“Fuck Hamas,” it begins. “Fuck Israel. Fuck Fatah. Fuck UN. Fuck UNWRA. Fuck USA!” The Gaza Youth Manifesto for Change, published three weeks ago, is an angry indictment of (nearly) all sides in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, and it’s been getting a huge amount of attention on the internet and beyond.
The anonymous authors of the manifesto — eight secular Gaza college students, they say, three women and five men — are fed up:
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.
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!
It’s powerful writing, drawing on traditions of non-sectarian youth organizing — because young people often lack strong personal commitments to existing institutions, their organizing often operates outside of, and critical of, such structures.
But is the manifesto too good to be true? I wondered myself, the first time I read it. Edward Teller, a blogger at Firedoglake is wondering too, noting the international funders behind the Sharek Youth Forum, whose suppression by Hamas the manifesto condemns. Is the document genuine, Teller asks, or is its publication yet another chess move by one of the forces it’s ostensibly opposed to?
The Guardian ran an article on the manifesto over the weekend, interviewing several of its authors in Gaza. “The group,” the paper said, “is currently investing most of its time and energy in debating new strategies to pursue a web-based platform for change.”
Interesting. I’m eager to see how this story develops.
Update | I asked GYBO, via their Facebook page, if they had a response to the Firedoglake story, but they deleted my post from their wall. I’ve just emailed them to ask the question again, and will update if I receive any response.
Wednesday Update | I apparently owe GYBO an apology. As they noted on their new blog this morning, Facebook restricted their ability to post on their page yesterday. As part of that restriction, they say, posts to their wall on which they commented were automatically deleted by Facebook itself. If this is true — and I have no reason to doubt it — then my previous update was in error. Sorry.
GYBO hasn’t yet replied directly to the questions about their funding and affiliations raised at Firedoglake, but another post at their blog yesterday provided a bit more detail about their political perspective and goals. I’m still interested in hearing their response to the Firedoglake stuff, and I intend to ask them again via Twitter today, but I do want to make something clearer than I did yesterday.
When I borrowed Edward Teller’s formulation of the question of GYBO’s identity — “is the document genuine … or is its publication yet another chess move by one of the forces it’s ostensibly opposed to?” — I gave that particular analysis more weight than I intended. The reality is that the question of GYBO’s “genuineness” and that of the group’s affiliations are two separate questions. Whether GYBO is affiliated with funders outside of Gaza, or affiliated with people who are affiliated with such funders, is a separate question from that of what its goals and motivations are.
The folks at GYBO — or some of them, at least — got the impression yesterday that I was hostile to their project. That’s a mistaken impression, but the responsibility for the mistake is mostly mine, not theirs. Again, apologies.