You’ve probably seen it already by now, but an early contender for the most inspiring piece of writing in 2011 is the amazing Gazan Youth Manifesto:
“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.
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. It is difficult to find words for the pressure we are under. 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. They did not get rid of Hamas, as they intended, but they sure scared us forever and distributed post traumatic stress syndrome to everybody, as there was nowhere to run.
We are youth with heavy hearts. We carry in ourselves a heaviness so immense that it makes it difficult to us to enjoy the sunset. How to enjoy it when dark clouds paint the horizon and bleak memories run past our eyes every time we close them? We smile in order to hide the pain. We laugh in order to forget the war. We hope in order not to commit suicide here and now. 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. We are a generation of young people used to face missiles, carrying what seems to be a impossible mission of living a normal and healthy life, and only barely tolerated by a massive organization that has spread in our society as a malicious cancer disease, causing mayhem and effectively killing all living cells, thoughts and dreams on its way as well as paralyzing people with its terror regime. Not to mention the prison we live in, a prison sustained by a so-called democratic country.
History is repeating itself in its most cruel way and nobody seems to care. We are scared. Here in Gaza we are scared of being incarcerated, interrogated, hit, tortured, bombed, killed. We are afraid of living, because every single step we take has to be considered and well-thought, there are limitations everywhere, we cannot move as we want, say what we want, do what we want, sometimes we even cant think what we want because the occupation has occupied our brains and hearts so terrible that it hurts and it makes us want to shed endless tears of frustration and rage!
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!
We want three things. 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 a peace movement consistent of young people in Gaza and supporters elsewhere that will not rest until the truth about Gaza is known by everybody in this whole world and in such a degree that no more silent consent or loud indifference will be accepted.
This is the Gazan youth’s manifesto for change!
We will start by destroying the occupation that surrounds ourselves, we will break free from this mental incarceration and regain our dignity and self respect. We will carry our heads high even though we will face resistance. We will work day and night in order to change these miserable conditions we are living under. We will build dreams where we meet walls.
We only hope that you – yes, you reading this statement right now! – can support us. In order to find out how, please write on our wall or contact us directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
We want to be free, we want to live, we want peace.
FREE GAZA YOUTH!”
Naturally enough, the British left being what it is, this beautiful confirmation of what internationalists have been saying about Palestine all along has already attracted a response as stupid as the manifesto is inspiring, as Western lefties denounce it as having been posted by “EDL trolls” and claim that it is “racist” to treat Palestinians as grown-ups with the potential to develop politics as complex as our own. Apparently it’s not OK for Westerners to criticise Palestinians or tell them what to do, unless we’re criticising Palestinian dissidents and telling them to support Hamas, in which case it’s fine.
Meanwhile on the home front, a vaguely interesting debate has opened up between Laurie Penny and Alex Callinicos, the man responsible for what passes as theory in the Socialist Workers Party. While, obviously, neither has perfect politics, it’s difficult not to root for Penny simply on the grounds that she has the ability to write like a human being, while Callinicos, despite all evidence to the contrary, still views himself as being the carrier of the pure and uncorrupted scientific consciousness passed down from Marx to Lenin to Trotsky to the founders of the SWP. For those who agree with Penny on the importance of not allowing this movement to be monopolised by any one faction, the Network X gathering coming up soon looks like it will be an important chance to organise alternative channels of communication across the movement that can’t be shut down by any of the competing leaderships.
Finally, in keeping with what I’ve been saying about the importance of legal defence campaigns, one’s been set up in Newcastle to defend 3 activists arrested in connection with anti-cuts activity. While this is an important development, it’s not entirely unproblematic, since it appears to be dominated by the deeply dodgy Stalinists of the Revolutionary Communist Group (publishers of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!, one of the few newspapers that can boast two exclamation marks in its name).
So, rather than sticking to a simple defence of the need for militant anti-cuts activity, the defence campaign’s blog is being used to host a lengthy denunciation of HSBC’s role in global imperialism – as anyone who reads my blog can see, I’m no stranger to long, boring political rants, but I publish them as my individual views. It’s fine for an organisation based around a tight set of shared politics to put forward lengthy analyses, but for one group to use a campaign as a platform for their (not very good) theories, when they obviously haven’t consulted all that campaign’s supporters about it, is really not OK and suggests a serious lack of democratic structure.
UPDATE: Ignore that bit, I was over-hasty there. It turns out the article was actually written by one of the activists who’s been charged and so, while I’m not going to pretend that I thought it was a brilliant article, I don’t really think it’s that massively wrong for a defence campaign to give a platform to the people it’s defending. So, yeah, still not exactly loving the RCG, but it’s still important to defend them against the state.
Still, despite these major reservations, this campaign, and any others like it that may emerge, is still definitely worth supporting, because “we” as a nation may not all be in it together, but “we” as a class certainly are, and solidarity against the state is the only way to win this one, even if that does mean showing solidarity to people with dodgy-as-fuck politics. Happy new year!