Nakba, herdenking aan de Catastrofe van 1948

Op 15 mei 1948 beëindigde de Britten het mandaat over Palestina en riep het Joods Agentschap de staat Israel uit. Tegelijkertijd trokken Arabische legers het gebied binnen om de Arabische bevolking te beschermen.

Dit alles gebeurde nadat de Britse regering na jaren van onlusten tussen de Arabische en de Joodse bevolking van Palestina, de toekomst van het land voorlegde aan de Verenigde Naties. Deze organisatie besloot in al haar wijsheid op 27 november 1947 met resolutie 181 de opdeling in een Arabische staat en een Joodse staat. De Arabische bevolking heeft deze resolutie afgewezen. Nadat de resolutie bekend werd, brak er weer een burgeroorlog in Palestina uit.

In de vroege ochtend van 9 april 1948 vielen commando’s van de Irgun (onder leiding van Menachem Begin) en de Stern Gang het dorp Deir Yassin aan. Het dorp met 750 Palestijnse ingezetenen, lag buiten het gebied dat volgens de VN bij de Joodse staat zou horen en had een vreedzame reputatie. Echter Deir Yassin lag op een belangrijke plaats tussen Tel Aviv en Jeruzalem. Tijdens de aanval werden meer dan 100 mannen, vrouwen en kinderen systematisch afgeslacht. Drieënvijftig kinderen die plotseling wees waren geworden, werden aan hun lot over gelaten en gedumpt bij de muur van de oude stad.

In de tijd van 2 april tot 14 mei 1948 voerden de Joodse strijdkrachten plan Dalet uit om het in het Verdelingsplan aan de Joodse staat toegewezen gebied alsmede de Joodse concentraties aan mensen daarbuiten veilig te stellen, met daarbij het verdrijven van zoveel mogelijk (vijandige) Arabieren. Ongeveer 250.000 Arabieren vertrokken vrijwillig of werden verdreven. Doordat er in de jaren 1948 – 1949 er een oorlog ontstond, zwelde de stroom aan Arabische-Palestijnse vluchtelingen tot 750.000. Meer dan 400 Arabische dorpen werden ontvolkt en afgebroken.

Zondag 15 mei 2011 was in een aantal plaatsen ter wereld de 63e herdenking van deze catastrofe, zo ook in de Palestijnse gebieden. En wat deed Israel bij een herdenking zo belangrijk als deze voor het Palestijnse volk? Het schoot met scherp op demonstranten die te dicht bij “haar belangrijke verdedigingswerk” kwamen. Het resultaat was tientallen doden en honderden gewonden.

Bij de grens met Libanon werden minstens 4 Palestijnse demonstranten dood geschoten en vielen honderden gewonden. In de Golan hoogvlakten zijn minimaal 10 personen vermoord en een honderdtal gewonden gevallen. Shujaiyeh sprak over 1 dode en tientallen gewonden. Niet alle doden zijn bevestigd, maar we gaan er van uit dat er meerdere doden zijn gevallen en vele honderden gewonden.

Nakba is een dag van herdenking voor de Palestijnen over het feit dat hun voorouders en / of ouders zijn verdreven of uit eigen beweging, om het vege lijf te redden, zijn weggegaan van het land waar ze thuishoren, nl. Palestina.

Ondertussen – na 1948 – heeft Israel geen moment ongemoeid gelaten om haar grondgebied uit te breiden, zelfs tot de laatste dagen voor de herdenking van deze Nakba in 2011.

Te beginnen met de bouw van de  650 km lange muur die diep in het gebied van de West Bank is gebouwd en loopt zigzag door 10 van de 11 districten van de West Bank. Op sommige plaatsen is de muur 16 km diep het gebied van de West Bank in gebouwd, en zeker niet op de Groene Lijn van 1967. De muur is niet bedoeld als bescherming maar meer als pure landpikkerij van de Palestijnse bevolking.

Een ander onderwerp: Jeruzalem. In deze stad heeft Israel 35% meer land en eigendommen sinds 1967 in ‘bezit’ genomen, m.a.w. Palestijns gebieden onteigend. En dit blijft maar doorgaan. Er schijnt zelfs een plan te zijn om 386 huizen te bouwen in Oost Jeruzalem voor Joodse kolonisten.

Op 5 mei jl. gingen Israëlische troepen te keer in Hebron, vernielden huizen en tenten, en ontwortelden honderden bomen in Khirbet Um Nir.

Een hoge militair van Israel heeft ruiterlijk toegegeven dat ze Gaza gebruiken om wapens te testen. Wapens testen moet dan gebeuren op de Palestijnse bevolking. In 2008 en 2009 zijn zeker 1400 Palestijnen op deze manier vermoord door het Israëlisch testen van wapens.

Zo kan dit artikel wel doorgaan, maar laat het duidelijk zijn, de Nederlandse media en de Nederlandse politici zijn niet bezig met de bevolking van Palestina, sterker nog, “ we moeten werken aan de versteviging van de band met Israel”. Dat schijnt het toverwoord van dit kabinet te zijn en wordt overal uitgedragen. Dat er nog een bevolking in Palestina bestaat, wordt voor het gemak maar vergeten. Tenslotte heeft Nederland nooit Palestina geaccepteerd en met deze regering zal dat ook niet snel gebeuren. Er wordt niet gesproken over het feit dat Israel mensen systematisch vermoord, mannen, vrouwen, kinderen, dat ze een gehele bevolking in een open gevangenis houdt, dat Gaza van de buitenwereld is afgesloten en dat ze tegenstanders die spreken over Palestina laat vermoorden, de arm van de Mossad is lang.

In het westen worden de doden op 4 mei herdacht, m.n. van de Tweede Wereldoorlog, maar we hebben geen goed woord over als in Palestina op 15 mei de doden en verdrevenen worden herdacht van de Catastrofe van 1948.

In de Tweede Wereldoorlog hebben we in het westen gevochten tegen de bezetters van onze landen, maar als de Palestijnen vechten tegen de bezetter van hun land, zijn het terroristen. Wie heeft er boter op het hoofd?

Misschien is het goed voor het westen om eens lering te trekken uit de eigen geschiedenis, zodat we begrip kunnen hebben voor mensen die nu nog in dezelfde situatie zitten.

Israël opent vuur in Gazastrook en beschiet Syriërs bij grens

Het Israëlische leger heeft in verschillende plaatsen geschoten op de tientallen mensen die vandaag proberen de grens over te steken. Het geweld op de verjaardag van de stichting van de staat Israël – voor Palestijnen de “Dag van de Grote Ramp” heeft al aan meerdere mensen het leven gekost.

Op meerdere plaatsen op de Westelijke Jordaanoever en in de Gazastrook worden vandaag marsen gehouden ter herdenking van de Nakba, de vlucht en verdrijving van de Palestijnen in 1948 toen Israël werd gesticht. Israël heeft de Westelijke Jordaanoever voor een dag afgesloten en de troepen van het leger staan op scherp.

‘Doden door beschietingen in Gaza’

Israël heeft tientallen Palestijnse betogers die de grens tussen de Gazastrook en Israël naderden bestookt met twee raketten en geweervuur. Hierbij zijn zeker 45 Palestijnen gewond geraakt. Vier mensen kwamen om het leven, aldus een Israëlische televisiezender.

In Tel Aviv reed een een vrachtwagen bestuurd door een Arabier in op auto’s en voetgangers. Eén man kwam daarbij om het leven en zeventien mensen raakten gewond.

Een Palestijnse jongen houdt een symbolische sleutel vast in een mars ter nagedachtenis van de Nakba in Ramallah. Foto Reuters / Mohamad Torokma

‘Aanval Israël op Syriërs kost vier mensen het leven’

Het Israëlische leger heeft vandaag ook een aanval uitgevoerd op een groep Syriërs die de grens bij de Golanhoogvlakte wilde oversteken. Volgens een televisiezender werden hierbij zeker vier mensen gedood. Het Israëlische leger zegt dat er alleen waarschuwingsschoten zijn gelost.

Tien tot twintig mensen raakten gewond en zijn naar het ziekenhuis gebracht, zeggen Israëlische reddingsdiensten. Israël bezet de Golanhoogvlakte sinds 1967. Hoewel Syrië het gebied terug wil, is het al decennia lang rustig langs de grens.
Grotere kaart weergeven

‘Doden bij beschietingen Israël bij grens met Libanon’

Libanese veiligheidsfunctionarissen zeggen dat er vier mensen in Libanon zijn gedood toen Israëlische soldaten het vuur openden op demonstranten die de grens met Israël naderden. Ook zouden er gewonden zijn gevallen.

(www.nrc.nl / 15.05.2011)

Rafah convoys turned back, activists protest at Israeli embassy

CAIRO: Convoys carrying activists and aid heading to the Rafah border were turned back at Ismailia on Sunday as hundreds protested in front of the Israeli embassy in Cairo to support the “Third Palestinian Intifada.”

Activists said numerous checkpoints were set up on the road towards Rafah and no one was allowed to pass unless their national ID identified North Sinai as their residence.

A number of participants were arrested by the military, activists told Daily News Egypt.

“All convoys were blocked on Friday and Saturday at Al-Salam Bridge and Ahmed Hamdy Tunnel and were forced to turn back by the army. However, we decided to organize a protest in front of the Israeli embassy instead,” said Mohamed Al-Hadary, an activist who was part of the convoy that moved from Tahrir Square on Friday.

A number of activists managed to reach Rafah with the help of local residents and organized a peaceful protest in front of the crossing to mark the establishment of the state of Israel 63 years ago, in what is commonly referred to in Arabic as the “Nakba” or “catastrophe.”

“We were stopped at Al-Arish and only the residents of the city were allowed through; however we managed to get in,” said Khaled Salah, an activist and coordinator of the Egyptian International Coalition to Break the Siege on Gaza.

“Security measures here are tightened, the army has deployed cordons across the city and refused requests to organize a demonstration; however, there were no clashes between activists and the army,” he told DNE from Rafah.

The Ministry of Interior issued a statement Sunday urging Egyptians not to respond to calls for participating in planned marches to the borders with Gaza and to consider “the critical and important circumstances the country is undergoing.”

Activists held a sit-in Saturday at Al-Salam Bridge in Ismailia demanding entry into Sinai before ending their sit-in amid threats that thugs were planning to attack them, according to press reports.

“The army called transportation companies on Friday and forced them to cancel the contracts with us to provide buses but we managed to hire private buses but were blocked at Ismailia,” said Mohamed Awad, member of the Coordinating Committee for the March to Gaza (CCMG).

“It was the army who forced us to end the sit-in and blocked aid convoys at Al-Salam Bridge,” he added.

Awad said that he saw three activists being arrested at the gates of Ismailia.

According to activists, a convoy set up by Arab Doctors Union carrying medical aid was allowed into Gaza.

Convoys headed on Friday from Tahrir Square to Rafah but were blocked on Al-Salam Bridge, while others who moved on Saturday weren’t allowed into the city of Ismailia.

The army dispersed a protest demanding the expulsion of the ambassador and breaking ties with Israel in front of the Israeli embassy Friday night.

The convoys are organized by internet activists as well as political parties and youth movements including April 6, the Labor Party, the Democratic Front Party, Al-Karama Party and the Muslim Brotherhood.

They were supposed to be joined by many others in the Arab world as part of a collective call for a “Third Intifada” against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land marking Nakba Day.

(thedailynewsegypt.com / 15.05.2011)

Israël opent vuur bij grens Syrië

Het Israëlische leger heeft zondag het vuur geopend toen een mensenmenigte de Syrische grens bij de Golanhoogvlakte probeerde over te steken. Een Israëlische televisiezender zegt dat zeker vier mensen zijn gedood.

Volgens het Israëlische leger zouden er alleen waarschuwingsschoten zijn gelost om de menigte uiteen te drijven. Tien tot twintig mensen raakten gewond en zijn naar het ziekenhuis gebracht, melden Israëlische reddingsdiensten.

De televisiezender toonde beelden van duizenden mensen die bij zich de grens verzamelden en dingen naar het hek gooiden. Tientallen mensen knipte gaten in het hek en stormden naar de Israëlische kant. Volgens Israëlische media gaat het om Palestijnen die in vluchtelingenkampen in Syrië wonen.

Palestijnen herdenken zondag de ’nakba’, de verdrijving van Palestijnen in 1948 tijdens de Israëlische onafhankelijkheidsoorlog. Honderdduizenden Palestijnen sloegen toen op de vlucht of werden verdreven. Ook in Oost-Jeruzalem, op de Westelijke Jordaanoever en in de Gazastrook is het onrustig. In de Gazastrook kwam een persoon om het leven en raakten veertig mensen gewond.

Israël bezet de Golanhoogvlakte sinds 1967. Hoewel Syrië het gebied terug wil, was het decennia lang rustig langs de grens.

(www.nieuwsblad.be / 15.05.2011)

Israeli forces open fire at Palestinian protesters

A wounded Palestinian is carried at the Erez border crossing between Gaza and Israel - 15 May 2011
Palestinian medical officials said dozens were wounded in Gaza

Israeli forces have fired on groups of protesters at border crossing points with the Palestinian territories, Syria and Lebanon.

Unconfirmed reports say several people have died, and dozens have been injured.

At least 45 Palestinians were injured as Israeli forces fired at a group near the Erez crossing in Gaza, medics said.

Palestinians are marking the Nakba or Catastrophe, their term for the founding of the Israeli state in 1948.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were forced out of their homes in fighting after its creation.

Impetus

The BBC’s Jon Donnison, in the West Bank town of Ramallah, said this year’s Nakba protests have been given impetus by the uprisings in countries across the Middle East and North Africa.

In Ramallah there have been clashes at a border crossing into East Jerusalem.

Palestinian protesters have been throwing stones at Israeli security forces, who have been firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

The Israeli military said it only fired warning shots on the occupied Golan Heights as protesters tried to breach a border fence. But unconfirmed reports said four people had been killed and at least 10 people injured.

The incident took place near the village of Majdal Shams.

Israeli seized the strategic territory from Syria in 1967.

Lebanese military officials said at least 10 people were injured in shooting at his country’s border with Israel.

Further south, at the Erez border crossing between Israel and Gaza, Israeli troops opened fire with tanks and machine guns, injuring at least 15 people, Palestinian medical officials said.

(www.bbc.co.uk / 15.04.2011)

Palestinians wounded in ‘Nakba’ clashes

Dozens wounded in West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights as Palestinians commemorate “Nakba Day”.

More than 40 Palestinians have been injured in clashes on the 63rd ‘Nakba Day’. [AFP]

Dozens of people have been injured in the Gaza Strip as thousands of Palestinians and activists marched to mark “Nakba Day”, amid tight Israeli security.

A group of Palestinians, including children, were shot by the Israeli army after crossing a Hamas checkpoint and entering what Israel calls a “buffer zone” – an empty area between checkpoints where Israeli soldiers generally shoot trespassers, Al Jazeera correspondent Nicole Johnston reported from Gaza City.

Johnston said tank shelling and artillery fire were also heard from the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip.

Reports said at least 45 Palestinians were wounded in northern Gaza as Israeli troops opened fire on a march of at least 1,000 people heading towards the Erez crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

In south Tel Aviv, one Israeli man was killed and 17 were injured when a 22-year-old Arab Israeli driver drove his truck into a number of vehicles on one of the city’s main roads.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the driver, from an Arab village called Kfar Qasim in the West Bank, was arrested at the scene and is being questioned.

“Based on the destruction and the damage at the scene, we have reason to believe that it was carried out deliberately,” Rosenfeld said. He did not believe the motive was directly linked to the anniversary of the Nakba.

The Nakba, or “catastrophe”, is how Palestinians refer to the 1948 founding of the state of Israel.

West Bank clashes

One of the biggest demonstrations was held near Qalandiya refugee camp and checkpoint, the main secured entry point into the West Bank from Israel, where about 100 protesters marched, Al Jazeera correspondent Nisreen El Shmayleh reported from Ramallah.

Some injuries were reported from tear gas canisters fired at protesters there, El Shmayleh said.

Small clashes were reported throughout various neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem and cities in the West Bank, between stone-throwing Palestinians and Israeli security forces.

Israeli police said 20 arrests were made in the East Jerusalem area of Issawiyah for throwing stones and petrol bombs at Israeli border police officers.

About 70 arrests have been made in East Jerusalem throughout the Nakba protests that began on Friday, two days ahead of the May 15 anniversary, police spokesman Rosenfeld said.

Tensions had risen a day earlier after a 17-year-old Palestinian boy died of a gunshot wound suffered amid clashes on Friday in Silwan, another East Jerusalem neighbourhood.

Police said the source of the gunfire was unclear and that police were investigating, while local sources told Al Jazeera that  Ayyash was shot in random firing of live ammunition by guards of Jewish settlers living in nearby Beit Yonatan.

Lebanon and Syria

About 20,000 people are expected to gather by the end of Sunday at Ras Maroun, a Lebanese border town.

Matthew Cassel, a journalist en route to Lebanon’s southern border with Israel, tweeted that dozens of buses were departing Nahr al-Bared and Baddawi refugee camps in northern Lebanon.

Some activists tweeted that the Lebanese and Jordanian authorities were prohibiting protesters from nearing the borders. The information could not be independently verified.

Israeli army radio said dozens were wounded in a shooting incident on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, an area bordering with Syria.

Palestinian refugees from Syrian side of the border were shot for trying to break through the frontier fence, the radio report said.

Israeli army spokepersons’ office said an Israeli army patrol shot in the air in an effort to desist “people trying to cross into Israel and trying to damage the fence.” There was no comment on reports of the injured.

‘End to Zionist project’

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu condemned Sunday’s demonstrations.

“I regret that there are extremists among Israeli Arabs and in neighbouring countries who have turned the day on which the State of Israel was established, the day on which the Israeli democracy was established, into a day of incitement, violence and rage”, Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting.

“There is no place for this, for denying the existence of the State of Israel. No to extremism and no to violence. The opposite is true”, he said.

Earlier Sunday Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of Hamas-controlled Gaza, repeated the group’s call for the end of the state of Israel.

Addressing Muslim worshippers in Gaza City on Sunday, Haniyeh said Palestinians marked this year’s Nakba “with great hope of bringing to an end the Zionist project in Palestine”.

“To achieve our goals in the liberation of our occupied land, we should have one leadership,” Haniyeh
said, praising the recent unity deal with its rival, Fatah, the political organisation which controls the West Bank under Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’ leadership.

Meanwhile, a 63 second-long siren rang midday in commemoration of the Nakba’s 63rd anniversary.

Over 760,000 Palestinians – estimated today to number 4.7 million with their descendants – fled or were driven out of their homes in the conflict that followed Israel’s creation.

Many took refuge in neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and elsewhere. Some continue to live refugee camps.

About 160,000 Palestinians stayed behind in what is now Israeli territory and are known as Arab Israelis. They now total around 1.3 million, or some 20 percent of Israel’s population.

(english.aljazeera.net / 15.04.2011)

Twits on Nakba

Have arrived at the Israeli embassy, thousands here

Israeli troops gun down Palestinians in day of protest

The #Nakba is a msg 2 the entire world to act quickly in ending Israeli occupation which has been a burden on the region #gaza

10 killed and 100 injured in #Golan Heights

Moving dumpsters now in qalandiya as the demo continues

i see some israeli press are blaming iran for the protests!/violence !

israeli press: 36 arrested in E. Jerusalem Nakba Day protests

Lebanese army started shooting in air non stop. There was a stampede, refugees running away.

Reports of at least 12 palestinians killed , so far today

Heating up. Undercover cops everywhere in qalandiya

One Palestinian killed in Shujaiyeh, east of #Gaza, where some 70 Palestinians have been injured.

‘Nakba’ rage goes beyond Palestine to Golan and Lebanon, Israeli troops open fire

Number of martyred protesters on Syria & Lebanon borders with Israel rise to 9, according to AJA

Four killed in Lebanon-Israel border shooting, sources say (Reuters)

Israel is showing the world how it responses to unarmed protest….with violence

ALLAHU AKBAR .. MARCH FORWARD .. KEEP MARCHING

Demonstrators are regrouping. Nothing seems to be stopping them today. The demo is growin… (cont)

WORLD R U WATCHING ? Confirmed that soldiers just used live fire on unarmed #nakba demo

Soldiers arrested four minors and badly beat them in front of intl press in

Lebanese army is standing by maybe moving in to stop protest at fence

Soldiers just charged. Stampade. Firing rubber bullets and maybe live

Four pro-Palestinian protesters dead, 11 wounded after shooting at Lebanon-Israel border … (cont)

shocking statement I have never seen so many suffering from tear gas at one time

Israeli gunfire wounds 45 Palestinian protesters in Gaza Strip who approached Israeli borde… (cont)

Palestinians climbing on fence chanting there is no god but Allah

Just spoke to @justimage on the Lebanese side of the border, he says the #Israeli army is shooting across the border #nakba

The Top 10 Missed Signs of the Arab Spring

What did the events surrounding the “Freedom Flotilla,” which took place almost a year ago, have to do with the Arab Spring? This was a question that was posed to me at a panel discussion this week. At first, I thought the question was a bit odd. Given the nature of events over the past few months and the rapidly developing news coming from one Arab country to the next, the flotilla seemed like eons ago. But the question got me thinking: “What signs of this Arab Spring did we miss?” Hindsight is of course 20/20, and predicting based on any of the events below that transformational change would sweep the region would have been unlikely. Yet, thinking about some of the events and trends of recent years, there were definitely signs that we missed. So, in no particular order, here are my top 10:

1.The Flotilla – a few days before the Mavi Marmara was attacked by raiding Israeli commandos who ultimately killed 9 civilians on board and injured others, I had written a piece in ForeignPolicy.com about the importance of this Flotilla and what it meant:

To their credit, the few hundred non-violent activists-turned-sailors have found a way to maximize their power as individuals to force one of the world’s most powerful regimes into a corner. Whether the boats make it to Gaza or not, this is a tremendous victory for civil society in international affairs.

And a victory it was. People, activists from all walks of life, decided they simply wouldn’t wait around anymore for governments or states to change policies that were inhumane. They weren’t going to wait any longer for Israel or Mubarak’s Egypt to end their collective punishment of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza. So, they took to the sea and challenged a regime by sailing into an unjust blockade instead of a water cannon or rows of riot police, and they sailed straight into history. There is little doubt that the same spirit that filled the “Freedom Flotilla” was embodied in Mohamad Bouazizi and flooded Tahrir square.

2. Khaled Said – It was not so much the killing of Khaled Said that made his murder a turning point – after all, many Egyptians were tortured and killed in the custody of the Mubarak regime’s repressive security apparatus – rather, it was the reaction to Said’s death that made it different. The horrific images of his corpse after torture went viral as the Mubarak regime failed to swiftly hold those responsible accountable. I remember thinking to myself the day #khaledsaid was trending globally on Twitter (July 22nd, 2010) that there was a nucleolus of young Egyptian activists that were fed up with the regime and that we would be hearing from this generation soon – and did we ever.
3. The 2006 PLC Elections – For the first time in Palestinian history, the Islamic Resistance
Movement or HAMAS, would participate in legislative council elections. When HAMAS’ “Change and Reform” ticket won handily at the end of January in 2006, a clear message was sent that the Palestinian people sought “Isqat al Nizam” or regime change much in the same way that Egyptians and Tunisians did, except Palestinian did it through the ballot box. Now, this didn’t necessarily mean that throngs of Palestinians supported HAMAS ideology. Similarly in Tahrir, liberal reformists were protesting alongside Islamists not because they agreed on everything, but because they agreed on one very important thing: this regime had to go.So when the U.S., Israel and Egypt worked together to put an end to such change, they were doing so with the common fear of what democratic movements would mean for each of their governments. I guess we are finding that out now.
4. Wikileaks – At the end of 2010, countless classified U.S. State Department cables were leaked to the public. Among the revelations included in the cables were discussions of the absurd corruption of Zien Al-Abidine Ben Ali and his wife Leila Trabilsi. Ben Ali was the first to go. We also learned that the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen was conspiring with the U.S. over how to lie to the Yemeni people over drone strikes against suspected Al-Qaeda targets. Saleh is currently hanging on to power by a thread. We also learned about Bahrain’s contacts with the Israeli Mossad and how they view the majority of their population as proxies for Iran. Not surprisingly, the U.S. has been silent over joint Saudi and Bahraini repression of Shia dissidents in Bahrain and the ongoing destruction of Shia houses of worship.
5. The Youth Bulge – Well, this isn’t really one we missed, but no one really took the problem seriously enough (especially not Arab regimes). With disproportionate numbers of Arab youth in Arab societies, coupled with rampant unemployment and poor economic conditions, there was no shortage of angry young people to fill the streets. This certainly didn’t just start yesterday, but pressure was building over time as more and more Arab students entered the workforce as vegetable peddlers instead of participants in growing and developed economies. At the same time as many Arab youth were reluctantly accepting a dearth of jobs and low wages, they noticed the disappearance of a middle class, a widening income gap in society and corrupt government officials reaping the benefits of a system set against its people. Something had to give.
6. The rise of Erdoganism – Remember the World Economic Forum in 2009 when Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan berated the Israeli President Shimon Peres over Israel’s conduct in Gaza? If you don’t, much of the Arab world does. But what was as significant as Erdogan’s outbursts on behalf of oppressed Palestinians that day was the juxtaposition it presented. Seated on the stage along with Erdogan and Peres was Arab League General Secretary Amr Mousa. As Erdogan walked off the stage in disgust, Mousa remained seated. The contrast could not have been more apparent or important. For decades, what was left of the revolutionary republics were lead by repressive dynastic regimes that justified “emergency laws” as part the effort against Israel while really doing little to oppose Israeli behavior. But here was a democratically elected leader, not to mention from an Islamist background, who relayed the feelings of Arab publics better than the representative of the Arab league who, sitting idly by, represented the impotence and incompetence of Arab regimes that were better at using force against their own people than the Israelis.
7. The Palestine Papers – Released only days before the uprisings began in Egypt, the Palestine Papers confirmed what many people already knew: the American-led peace process was a waste of time. In instance after instance, the pro-Israel bias in American mediation was on display. This was important because it underscored broader American strategy in the region which emphasized stability and the security of Israel with little if any concern for the Palestinians or the repressed peoples living under repressive regimes. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the pillars of American strategy in the region, both vis-à-vis Israel and the “War on Terror” were among the first to fall. The Palestine Papers gave Arabs yet another reason to revolt against the regimes which willingly participated in supporting this structure.
8. Satellite Dishes EVERYWHERE – Jerusalem is a complicated place. Jewish colonies fill up every remaining bit of space between Palestinian population centers. When you drive through it is not always easy to tell when you are in an Arab or Jewish neighborhood. Rooftops, however, betray the camouflage. Arab houses have different water boilers and, of course, the stereotypical receiving dishes pointed toward that part of outerspace where Aljazeera comes from.

But it is hard to really grasp the revolutionary significance of satellite news for the Arab world from an outsider’s perspective. An anecdote will help: As I was watching events develop in the Arab world, I was paying close attention to both state TV channels in Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, etc., while also watching the satellite networks. I happened to also be working on a historical research project which involved reading about media in the different

parts of the Ottoman Empire at the turn of the last century. I came across a fascinating edict which was delivered from the Sultan of the empire to all newspapers at the time about what was allowed to be printed and what wasn’t. It is reproduced here from Mustafa Kabha’s bookon the Palestinian Press:

1. First and foremost, newspapers must inform the people of the precious health of the Honorable Sultan. Then they must discuss matters pertaining to the agricultural crops and the progress of trade and industry in the empire.

2. The use of exclamation marks and successive dots may arouse inquiries and speculations; hence they are forbidden.

3. Newspapers are forbidden from publishing any minority of majority opinion of the population concerning the corruption of government officials. They are also forbidden from noting complaints on this matter referred to the Honorable Magnificent Sultan.

4. The people have no need to be informed of assassination attempts on the kings of foreign countries or of demonstrations held by trouble-makers in those countries. The newspapers are totally forbidden from conveying such news to the people.

What is so shocking about this edict is not that it existed as such 120 years ago in the Ottoman Empire – such things are to be expected of that time and place. But rather, the fascinating thing to see was how little has changed from that point up through the recent period. It is only when you consider how long the restrictions of state dominated media have lasted, and how many governments they have transcended, that you can truly appreciate the revolutionary nature of the Arab satellite channels. One has to wonder how many Bouazizis there were throughout the Arab world for decades that “never made a sound” because there was no media permitted to report it to Arab ears.

9. The War on Gaza – For many throughout the region, the heinous Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip, which it was already strangling with a siege that Egypt was cooperating in, was a travesty beyond words. This war was the exclamation point at the end of an 8-year long sentence about Arab humiliation written by the Bush administration. It was simply shameful that the Arabs could allow this to happen. After the 2006 war on Lebanon, the war on Gaza got many people thinking about the dire situation the region was in and what horrors may come without drastic change. One thing that kept the pressure cooker’s lid intact after the war was the inauguration of President Obama. The coming of Obama defused tensions in the Arab world in part because his message resonated with some, and in part because he simply wasn’t George W. Bush. But when Obama’s policies toward the region became impossible to differentiate from Bush’s, especially on Palestine, whatever band-aid his arrival placed on the injured pride of the Arabs was torn off and the wound was still very raw.

10. The Throwing of the Shoe – Long before Egyptians in Tahrir raised their shoes as Mubarak delivered defiant speeches, long before Libyans lobbed shoes at projected images of Gaddafi speeches in Benghazi, there was Muntather Al-Zaidi, the journalist who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush in Iraq, expressing the emotions of millions of Arabs like him. It was no surprise that after the December 14, 2008 incident, people were calling for the shoes to be placed in a museum and thousands of orders were placed by shoe sellers for the type of shoes Zaidi was wearing. Zaidi became a hero and a symbol of a generation which had enough and simply couldn’t take it anymore. For what it’s worth, Munather Al-Zaidi’s name roughly translates to “waiting for the rest,” a fitting title for the man who threw his shoe two years before an entire region followed in his footsteps.

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