Tag Archives: Palestine

Palestinians Rebut Blumenthal & Other Critics of Syria’s Revolution

12 Oct
On The Allies We’re Not Proud Of: A Palestinian Response to Troubling Discourse on Syria
We, the undersigned Palestinians, write to affirm our commitment to the amplification of Syrian voices as they endure slaughter and displacement at the hands of Bashar Al-Assad’s regime. We are motivated by our deep belief that oppression, in all of its manifestations, should be the primary concern of anyone committed to our collective liberation. Our vision of liberation includes the emancipation of all oppressed peoples, regardless of whether or not their struggles fit neatly into outdated geopolitical frameworks.We are concerned by some of the discourse that has emerged from progressive circles with regards to the ongoing crisis in Syria. In particular, we are embarrassed by the ways in which some individuals known for their work on Palestine have failed to account for some crucial context in their analysis of Syria.

The Syrian revolution was in fact a natural response to 40 years of authoritarian rule. The Assad regime, with the support of its foreign financial and military backers, is attempting to preserve its power at the expense of the millions of Syrians whom the regime has exiled, imprisoned, and massacred. We believe that minimizing this context in any discussion of Syria dismisses the value of Syrian self-determination and undermines the legitimacy of their uprising.

We also believe that an important consequence of all foreign interventions, including those purportedly done on behalf of the uprising, has been the setback of the original demands of revolution. The revolution is a victim, not a product, of these interventions. It is imperative for any analysis of Syria to recognize this fundamental premise. We cannot erase the agency of Syrians struggling for liberation, no matter how many players are actively working against them.

Though we maintain that the phenomenon of foreign aid demands thorough critique, we are concerned by the ways in which foreign aid has been weaponized to cast suspicion on Syrian humanitarian efforts. Foreign aid is not unique to Syria; it is prevalent in Palestine as well. We reject the notion that just because an organization is receiving foreign aid, it must follow then that that organization is partaking in some shadowy Western-backed conspiracy. Such nonsense has the effect of both undermining humanitarian efforts while simultaneously whitewashing the very crimes against humanity that necessitated the aid in the first place.

Furthermore, we object to the casual adoption of “war on terror” language. Enemies of liberation have historically used this rhetoric to target humanitarians, organizers, and community members. From Muhammad Salah to the Midwest 23 to the Holy Land Five, our community is all too familiar with the very real consequence of employing a “war on terror” framework. Therefore, we reject a discourse that perpetuates these old tactics and peddles harmful and unwarranted suspicion against Syrians.

Along these lines, it is our position that any discussion of Syria that neglects the central role of Bashar Al-Assad and his regime in the destruction of Syria directly contradicts the principles of solidarity by which we abide. We have reflected on our own tendency to heroize those who advocate on behalf of the Palestinian struggle, and we fear that some members of our community may have prioritized the celebrity status of these individuals over the respect and support we owe to those Syrians affected most directly by the war, as well as those living in the diaspora whose voices have been dismissed as they have watched their homeland be destroyed.

We will no longer entertain individuals who fail to acknowledge the immediate concerns of besieged Syrians in their analysis. Despite reaching out to some of these individuals, they have shown an unwillingness to reflect on the impact of their analysis. We regret that we have no choice left but to cease working with these activists whom we once respected.

We would like to encourage others who are guided by similar principles to do the same.

Abdulla AlShamataan
Abdullah M
Adam Akkad
Adnan Abd Alrahman
Ahmad Al-Sholi
Ahmad Kaki
Ahmad N
Ahmed A
Ala K
Ala’a Salem
Alex T
Ali A. Omar
Amal Ayesh
Amanda Michelle
Amani Alkowni
Ameen Q.
Amena Elmashni
Amira S
Andrew Kadi
Areej
Bashar Subeh
Bayan Abusneineh
Budour Hassan
Butheina Hamdah
Dana Itayem
Dana M
Dania Mukahhal
Dania Mukahhal
Diana J.A.
Dareen Mohamad
Dena E.
Diana Naoum
Dina A.
Dina Moumin
Dorgham Abusalim
Dr. Isam Abu Qasmieh
Eman Abdelhadi
Eyad Mohamed Alkurabi
Eyad Hamid
Farah Saeed
Faran Kharal
Faten Awwad
Fatima El-ghazali
Fouad Halbouni
Hadeel Hejja
Haitham Omar
Haleemah A
Hana Khalil
Hanin Shakrah
Hanna Alshaikh
Hani Barghouthi
Haneen Amra
Hareth Yousef
Hazem Jamjoum
Heba Nimr
Helal Jwayyed
Husam El-Qoulaq
Ibraheem Sumaira
Imran Salha
Jackie Husary
Jannine M
Jehad Abusalim
Jihad Ashkar
Jennifer Mogannam
Joey Husseini Ayoub
Jumana Al-Qawasmi
Karmel Sabri
Kefah Elabed
Khaled B
Laith H
Lama Abu Odeh
Lama Abu Odeh
Lana Barkawi
Lara Abu Ghannam
Leila Abdelrazaq
Lila Suboh
Linah Alsaafin
Lojayn Ottman
Lubna H
Lubna Morrar
Loubna Qutami
Magda Magdy
Mai Nasrallah
Mahmoud Khalil
Maisa Morrar
Majed A
Majed Abuzahriyeh
Manal Abokwidir
Manal El Haj
Maram Kamal
Mariam Saleh
Mariam Barghouti
Mekarem E.
Mariam Abu Samra
Mira Shihadeh
Mohamad Sabbah
Mohammad Al-Ashqar
Mohamed Hassan
Mohammad Abou-Ghazala
Mona N
Msallam Mohammed AbuKhalil
Nadia Ziadat
Nadine H
Nayef Al Smadi
Nidal Bitari
Nour Azzouz
Nour Salman
Nusayba Hammad
Omar Coolaq
Omar Jamal
Osama Mor
Omar Zahzah
Osama Khawaja
Rami Okasha
Rana Asad
Randa MKW
Rani Allan
Rania Salem
Ramzi Issa
Rasha A.
Rawan A.
Rawya Makboul
Reem J
Reem S
Reema A
Riad AlArian
Riya Al-Sanah
Ryah A
Sabreen Ettaher
Salim Salamah
Samar Batrawi
Samar Azzaidani
Sameeha Elwan
Samia S.
Sami J
Sami Shahin
Samya Abu-Orf
Sarah Ghouleh
Sara Zubi
Sarah Abu.
Sarah Ali
Sarah Shahin
Shady Zarka
Seham A
Shifa Alkhatib
Shahrazad Odeh
Shirien D
Sima Dajani
Sonia Farsakh
Susan Al-Suqi
Tahani H.
Taher Herzallah
Talal Alyan
Tamar Ghabin
Tarek Abou-Ghazala
Tareq R
Tasneem Abu-Hejleh
Tawfieq Mousa
Yahiya Saad
Yamila shannan
Yasmeen sh
Yasser Quzz
Yazan Amro
Zaid Muhammad
Zachariah Barghouti
Zeina Labadi

SOAS Palestine Society

 Doc is available here:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdFSTpAOCdPRU5e1iP11GDrWPu5pXrdVMzGumApRGd8lil2jQ/viewform
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Return to Blogging & from the archives; Gaza and the Mawasi

20 Apr

Have decided to return to blogging/informing despite the extremely disturbing efforts to control information whether about Egypt, Syria, Palestine, the arts.

As Bassem Youssef, heart-surgeon turned comedian said recently:  “You can’t shut people up.”

So why did I fall silent?  Actually I have been active on other forms of social media and got re-involved in music after a hiatus.

I was searching through my files and found this written for the Encyclopedia of the Arab-Israeli Conflict on an area of Gaza where people were trapped for years due to Israel’s administrative rules.  I wrote it after traveling to Gaza to observe Israel’s withdrawal, when settlers resisted.  I was with a news crew which filmed settlers attacking a Palestinian home from their roof; the crew and lead (from the Times) said they knew their editor wouldn’t accept the other part of the story … we went into Gaza to talk to various people about their expectations for the future.  Mind you, this predated Hamas’ victory in the elections in ’06.   Recently, I met a man in Arkansas who is from this part of Gaza and he mentioned working in the flower gardens – I had no opportunity to say I had visited.  On several other trips to Gaza, I paused to marvel at the beached boats, unable to fish, although Gaza should rightfully develop a seaport and touristic beach.  As part of the encyclopedia project one struggle was to insert more information on Palestinian geography, history, personalities and perspectives; every brief article counted.  And finally, the point – could Israel’s settlers be forced to withdraw from areas they occupy?  (Yes, almost 4,000 settlers left Gaza, not at all willingly, but they did).     

Al-Muwasi` (meaning gardens) know as Mawasi, is a strip of coastal land on the Gaza Strip, one by fourteen kilometers, divided administratively into the Khan Yunis and Rafah Mawasi. Classified under the Oslo Agreement I of 1994 as a “yellow” area, Israel controlled security, and Palestinians held civil jurisdiction. 760 families (5300 people) inhabit the Khan Yunis Mawasi. 220 families are Palestinian refugees who fled here in 1948. The residents of Malhala are Bedouin refugees, primarily from the Beersheva (Bir Saba`) area.   430 families (3000 persons) live in the Rafah Mawasi including refugees from the Ashdod area who live in the “Swedish village,” part of the Rafah refugee camp.   [Note these figures were current at that time )

At least 15 Israeli settlements were established on Mawasi including Katif, Ganei Tal, Kfar Yam, Neve Dekalim, Gan Or, Bedolah, Rafih Yam and Morag.   In 2005, Mawasi was the site of Israeli demonstrations against withdrawal from Gaza. Demonstrators seized empty buildings and threw stones at Palestinian homes.

The Mawasi Palestinians were not allowed after 1967 to travel to Khan Yunis or Rafah where some have families and property.   Later, they were increasingly restricted due to their proximity to the Israeli Gush Katif settlement to their east. The Gush Katif central administration was based at Neve Dekalim and the area was subjected to special security arrangements.   The Palestinians used to fish, but were forbidden to do so; instead they relied on agriculture. However, since 2000 this output suffered from land-razing and Israeli-imposed transport restrictions. Electricity was available only at night for 5 to 6 hours through a temporary generator. The school lacks electricity, water and sufficient teachers, and its clinic has electricity only 2 hours a day. The Khan Yunis Mawasi has only one private well and no sewage system. The Israeli settlers’ standard of living was considerably higher than the Palestinians as they enjoyed state subsidies and adequate services, well-maintained roads, better residences, and easier access to schools, clinics and supermarkets. Until 2005, there were approximately 3900 Israeli settlers in the area.

Palestinian truck-drivers used to wait for hours to drive through checkpoints.   Only men are allowed to walk through checkpoints on foot and restrictions on gas for cooking and heating were imposed there. Carrying metal through was not allowed, including coins. Of additional concern to Palestinians were incidents of Israeli dumping of toxic waste in the area and the presence of 4 sewage treatment plants serving Israeli settlements, but which pollute Palestinian areas.

Since 2005, a Red Cross project has restored some of the Shanshola boats used to fish sardines.

Sources:

 

B’tselem. Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.

“Al-Mawasi, Gaza Strip: Impossible Life in an Isolated Enclave.” March 2003, pp. 1-21.

 

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. Suffering in Isolation: A Report on Life Under Occupation in the Mawasi Areas in the Gaza Strip, August 2003. pp. 1-125.

 

Personal interviews with al-Muwasi’ residents, July 2005.

 

Sherifa Zuhur, Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College