Monday, 3 January 2011

The Gazan Youth Manifesto

Frustration and disaffection among young people in Gaza, where over half the population is under 18, is boiling over. Caught between a brutal apartheid regime which keeps them boxed off, and a repressive Islamist government, their voices too often went unheard. Until now.

Under a cloak of absolute secrecy, youths have been meeting and organising to form a group known on Facebook as Gaza Youth Breaks Out (GYBO). The Guardian describes them as "young Palestinian cyber-activists" and says that although they "do not represent anybody except themselves," their message "has resonated strongly, not only abroad but also inside Gaza."

That message is summed up by the incredible Gaza Youth Manifesto for Change;
Fuck Hamas. Fuck Israel. Fuck Fatah. Fuck UN. Fuck UNWRA. Fuck USA! 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 like the Israeli F16s 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 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, home-made 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 canalising this energy into something that can challenge the status quo and give us some kind of hope.

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. 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. Here in Gaza we are scared of being incarcerated, interrogated, hit, tortured, bombed, killed. We cannot move as we want, say what we want, do what we want.

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 to be free. We want to be able to live a normal life. We want peace. Is that too much to ask?
The message is a powerful one. It is not written by a team of academics detatched from the conflict, but by the young people caught up in the middle of it. It is not written in the dry language of bureaucracy, but with all of the angers and frustrations of oppressed youth.

Within those angers and frustrations is a call for revolution. The youth of Gaza have taken the brunt of Israel's brutality, and demand an end to it. But they also recognise the repressive authoritarianism of Hamas and have no desire to simply let one form of brutalisation take precedent over another. They want freedom, and they know that neither side of this conflict offers any such thing.

Socialism or Your Money Back hits the nail on the head;
Socialists are always on the side of the oppressed against the oppressors and the massive use of overwhelming force by the state of Israel clearly exposes it as the oppressor. But just because we sympathise with the victims of Israeli oppression does not mean that we favour the solutions popular amongst them. Our opposition to Zionism does not mean that we support Hamas or Fatah . Nor like some, we don’t single out Jewish nationalism for special condemnation. We condemn all nationalisms equally. The “Palestinian nation” is just as much a myth as the “Jewish nation”, or any other nation. A Palestinian state would be a capitalist state. Many fall prey to the romantic/moralistic approach of the Left – the oppression of Palestinian workers is made qualitatively worse by the denial of national rights, that is, the denial to the Palestinian capitalists of a free hand in exploiting their workers and conning them into believing that they share a common interest in defending a patch of land. The Palestinian working class would still be oppressed as workers, and the land would belong to a new set of owners. They would still be subject to poverty, to the tyranny of their rulers and to the chaos of capitalist existence. In fact, they could only lose out, as the sacrifice in life, freedom and material goods necessary to win such a war were made.
Thus, I will second their affirmation that "all peoples should seek their emancipation, not as members of nations or religions or ethnic groups, but as human beings, as members of the human race."

The Gazan Youth Manifesto is just such a demand. Not only does it not oppose Israel on nationalistic or religious grounds, but it expressly rejects those positions. It is a call for genuine freedom for ordinary people, and those behind it deserve the solidarity and support they need to grow.