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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Brave Gaza protesters meekly followed Hamas orders

Omri at Mere Rhetoric noticed a interesting part of Amira Hass' article about the Gaza Freedom March a few weeks ago:
The march was not what the organizers had dreamed of during the nine months of preparation. ...Some people said that Hamas government representatives had found the NGOs did not have a clear, organized plan for the guests and therefore had taken the initiative.

Another said, "From the outset, Hamas set conditions: No more than 5,000 marchers, no approaching the wall and the fence, how to make speeches, how long the speeches should be, who will make speeches. In short, Hamas hijacked the initiative from us and we gave in."

Hamas, or its Popular Committee, brought 200 or 300 marchers. The march turned into nothing more than a ritual, an opportunity for Hamas cabinet ministers to get decent media coverage in the company of Western demonstrators. Especially photogenic were four Americans from the anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox Jewish group Neturei Karta, who joined the trip only at Al Arish. There were no Palestinian women among the marchers - a slap to the many feminist organizers and participants, both women and men.

After the march, the guests voiced protests to some of the official Palestinian organizers. "We came to demonstrate against the siege, and we found that we ourselves were under siege," they said....

Some, especially the Arabic-speakers, complained that "a shadow in the shape of a security man" continued to accompany them.

In meetings without the security men, several activists got the impression that non-Hamas residents live in fear, and are afraid to speak or identify themselves by name.

Elsewhere in the article the Hass describes the protesters in heroic terms: "direct democracy in action," "without secrets, without orders from on high, without hierarchies," "popular, non-hierarchical action and its ability to bring about change." Yet when they made it to the promised land of Gaza, all of these slogans and stated goals went out the window, and they allowed themselves to be used in a glorified Hamas photo-op, not uttering a peep of public protest even when some of them belatedly realized that Hamas is the enemy of freedom in Gaza.

Somehow, I don't think that any of them will be protesting Hamas.

It seems that the "freedom" that the GFMers are interested in is not exactly congruent with the usual meaning of the term.