Thursday, September 1, 2011

17th Day: Hashtag Revolutions and the Patriotism of Rejecting Your Own "Statehood"

How patriotic would it be for a nation to overthrow their government within weeks, or even during the early years of statehood? Probably not patriotic at all. It would be recorded as an imminent failure to them and a mark that will forever stain their history of struggle and self-determination. I believe this could be a major drive behind the PA's insistence on gaining a seat in the UN as a State of Palestine after two weeks, which will suppress any opposition the PA may be facing with the wave of revolutions spreading across the Arab World. 

I remember back in high-school how I eagerly read about the Battle for Algiers and about the Algerian revolution. I remember how I watched the Arabic movie "Djamila Bouhired" with enthusiasm. I also remember how disappointing the Algerian history unraveled later on as Algeria was becoming a closed society and how terrorism and civil strife took the lives of tens of thousands if not more Algerians who were once viewed as a beacon of hope to all revolutionary nations. Yet, Algeria could not afford a second revolution. Typically it takes ages to forget about a revolution and start a new one. It comes once in a "modern" history. You either win it or you don't. Unless a second phase in your history comes that completely and fundamentally reshapes the country and that is when people forget about their first revolution and join a second with a new generation that rejects their parents decisions/ failures.

What I call the Hashtag revolutions (courtesy of Twitter's hashtags) are revolutions against all the mistakes committed by previous generations. The Hashtags have so far been widely used during post-modern revolutions, and were successful during a number of them: #Dec18 for Tunisia, #Jan25 for Egypt #Feb17 for Libya...etc. 

On the other end, Palestinians attempted so many of them, none were successful and none seem to be serving their purpose no matter how rightful their motivation sounds and how much justice it does serve. The reason? None of these Palestinian revolutions demand true justice which should be the rejection of the PA as an entity which does not serve the Palestinian national interests. 

There is a quite revolution going on, however, which has been extremely powerful and only growing in gaining international support. It is the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, or hashtag #BDS.

One of the many BDS campaigns is the Stop Funding Apartheid. Most of these campaigns are run from abroad successfully. The latest campaign shows a typical Palestinian woman who probably appeals to a Westernized eye. A woman who does not look European, yet modern and looks familiar enough to gain sympathy in a society that judges people based on their resemblance to it. Her face, if it only had a smile, would be a perfect face for a University campaign billboard on any US highway. So far, the campaign has gained numerous success. "I am not allowed on Israel's segregated roads". The sentence is down to the point and is strikingly clear about it: you are not allowed because Israel is an Apartheid. So what do I do to help this woman, and any one who is not allowed on Israel's roads? I'd have to stop funding Apartheid. This cannot get any simpler than that. Using the term segregation does not go as far away from the American mind-set as would the word Apartheid which brings back memories of the most recent Apartheid: South Africa. Segregation, however, brings back the American Blacks history of segregation and struggle for equality. Both words were used and the history of both nations is now presented to the readers telling them that "your history is repeating itself, don't allow it to happen again to us."

It is only a campaign such as this one that will be successful. This is a revolution. BDS hashtag is Palestine's post modern revolution which needs the entire World's support for it to be successful. It is also the only successful Palestinian movement that retains both our dignity, our rights and dismisses all claims for a two-state solution without being too straight-forward about it. Soon, the move should become more obvious about demanding equality and that is when their campaign should shift to Arabic and not only English. 

The only Arabic language attempt against a two state solution I've seen in Ramallah was quickly absorbed and was viciously attacked by everyone. It was in 2010 when a huge billboard that said: "Two state solution =  Failure. One State, Two people = Only Hope" was attacked with red paint and markers. A comment that was left on the billboard said "How dare you forget about the martyrs blood?". I could not help but assume it was a PA supporter who wrote the sentence blindly without giving a though to what the martyrs actually would have wanted and how much the PA served their memory. Still, I believe it was too early to present the new approach to Palestinians without previously preparing them to accept such a notice and building a strong ground to support it even amongst PA enthusiasts. 

The wording was horrible as well. The perfect time for a billboard like this woud have been September 13th, 2013, on the 20th anniversary of the failed Oslo Accords or more accurately termed Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements. The billboard should have only been presented after years of mobilization and exposing lies and corruption by the PA. Exposing how much Oslo has failed us as Palestinians. And on September 13th, a billboard in Arabic that reads "On September 13th, 1993, the PLO signed Oslo, 20 years later how better off are you?" or a more creative approach such as a familiar-looking Palestinian 20-year old who declares: "I was born when Oslo was signed. 20 years later the West Bank shrunk by 60 percent, my family became poorer, and my rights have diminished" etc.

The new generation has to be dramatically far more self-aware and far more conscious about their national politics. They should also look far more different than their own government: In 2011 Egypt, those demonstrating out on the street were waves upon waves of impovrished and "sarcastic" individuals who looked nothing like their ultra-rich and "stern-faced" government. In 1979, the Iranian revolution changed an open and Westernized society into a conservative one that simply wanted to end the old ways and corruption into a revolution they believed was their only hope; in 2009, the youth attempted a revolution that was crushed and accused of working for a foreign agenda. It'll take probably another 30 years before Young Iranians who were not shot or killed and have no memory of their parents failed revolution in 2009, to attempt to change the system.

In Palestine, a UN bid will serve the following purposes: It will put a seal on a long Palestinian nationalist struggle for independence, thus ending the unofficial struggle with Israel. It will be almost like a CPR to elongate a seemingly short-life for the current PA. The PA will change from being the Palestinian Authority, to the Government of Palestine. A different name that serves the same purposes of protecting Israel and providing means for the Palestinian population to grow within their Israeli-imposed borders while still negotiating for an ever diminishing possibility to acquire the entire 1967 territories.

On the morning of September 20th, me and hundreds of thousands of  Palestinians will still not be allowed to drive on segregated roads that were made for Israelis by Israelis. We will still be going through checkpoints and we will still be at the mercy of teenaged soldiers who can stop us for any reason whatsoever as we drive through their check points. They will ask us for Hawiya-National ID. We will be too afraid to say "Sorry, this is our land and you have no right to ask us for our National ID", and if one was brave enough to do, he'll be left out as most of those other passengers inside a run-down bus between any two places in the West Bank will have a wedding to attend, a husband who waits at home, a sick mother, or food to be prepared. He will be persecuted and found guilty at Israeli Army courts. He will serve time in Israeli prison, and his name will merely make it to the data-base of the PA's Ministry of Detainees' Affairs, but the MOD will have no power to force Israel's occupation forces from freeing anyone. When was the last time the PA was capable of anything that was in disagreement with Israel after all? 

So, how patriotic would it be for a Palestinian to quickly reject a Palestinian state? Probably not patriotic at all. He'll have to wait for another 30 years before it becomes less shameful to overcome your pride and have little memory of the blood that was strained in a strife for independence. The PA recognizes this, and 30 years does sound like a lot of money to be generated from the donor community, despite the fact that the Palestinian citizens of the state will live under the mercy of their factual occupier. 

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