, if not silence, the injustice and indifference of the occupation.
In the 1990s it was the newly empowered security forces of the Palestinian Authority which all too easily adopted the tactics of violence and oppression against fellow Palestinians. Visiting with mental health officials in the Strip I learned first hand from recently released prisoners who had been tortured by newly empowered security men, often in the very same jails that Israel had only recently before tortured many of their torturers.
Hamas as a movement was similarly born in violence, initially against Palestinians more than against Israelis. And now that it has become the de facto state in Gaza, it has deployed its violence against fellow Palestinians with little more scruples than the PA.
Multiple walls, multiple occupations
Such violence corrodes the social and national solidarity without which large scale, coordinated resistance against occupation is much harder to sustain. It creates, as the authors of the Gazan youth manifesto describe it repeatedly in their text, a “nightmare inside a nightmare,” one with “no room for hope, no space for freedom.”
This nightmare within a nightmare reflects a double or even triple occupation that keeps those most desperate for freedom imprisoned behind an almost impregnable series of walls. Gazan and Palestinian youth more broadly not only have to fight against the Israeli occupation, they have to fight against their own internal power structures, whose divisive and often bloody competition, corruption, and lack of respect for divergent voices within Palestinian society further weakens the community.
Add to this the complicity of the international community at almost every level in the never ending occupation and it becomes clear how before one can tear down the very real walls imprisoning Gazans and so many West Bank citizens, Palestinians first have to traverse the psychological, political, and diplomatic walls that anchor the physical walls.
The social networking site Facebook might be worth $50 billion today, but that means little to its millions of Middle Eastern users, the vast majority of whom will most likely never have the opportunity or money to buy its stock. For young people across the Arab and larger Muslim worlds, Facebook and social networking technologies more broadly have given them the ability to connect with each other outside the scrutiny and control of conservative, patriarchal social and political systems. Even more important, these technologies have given them the ability to organise politically, which is why governments from Tunisia to Iran (and farther east, to China) expend so much energy to control and often restrict access to them.
But even in the digital age, virtual organising and community can only go so far to threaten those in power. And that’s why Hamas didn’t merely try to block access to Facebook. Rather, and what prompted the group behind the Gaza youth manifesto to take up their pens, was that Hamas officials attacked a youth centre, the Sharek Youth Forum, where young people regularly gathered creatively to vent frustration at the occupation.
As a space outside of Hamas’s ideological and political control, Sharek constituted a challenge to its authority and its strategies of resistance, to what the Gazan youth describe as the “bearded guys walking around with their guns abusing their power, beating up or incarcerating young people demonstrating for what they believe in…”
Of course, Hamas’s activities are in no way unique. Throughout the Oslo period the Arafat-led PA, with the cooperation (and no doubt at the urging of) Israeli and US intelligence agencies, worked to frustrate and weaken Palestinian civil society, which was so crucial to the success of the first intifada and which constituted a foundation for grass roots resistance against the negative impact of the Oslo process for most Palestinians.
And the violence and oppression within occupied Palestinian society have also corrupted its occupier, Israel, which is increasingly tearing apart what remains of its democratic institutions and ideology – as most recently shown by the attempt by a Knesset committee to investigate peace and human rights groups as essentially enemy organisations.
Indeed, this corrosion claimed its most important victim already a decade and a half ago, when Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was killed, by a man whose violent world view and smug justifications for assassinating him seem to have been copied almost whole cloth by the assassin of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer just last week. The shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, shot multiple times at point black range, reflects the global reach of this disease and its infection off most every type of political culture today.
In fact, what the manifesto’s authors describe as the “cancer” infecting their society is spreading across the world, the dark side of all the interconnectedness and “networking” promised by globalisation. Whether in Muslim countries like Egypt, Iraq and Pakistan, where Christian communities and moderate Muslim groups are under increasing attack, to Europe and the United States, where Islamophobia, prejudice and attacks against Muslims more broadly are increasing at alarming rates, the basic phenomenon is the same.
Across the developing world, from Africa to Southeast Asia, societies have turned on themselves with devastating results, leaving untold millions dead and even more maimed, and the very bases of cohesive national identities irreparably torn.
Enough is enough!
One of the great insights of the authors of the Gaza youth manifesto is that replying to hatred and violence in kin only spreads rather than cures the cancers of occupation and oppression. As they put it: “We do not want to hate, we do not want to feel all of this feelings, we do not want to be victims anymore. Enough pain, enough tears, enough suffering…. terror, torture, excuses, bombings… disturbed politics, fanatic politicians, religious bullshit, enough incarceration! WE SAY STOP!”
“Enough!” has become a rallying cry of grass roots freedom and justice movements from the Zapatistas in Mexico to the Kefaya movement in Egypt. What the brave members of the movement get is that the only way long term to defeat occupation writ large is to “start by destroying the occupation that surrounds ourselves, [to] break free from this mental incarceration and regain our dignity and self respect… We will build dreams where we meet walls.”
In sociological terms, what the authors of the manifesto and the tens of thousands of young activist across the Muslim world are doing is attempting to transform “resistance” identities that are grounded largely in violence and exclusion into more open and positive”project” identities that offer an alternative rather than mirror to the oppression – whether foreign occupation or domestic repression – that surrounds them.
Such an identity has the potential to reach out across the boundaries of class, culture, nation or religion and create new solidarities between old enemies, or at least adversaries. But such a movement is as fragile as it is crucial to the future, not just of Palestine or even of the Muslim world, but peace and justice on a global scale.
Channelling a revolution
“There is a revolution growing inside of us, an immense dissatisfaction and frustration that will destroy us unless we find a way of canalising this energy into something that can challenge the status quo and give us some kind of hope.”
This dilemma is faced by the counterparts of the young Gazans behind this manifesto globally, from Cairo to Lahore, Los Angeles to Abidjan, Tunis to Algiers. And it’s why the manifesto closes with a plea for support from everyone who reads it. As much of the world begins a new year, is it too much to ask for those of us who’ve been blessed with peace and prosperity to take the time to reach out not just to the youth of Gaza, but to the courageous activists for peace and justice around the world who are risking so much to achieve freedom and dignity for their own peoples, and in doing so, collectively for us all?
Mark Levine is a professional musician and professor of Middle Eastern history at the University of California, Irvine. He is author of half a dozen books, including Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Religion and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam (forthcoming, Random House/Verso, companion CD to be released by EMI Records).