Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, February 2011
Rallies Throughout Palestine in Solidarity with the Egyptian and Tunisian Popular Uprisings
By Mazin Qumsiyeh
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, February 8, 2011
I blog regularly about what is happening here especially what is not seen
in mainstream media. I want to take this message to expose some things
I have alluded to only marginally before and then issue a call to
Palestinains (including the "Palestinian authority" or PA). First a
description of what happened that prompts this emotional email.
Despite illegal orders from the PA, Friday's demonstrations in Bil'in, Wad Rahhal, and elsewhere emphasized Egyptian-Palestinian unity in the face of oppression, and Saturday demos were held in Gaza, Jerusalem, Beit Ommar, Ramallah, and Bethlehem. Over 1000 people gathered in Ramallah. Dozens of plain-cloth PA personnel tried to disrupt the demonstration and arrested people. Here are video clips
Some individuals in Ramallah were harassed even before the demonstration (thinking that if you scare those you think are leaders, you can end the events). Similar attempts were made in Bethlehem. I and at least four other activists in Bethlehem received word from relatives, friends, and even directly from security agents saying "watch out". I recorded details on all of these things for potential future legal action. At the actual event in the Manger Square (50 participants), plain-cloth security agents tried many tactics to discredit, disrupt, and intimidate. Some of them represented themselves as demonstrators and others just blatantly tried to interrupt speeches. One person by the name of "Saddam" (who refused to give me his last name) tried to disrupt every speaker. When Yosef Sharqawi decided to speak, Saddam made a point of appearing to whisper something in his ear and then said Yousef used to work for the PA. Everyone already knew this but, while I disagree with Yousef on some political issues, he is entitled to speak his opinion. This reminded everyone of Israeli intelligence officers who use first names of activists in demonstrations and wink at them to tell everyone: hey he is with us, don't trust him. In another occasion he and another person stated loudly that those who are demonstrating “should ask to be paid like some others are paid at the demonstration”! The PA agencies do know very well that none of the key organizers is paid by anyone and many actually spend from their own pockets. Later, the uniformed police prevented us from marching. Video of all of this is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNOEG5KnCb0 so you be the judge of what transpired.
Now I want to take a few lines to fellow Palestinians:
I just finished a book that chronicles 130 years of inspiring acts of resistance, self-sacrifice and decency. But yes, it also chronicles stories of weakness, spineless, and even collaborative episodes in our history. From this I learned that this period is most like 1928. After the end of the 1921 uprising, a class of Palestinian elites rose, some of them co-opted from the resistance movement. With political leadership from prominent families, they were empowered under British occupation but with "autonomy" and even their own police forces. Their demands in 1928 were no longer the end of British occupation or rescinding the Balfour Declaration, but focused on more ‘moderate’ requests, including changing British rules to employ Palestinians and objections to the British granting concessions to Zionist companies. The British, these Palestinian officials, and most of the Palestinian public thought things could not change.
Who remembers the names of those who tried to work with Britain of the 1920s day. Many of them were abandoned by their benefactors. Their descendants are individuals who shy away from any mention of their grandparents or what they did. But who among us have not heard of Musa Kadhem Al-Husseini, the dean of resistance in the 1920s who , at age 83 was beaten on 27 October 1933. We do not know if the policeman that beat him was British or Arab working for the British. Musa died shortly after likely due to complications of the injuries on an old man. He was one of tens of thousands of martyrs for the Palestinian struggle for freedom. His detractors and those who tried to stab him in the back died in shame and are long forgotten. I urge you, no matter what your political affiliation, to think of what kind of memory you will leave for your children and grandchildren?
But most important: do not underestimate the people. During the
years of betrayal 1922-1928, who would have predicted the uprising of 1929
(or for that matter 1936)? Who would have predicted in 1986 the
intifada of October 1987? Who three weeks ago would have predicted the
events in Egypt? I beg you to take these lessons of history.
Please listen to the people and not through paid uneducated individuals that
you send to spy on your own people.
- for use of "intelligence" agents to intimidate activists and their families (mine included) to impose their dubious agendas of silencing all opposition
- for use of plain-cloth security agents to disrupt peaceful gatherings
(as happened today in Ramallah and Bethlehem)
Press release: Rallies Throughout Occupied Palestine
in Solidarity with Egypt and Tunisia
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