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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Where's the Palestinian Arab Spring?

Khaled Abu Toameh writes in Hudson-NY:
Last March, when it seemed as if the popular uprisings in a number of Arab countries had arrived in the Palestinian territories, thousands of Palestinians took to the streets as part of a Facebook-orchestrated campaign to demand an end to Palestinian "divisions."

Inspired by the Egyptian demonstrators in Tahrir Square, the Palestinian protesters staged sit-in strikes in the center of Ramallah and Gaza City.

Although the Palestinian protesters were careful not to attack the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, they quickly found themselves facing policemen and thugs belonging to the two rival parties.

Palestinians are also reluctant to come out in large numbers against the two governments because they still do not see a better alternative to the Palestinian Authority and Hamas: Over the past few years, both governments have had a common interest in suppressing the emergence of a strong and charismatic third party.

Since then, Palestinians have stopped trying to copy the tactics used by anti-government demonstrators in the Arab world.

With both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, the violence achieved its goal and brought about a swift end to what could have evolved into a Palestinian spring.
A case in point:

A young political activist in the Gaza Strip has been arrested, members of his group feared Monday after he had been missing for two days.

Abu Yazan, leader of the Gaza Youth Breaks Out movement, was returning from a trip to France, where he was invited to hold talks about the situation in Gaza, GYBO said.

He was arrested after being summoned twice for interrogation, the group said in a statement.

"Abu Yazan is a leading voice in the movement that is representing a growing number of Gazan youth," the statement said. GYBO was active in the March 15 pro-unity movement.

"He also was denied visits by his family and a lawyer," the group said.

"We call on the authorities to abide by the law."

Another member of the group, who identified himself only as Abu Ghassan, told AFP that Abu Yazan had been missing since he went to try to retrieve his laptop and mobile phone from the headquarters of Gaza internal security services.

"There was a threat that he would be arrested and he had to turn over his laptop and mobile phone to the internal security before he went to France," Abu Ghassan said.

"He went to get his laptop and mobile phone back two days ago and since then he hasn't been seen or heard from.
Gaza Youth Breaks Out has a webpage and Facebook page. They are pretty much angry at everyone, as their original manifesto started with:
Fuck Israel. Fuck Hamas. Fuck Fatah. Fuck UN. Fuck UNWRA. Fuck USA!
In their Manifesto 2.0, they expand on their anger at Hamas:
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.
So it is predictable that Hamas would arrest Abu Yazan, and the nascent anti-government protest movements in both Gaza and the West Bank will always be viciously attacked by the "democratically elected" governments.

Hamas last night also arrested a journalist, Thaer Abu Warda, and confiscated his computer.

We see here, again, what a Palestinian Arab state would look like. It would look a lot like Mubarak's Egypt, at best. And no one seems to have a problem with this.