Guardian

A rare moment of sanity from Gaza, via the Guardian


A guest post by AKUS

Perhaps Harriet (“the ChickenLady”) Sherwood is simply on holiday, and we will have to suffer through more of her vapid articles when she returns. In the meantime, Ana Carbajosa seems to have taken over Sherwood’s job at the Guardian, which is to demonize Israel every day in every way. However, her latest article, Gazan youth issue manifesto to vent their anger with all sides in the conflict was something different. It offered a rare glimpse of an alternative view from Gaza.

Carbajosa apparently attended a secret meeting of Gazan youths who have finally realized, as so many Israelis have for so long, that they are caught up in meat grinder that they wish would just stop turning. The group has issued a “manifesto” to that effect.

Members of this secret group have concluded that they no longer care who is to blame for what, they do not care about revisiting old grievances – they just want the fighting, on all sides, to stop. “Eight people – three women and five men – wrote the text. They are normal students, from the more secular elements of Gazan society” writes Carbajosa. The “manifesto” ends thus:

“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! We want to be free. We want to be able to live a normal life. We want peace. Is that too much to ask?”

Before the intifadas the streets of Tel Aviv once filled with Israelis saying the same. Remember “Shalom Achshav” – “Peace Now”?

Readers of the Guardian will have often seen naïve commentary to the effect that various ex-pat UK citizens writing articles that condemn Israel for just about anything at all are “brave” to do so. This, of course, is complete nonsense. One can write just about anything in Israel’s free press with impunity. However, it takes real life-threatening bravery for this group of Gazan youths to meet anonymously and issue a manifesto which, while containing angry screams at Israel, as one might expect, directs detailed and  even angrier outbursts at Hamas. Even Carbajosa, after taking a few obligatory cracks at Israel (this is the Guardian, after all), writes:

[In Gaza] Going out, meeting friends in cafés – let alone clubs or discotheques – or attending cultural events has become an increasingly complicated task as Hamas cracks down on western “decadence”.

In Gaza there are no theatres and few concerts aside from the Islamic musical performances organised by the Hamas authorities. In the places where young men and women are allowed to meet, considered an “oasis” by the less conservative youth, the police are quick to interrogate mixed couples suspected of not being married or engaged.

The “last straw” for the writers of the Gaza manifesto came a month ago, when Hamas closed Sharek, an internationally financed organisation offering training and summer activities for thousands of adolescents and young people. Sharek had also became a hang-out place for the more liberal-minded in Gaza….

Her comment reflects the anguish of the authors of the manifesto. Read the whole thing by all means to see what they write about Israel, but if I extract the condemnations of Hamas it contains (and the admission of the effectiveness of Cast Lead), brave Gazan youngsters writing the following face life-threatening reprisals from Hamas if discovered:

“We are sick of being caught in this political struggle ….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 being portrayed as terrorists, home-made fanatics with explosives in our pockets and evil in our eyes; …we are sick and tired of living a shitty life, being kept in jail by Israel, beaten up by Hamas …

“We barely survived the Operation Cast Lead, where Israel very effectively bombed the shit out of us, destroying thousands of homes and even more lives and dreams. … During the last years, Hamas has been doing all they can to control our thoughts, behaviour and aspirations. Here in Gaza we are scared of being incarcerated, interrogated, hit, tortured, bombed, killed. We cannot move as we want, say what we want, do what we want.

From small acorns mighty oaks grow. This is the first time I can recall a group of Palestinians publicly accept a share of responsibility for the conflict, set aside a recitation of grievances, impossible demands, threats, name calling, falsification of history, refusal to accept Israel’s legitimacy and the rest of the litany we see from their leaders and instead just call for it all to stop. If more are like them, or become like them, perhaps finally there will be genuine negotiations with give and take on both sides, and an agreement that ends this apparently intractable conflict.

23 replies »

  1. Carbajosa is on very thin ice indeed I think. It’s one thing challenging the GWV of Israel as the ultimate evil from outside the tent – the mods do their utmost to silence all challenge from that quarter – but this is a blatant challenge from within!

    Where will it all end, I ask you?

    (Hands up anyone who believes that she was brainwashed by Zionists??)

  2. In the ‘manfesto, I read:

    Inside the Strip, things do not get much better. Israeli shelling which follows the launching of rockets into Israel by Palestinian militants is part of their everyday life. Power cuts and ruinous sanitary conditions are among the side-effects of the embargo suffered by Gaza’s inhabitants.

    OMG! It is not ‘Guardian orthodoxy’ to imply that there is any connection between Israel’s ‘viscous and unprovoked‘ attacks and peaceful Hamas firing rockets and mortars at Israeli civilians.

    Perhaps the Guardian editor simply didn’t notice a bit of realism in the text?

    Shocking.

  3. Clearly this was just an Xmas holiday job for Ana and Harriet-of-the-chickens will now return miraculously. Shouldn’t think Ana plans to re-visit Gaza, unless she is ready to face the kidnap gangs of the Dog Mush clan, the nemesis of the BBC’s Alan Johnston. Let us remember Ana’s Guardian piece on December 19 about British hiker, Kaye Wilson, stabbed 12 times while her US tourist friend, Christine Luken, was killed near Jerusalem, allegedly by such a kidnap gang.

  4. Wafa Sultan, Walid Shoebat and now these. More and more comment from the Arab world is coming on stream saying what the Israelis have been saying for years.

    You don’t have to agree with Israeli policies to accept their rationale as reasonable. But the track racord of truth-telling speaks for itself, and Arab thinkers who come out with ideas consistent with Israeli comment are highly credible, especially since, as Akus says, they put themselves in danger by doing so.

    If the Guardian can’t stand the idea of listening to Israelis, let them listen to these people.

  5. let’s hope they are for real and it is not another ruse

    remember, we keep hearing probably mostly true stories about the youths of Iran regularly for years now

    so I second Ariadne: if they are for real, can they be helped?

  6. juliantheprostate

    If the Guardian can’t stand the idea of listening to Israelis, let them listen to these people.

    Somehow I feel that they are lulled to sleep by Berchmans lunacies on their threads. It would be too much to expect any rationality from them.

  7. The World’s Leading Liberal Voice will betray the opposition to Hamas just as surely as George Galloway betrayed the Iraqi opposition to Saddam.

    There is no way that the Guardian could admit it has been lying about Gaza all along, that Hamas are a bunch of racist Jew-hating gangsters, and that a virulent supremacist form of Islam has crept out of its cave onto the world stage.

  8. Duvidl feels the need to remember Ana’s Cif contribution in song, thus:

    Let Yourself Go (to Gaza)
    (to the tune of: “Let Yourself Go”. Hat tip: Irving Berlin)

    Come; to Gaza go Sir.
    Buy from well-stocked Gaza grocer.
    You’ll meet there Ana Carbajosa.
    She’s let herself go.

    Come; you’ll feel free-er,
    Lunching with Ismail Haniyeh.
    He doesn’t drink Israeli bier.
    He might let yourself go.

    Go to Gaza bars; Inshallah.
    Take whisky with Hassan Nasrallah.
    Hezbollah likes salt beef with challah.
    He’s let himself go.

    DS Al Coda

    Here is Irving Berlin’s original song and lyrics. Sing along:

  9. Duvid – I’m at work – can’t turn on the sound right now – but the new lyrics!! Magnificent!

  10. Ariadne and Silke, perhaps it is another Hamas “charm” (very) offensive and it’s very suss given that it’s been picked up and run with by the Groan?

    However, if it isn’t (and I am trying not to be too cynical given that the Groan and Hamas between them have done their level best to scotch the hopes of any peace in the ME) then yes, we should give them support.

    I still have reservations, however. I’d much rather this came from principle rather than as a reaction to Hamas’ particular version of Islamist loving its neighbour. If Hamas were indeed charming and just as rabidly anti-Israel and antisemitic, would we still have got this statement?

    (OK, I admit it. I am a cynic….)

  11. HairShirt, if it isn’t real surely we’d be looking at an Iranian creation? The Erekat puffs have no verisimilitude at all.

  12. Richard

    “the tragedy of dozens of dead police officers ”

    They were terrorists and Hamas had admitted it by the time O’Keefe was interviewed.

  13. “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 F16s 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 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, home-made 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.

    “There is a revolution growing inside of us, an immense dissatisfaction and frustration that will destroy us unless we find a way of canalising this energy into something that can challenge the status quo and give us some kind of hope.

    We barely survived the Operation Cast Lead, where Israel very effectively bombed the shit out of us, destroying thousands of homes and even more lives and dreams. During the war we got the unmistakable feeling that Israel wanted to erase us from the face of the Earth. During the last years, Hamas has been doing all they can to control our thoughts, behaviour and aspirations. Here in Gaza we are scared of being incarcerated, interrogated, hit, tortured, bombed, killed. We cannot move as we want, say what we want, do what we want.

    “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! We want to be free. We want to be able to live a normal life. We want peace. Is that too much to ask?”

    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.

    Yes Hamas very violent guards in prison is Gaza Israel made and keep! Smash the guards yes and then break the walls of the prison!!

  14. Daniel, when did you last see a mental health professional? This intensity is not at all healthy.

  15. “yes, we should give them support.”

    You say?

    Definitely!

    They want to destroy “the wall of shame that separates us from the rest of our country and keeps us imprisoned in a stamp-sized piece of land”.

    You say?

    Definitely!

    Gaza now, Majdal, Isdud, Jaffa soon.

  16. “…During the war we got the unmistakable feeling that Israel wanted to erase us from the face of the Earth..”

    Typical evidence of the paranoid splitting and projection* common among Arabs/Muslims, and, in the absence of peace talk rather than demands for an end to a war which they know they can never win and an end to the swivel-eyed lunatic regime which promises them certain death, I am afraid that this may well be more for show than substance.

    Add to that the probability that these same youngsters may well deny that they said any such thing, much less meant it, further down the line when push comes to shove, and will actually believe what they say I need more to convince me.

    That “more” has to include behaviour. These youngsters’ behaviour is totally self-referent and driven by what they think will be best for them, rather than best per se for the whole area. I would need more statements from them which would indicate a willingness to perceive Israel and its Jews in a mutualistic way rather than demand from Israel what they would not be prepared to reciprocate.

    The splitting and projection is a psychological process whereby all aggression is split off from their perception of themselves and projected onto others. Thus, even though Hamas has, again and again, announced its intention of wiping out Israel and its Jews, whereas the Israeli government’s stance is the direct opposite, nevertheless these youngsters project Hamas’ intentions onto Israel as if they were actually true.

    Like HairShirt, I am a cardholding cynic so far as this is concerned, until and unless there is the ongoing behaviour to match it and a sign that these youngsters are for peace in principle as well as for what it brings them.