Now The Wave Is Coming

January 31, 2011 § 2 Comments

Two reflections on the revolution, via the Guardian, from Palestinian writers. Raja Shehadeh, author of Palestinian Walks, writes

Now we watch the people in Tunisia and Egypt demonstrate against their police states while, closer to home, we are witnessing the creation, slowly but surely, of a police state of our own. The irony is that while others may be dismantling theirs, ours is being created even before we have a fully fledged state.

In his excellent piece poet Tamim Barghouti puts today’s Arab revolts in their historical context, before noting the consequences for Israel:

Now the wave is coming. I will venture to say that the Egyptian regime has already fallen: it might take some time, but the fear, the perception that the regime is invincible has gone once and for all. All this is followed quite closely in Palestine; any future intifada will not be directed only against the occupation, but also against any Palestinian entity that co-operates with the occupation. Tunisia sent out the message that client regimes fall – that if we can drive the empires out, we will surely be able to drive out their vassals.

As I write, demonstrations rage in the streets of Cairo: everyone knows that if they stay at home, they will be compromising the safety of those in the streets, as well as their own freedom. Cairo knows and Cairo moves. Ramallah worries that an empowered Cairo means an empowered Gaza, and Tel Aviv and Washington know that instead of just Iran, they will now have to worry about Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Palestine all at once.

Both pieces in full after the break. « Read the rest of this entry »

The Green Still Resists

June 17, 2009 § Leave a comment

In one of the most contentious sections of his thoroughly contentious Cairo speech, Obama declared:

Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It’s a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.

It’s difficult to know where to start with this. Perhaps by registering just how insulting it is for the representative of the imperial killing machine – responsible directly and indirectly for millions of deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Somalia – to lecture the dispossessed and massacred Palestinians on their occasional attempts to strike back. We can be sure that the sleeping children Obama is concerned with here are the Israeli children who live on the stolen land of Palestine, not the unsleeping, traumatised children of Gaza, several hundred of whom were burnt and dismembered six months ago. Then it’s worth remarking how the erudition and intelligence shown in Obama’s pre-presidential book ‘Dreams from my Father’ have been immediately crushed on his assumption of the presidency. How otherwise could his historical vision be so partial and simplistic? There was certainly a key non-violent aspect to the struggle for civil rights in the United States, but pretending that violence played no role in the process makes it necessary to ignore the American Civil War (half a million dead), Nat Turner, Malcolm X, the Black Panthers and rioting Chicago. Violence, or the threat of violence, was important in South Africa and India too, and certainly in Obama’s ancestral Kenya, and was the dominant anti-imperial strategy in Vietnam and Algeria.

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Facts in the Air

June 4, 2009 § Leave a comment

The web, writes Palfest participant Jeremy Harding, is one of the few places where Palestinians, losing ground by the day to the realities of occupation and settlement, can make their aspirations plain. Jeremy’s first diary piece on Palestine is here.

A good way to grasp what’s happening to East Jerusalem and the Occupied Territories is from the air. Google Earth can do that for you, but there’s a history of contention: in 2006, users created tags for Palestinian villages that were destroyed during the war of 1948-49; the following year Fatah’s al-Aqsa Brigades were said to be checking potential Israeli military targets against Google Earth pictures; last year there was a controversy over the Israeli coastal town of Kiryat Yam, when a user called Thameen Darby posted a note claiming it was formerly a Palestinian locality ‘evacuated and destroyed after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war’. Kiryat Yam, its residents protested as they reached for the nearest lawyer, was built in the 1930s.

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