A long manifesto, initially published by a facebook group, GYBO, is getting a lot of coverage this weekend. Here's the manifesto's preface:
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 F16’s 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 like lice between two nails living a nightmare inside a nightmare, no room for hope, no space for freedom. 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, homemade 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.
The document goes on to criticize almost every party to the Gaza conflict and to the Israeli-Palestinian "peace process," and is clearly anti-clerical:
We do not want to hate, we do not want to feel all of this feelings, we do not want to be victims anymore. 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!
According to some of the reporting on this new group, its beginnings go to young people associated with Sharek Youth Forum, which after a long period of harassment by Hamas, was finally shut down in late November 2010. Their manifesto mentions the shutdown:
There is a revolution growing inside of us, an immense dissatisfaction and frustration that will destroy us unless we find a way of canalizing this energy into something that can challenge the status quo and give us some kind of hope. The final drop that made our hearts tremble with frustration and hopelessness happened 30rd November, when Hamas’ officers came to Sharek Youth Forum, a leading youth organization (www.sharek.ps) with their guns, lies and aggressiveness, throwing everybody outside, incarcerating some and prohibiting Sharek from working. A few days later, demonstrators in front of Sharek were beaten and some incarcerated. We are really living a nightmare inside a nightmare.
How closely the eight young people who now identify themselves with the manifesto were to the leadership of Sharek Youth Forum is somewhat unclear. In an article published January 2nd, The Observer notes:
When the cyber-activists wrote the manifesto three weeks ago, they gave themselves a year to gather enough support before thinking about further steps. But their text has travelled around the world at an unexpected speed and has harvested thousands of supporters, many of them human rights activists, who say they are ready to help.
Now, the authors are dealing with the impact of a document that could be a turning point in the life of the Strip. "We did not expect this to be so big," one of them admits. Eight people – three women and five men – wrote the text. They are normal students, from the more secular elements of Gazan society. All declare themselves to be non-political and disgusted with the tensions and rivalries that divide Palestinians between Hamas, the rulers of Gaza, and Fatah, the more secular party which governs the Palestinian Authority, based in the West Bank. "Politics is bollocks, it is screwing our lives up," said one member of the group. "Politicians only care about money and about their supporters. The Israelis are the only ones benefiting from the division."
Sharek Youth Forum's harassment by Hamas began early in 2010, and was a constant set of attacks, hassles and intimidations, as chronicled in a timeline they published.
Sharek appeared to be well-financed, and their Sharek Gaza e-Magazine is slick. A list of the organization's funders makes me wary. For instance, a key supporter has been the National Endowment for Democracy. Former Senator Norm Coleman is among the NED's newest board members. In 2000, the American organization's founder, stated some of the organization's goals:
NED regularly provides funding to opposition candidates in elections in countries other than the USA. According to Allen Weinstein, one of the founders of NED, "A lot of what we [NED] do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA"
It will soon be five years since the Palestinian election which brought Hamas to power. Although elections had been scheduled for 2010, they didn't happen:
The PA government had justified its decision by arguing that it wanted to safeguard “national unity” – a reference to efforts to achieve reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.
I see this new youth manifesto/facebook group/"grassroots" political movement as possibly genuine, though probably not. As in the beginnings of Hamas, with valuable help from the Israeli intelligence services, so we may have here in GYBO an externally-initiated counter to the paradigm of a Palestinian polity dominated by the corrupt Fatah and the theo-fascist Hamas.
Whatever the true origins of this seemingly spontaneous manifesto, with its in-your-face challenges to political, religious and military outrages, it is the young people involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that we must look toward for any hope there.