The Routine of Repression

by Penny Johnson
published in MER150

By the end of summer, almost all the journalists were gone. They had descended en masse around June 5, the twentieth anniversary of the Israeli military occupation, crowding the streets of the West Bank and Gaza in quest of photogenic unrest. The preceding winter and spring had been tumultuous. Seven young Palestinians were dead and scores injured, with many more detained in clashes with the Israeli army. Now, in June, the towns seemed calm. Only a merchants’ strike and scattered demonstrations marked two decades of occupation. In Ramallah, television crews clustered around shuttered shops to photograph the locks.

The Cost of Living Crisis in the West Bank

by Nu'man Kanafani
published in MER265

In September 2012, declining living standards ignited a firestorm of street protests and strikes in the West Bank. The immediate spark was a sharp increase in fuel prices, alongside an increase in the value-added tax (VAT) rate. It seems that the protesters had a message for Palestinian Authority (PA) policymakers: It is no longer acceptable to blame all of Palestine’s economic woes on Israeli occupation. Demonstrators were demanding that the PA manage the economy better, the occupation notwithstanding.

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Four More Years

by Mouin Rabbani , Chris Toensing | published December 5, 2012

The 2012 US presidential election elicited less interest among Palestinians than any such contest in living memory. While most Israelis, and their government in particular, expressed a clear preference for a Republican victory, Palestinians seemed resigned to continuity in US foreign policy irrespective of which party won the White House. The main reason was that President Barack Obama, self-proclaimed apostle of change and widely hailed as such in the region when he assumed office four years ago, has yet to demonstrate a meaningful inconsistency with his predecessor George W. Bush when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Events since the election have only confirmed this policy direction and thus the validity of Palestinians’ indifference.

"Something Was in the Air All of 1987"

by Beshara Doumani
published in MER152

Mahmoud and Naji, both in their early twenties, are full-time participants in the uprising. Both were politically active before the uprising and, in addition to joining demonstrations, they play leading roles in local neighborhood committees. Both are college students. Mahmoud majors in civil engineering and Naji in economics. They spoke with Beshara Doumani in Ramallah on March 1, 1988.

When did you realize that this was indeed an uprising?

Mosque and Church in the Uprising

by Dale Bishop
published in MER152

It was only one of the hundreds of incidents that cumulatively have come to be known as “the uprising.” Here there were no beatings or shootings, no bloodshed, and, as far as I know, no one was arrested. In fact, compared with the dramatic events we have been witnessing nightly on the evening news, this was such a tame one-act drama that even the participants may have by now forgotten that it took place. But on a Sunday morning in early January, when the uprising was about a month old, an incident took place just outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City that imparted a certain clarity to me about the nature and significance of the events of the past months.

Two Poems About Palestine

by Sharif Elmusa
published in MER152

In the Refugee Camp

The huts were of mud and hay,
their thin roofs feared the rain,
and walls slouched like humbled men.
The streets were laid out in a grid,
as in New York,
but without the dignity of names
or asphalt. Dust reigned.
Women grew pale
chickens and children
feeding them fables from the lost land.
And a madman sawed the minaret
where a melodious voice
cried for help on behalf of the believers.

Of course he gazed at the sky
on clear nights,
at stars drizzling
soft grains of light,
at the moon's deliberate face,
at the good angel wrapped in purple air.
     He had no ladder

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A Bullet, A Lie

(to Sami and his family)

by Joost Hiltermann
published in MER157

ahmad had those
wildly intense
eyes that
would stare through you
as he spoke and
would light up
every now and then
as he listened and
would drive me crazy
what
does he want from me?

 

i remember ahmad
when
he returned from prison
to ya‘bad
and his grandmother
ululated in jubilation
danced in happiness
served coffee to share
her happiness

 

and it was ahmad
who took me around the village
when i came on
mundane visit
to see all houses
demolished or sealed
in town
recording a history
of occupation

 

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Palestinian Communists and the Intifada

by Alain Gresh
published in MER157

Maher Al-Sharif, Al-Shuyu‘iyun wa Qadaya al-Nidal al-Watani al-Rahin [The Communists and Issues in the Current National Struggle] (Damascus: Center for Socialist Research and Study in the Arab World, 1988).

The role of the Palestinian Communist Party (PCP) is one of the most important and least understood aspects of the intifada. When a member of the PCP Political Bureau was elected to a seat on the PLO Executive Committee at the 18th Palestine National Council (PNC) in April 1987, many interpreted it as a sign of Moscow’s role in the process of reuniting the Palestinian factions. But that is an insufficient explanation for the double “cultural revolution” this opening represents.

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"When the Rest Is Quiet, There Is Revolution in Dahaysha"

by Melissa Baumann
published in MER152

We enter Dahaysha through one of several gates, past rusted oil drums piled high in a stockade and a chain-link barbed-wire fence that residents keep tearing down.

The alleyways are quiet; people must be inside. M. takes us to the home of his friend A., 27, a business student at Bethlehem University. Eight prison stints have postponed his graduation indefinitely; he has been under camp arrest for two years.

“I leave prison, my brother enters,” A. smiles cynically. Two of his three brothers are now in jail. One sister was imprisoned for five days once for allegedly throwing Molotov cocktails; his father, who works in a chicken factory in Bayt Shams, has gone to prison three times.

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Abu Jamal's Family

by Joost Hiltermann
published in MER152

In MER 146,1 wrote about Abu Jamal and his family. In mid-December, two weeks into the uprising, soldiers came to the house of Abu Jamal in the Old City of Ramallah. They arrested two of his teenage sons, Nasir and ‘Umar, and one of their cousins from across the street, and took them to the new prison camp in al-Dhahriyya which was opened specifically to house those arrested during the uprising. There they spent 12 days, along with hundreds of other boys, average age 16, packed together in tiny rooms, deprived of washing facilities and forced to use a trash can as a toilet, with few blankets and with little food.

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