Creating new perspectives since 2009

Palestinian youth have Arab Spring in their step

March 3, 2014 at 11:35 am

Little attention has been paid to the increasing phenomena of peaceful demonstrations which have been held by apparently “non-aligned” Palestinian youth in the West Bank. These remarkably resembling the peaceful demonstrations that scattered across the Arab world though remain in lesser degree.

Similar to the recent Arab uprisings, these non-violent protests have been orchestrated by the Palestinian youth; youth were the driving force behind the Arab uprisings in Egypt, Yemen and Tunisia.

According to the Jordanian journalist Raed Omari, the large and serious Palestinian rally of hundreds of Palestinian to reestablish Ein Hijleh village in the Jordan Valley, the weekly demonstrations against the construction of the wall in the Palestinian village of Bil’in and the protest camps built at Bab Al-Shams, not far from Jerusalem, can easily be identified as being influenced by an Arab Spring-style mass revolution.

Also similar to the youth movements in the Arab Spring countries, such as the Tamarod (meaning rebellion) in Egypt, the young people in Palestine have also initiated the Melh Al-ard (Salt of the Earth), a nationwide action campaign with the primary objective of speaking out against the Israeli efforts to take over the Jordan Valley.

Organisation members have established an encampment which they named Al-Awda (meaning return) close to the Israeli checkpoint in the north of the Jordan Valley that was also evicted by the Israeli security personnel.

In such manifestation of peaceful rebellion, the Palestinian advocates have inoffensively united to stake their claim to the land. They are also expressing their objection towards the United States mediated peace negotiations which they believe will have Palestinians compromise the most.

Moreover, resembling many Arab Spring states, where peaceful revolutions were headed or inspired by youth activists or revolutionary figures like Wael Ghanim of Egypt, there appears to be a general agreement within the Palestinian youth on the non-partisan Palestinian politician Mustafa Barghouti, a leading figure of the Palestinian National Initiative, as the leader of their non-violent movements.

In addition to his non-violent resistance strategy, Barghouti, who is also a physician based in Ramallah, is able to attract activists to the cause in several ways. He is not contentious figure, compared to other Palestinian figures such as Khaled Meshaal or Mahmoud Abbas. The US educated political advocate has also been involved in many humanitarian and social activities across the occupied land. Now apart from this resemblance of the Arab Spring-type upheaval, the most important point is that there is an increasing phenomenon of peaceful resistance in the Palestinian land that is gaining momentum which is undoubtedly difficult to handle morally by the Israelis and embarrassing to its staunchest supporters in Washington.

The Israelis strained relations with the Palestinians have taken the form of popular uprisings (intifada), armed fighting and peace talks that have never been able to produce a lasting breakthrough to the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict. The continuing American mediated negotiations are not an exception.

With a very tiny possibility of a new intifada or an armed rebellion against the Israelis, the most apparent likelihood for the collapse or stalemate to the ongoing peace discussions would no longer be the status quo of “no war, no peace” but rather an expansion of the recently initiated peaceful resistance by young Palestinians.

If the Palestinian Authority fails once more to protect Palestinian aspirations, along with Hamas’ inadequate political tactics, let alone military strategies, these peaceful resistances will likely become the “backup plan” for Palestinians.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.