Sunday, January 09, 2011

"Reflections on the Gaza Youth Manifesto" -- Max Ajl

An older friend told me he thinks the manifesto will blow over. Maybe, but maybe not. To me, the manifesto is important because of what it conveys: frus­tra­tion, and a wish for change. No one writes such a dangerous manifesto just as catharsis, and the way it has moved through the English-reading Pales­tin­ian uni­ver­sity community cannot be read as just an upper-class fad, espe­cially since that community cuts across class and religious lines. I know kids from the camps who have enthused about the document, and religious people from poverty-struck families who have done the same. Frus­tra­tion with the political horizon is not restricted to the rich here, desperate to live debauched lives like their peers in the West. One student writes, “Our feelings of despair, irri­ta­tion and resent­ment are the same” as those who drafted the manifesto, admon­ish­ing them for not making it better. And it will be re-written. The authors have already released a clar­i­fy­ing statement. They are not dumb, and know which sparkles caught the eye of their tor­men­tors to the north and west, and it wasn’t the stuff about “fuck Israel.” Meanwhile, it has inspired debate—where’s the political vision? Where’s the call for tactical sol­i­dar­ity? Why no mention of BDS? Why the hint of nihilism?–and that’s good, because we never know which spark will set off fiery revolt, which enraged polemic will make people think through the steps required to get unity, something that won’t come from above–it’ll come from below. We cannot but barely directly affect the internal dynamics of mobi­liza­tion of Pales­tin­ian society. Those who care will critique, highlight, tend, support, fund, hope, struggle, and all the while, do our best to overthrow our own gov­ern­ments, the most important work we can do to support the people of Palestine, be they Hamas or Fateh or neither, keeping front and center that this is an anti-colonial struggle—the last one—and that while Gaza remains a ghetto we all live in a world of walls.

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