By Stephen Lendman
Despite Palestinian Authority (PA) officials banning anti-Mubarak demonstrations, hundreds rallied in support. On February 5, Jerusalem Post writer Khaled Abu Toameh headlined, “100s demonstrate in Ramallah in support of Egyptians,” saying:
Marching in Ramallah with Egyptian flags, they publicly supported them “(f)or the first time since the beginning of the(ir( uprising….” Another Ramallah demonstration followed as well as a Bethlehem one.
Toameh’s February 2 article was in stark contrast headlined, “PA launches pro-Mubarak demonstration in Ramallah,” denouncing Mohamed ElBaradei as a “CIA agent.”
On February 4, the Popular Committees Against the Israeli Occupation issued a press release saying:
“The Egyptian Arab nation….We salute this great Arab nation, our brothers. This is the salute of freedom from the people of Palestine who have been fighting for decades for freedom and independence, and to retain the honor of Arabs.”
“The Palestinians are watching what is happening across the Arab world in general and Egypt in particular with great pride….We hope that the rebelling Arab people make it their priority to demand from any government or leadership to come to sever their ties with the Israeli occupation and abandon the Egyptian – Israeli peace treaty….We call on all free nations in the world, especially Europe and the US, to get out in massive demonstrations on 2/11/11 to confirm the right of peoples to live in freedom and dignity – a day of anger” for justice, the “beginning of the Global Intifada.”
On February 3, Haaretz writer Amira Hass headlined, “Why isn’t the PA supporting the Egypt uprising? saying:
Instead, it “banned demonstrations in solidarity with the rebelling peoples. Palestinian television has virtually ignored the events in Egypt.” Demonstrators at Cairo’s Ramallah consulate were monitored by plainclothes security forces.
“What is the (PA) afraid of….?” It has close ties with Mubarak like Israel, and “when a regime is insufficiently democratic, it fears that popular demonstrations might spin out of control.”
On February 7, Hass headlined, “Palestinian security suppressing West Bank fervor over Egypt protests,” saying:
PA security forces suppressed a Ramallah demonstration. Adnan Dmeiri, PA security forces spokesman, said “demonstrations could lead to chaos. The priority for Palestinians was to empower popular resistance against the occupation and to work for independence.”
In fact, Abbas/Fayyad security forces work cooperatively with Israel against it, enforcing occupation harshness. They’ve been well trained and financed to do it.
America’s Lt. General Keith Dayton, US security coordinator (USSC) for Israel and the PA, has been heavily involved in creating, building and training a 25,000-strong force. In recent years, Washington spent around $400 million institutionalizing hard-line control, supplementing Israel’s efforts.
Dayton’s in charge of building and renovating garrisons, training colleges, Interior Ministry facilities, and security headquarters. President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad head an illegitimate regime as Israeli/Washington enforcers, solidifying occupation and Israel’s settlement project, including entirely Judaizing Jerusalem.
Governing as political opportunist traitors, their Mubarak moment awaits them, perhaps sooner than they imagine for exploiting and betraying their own people, including attacking peaceful protesters.
Commenting on Ramallah events, an anonymous demonstrator said:
“We had not yet done a thing. A number of policemen in uniforms began arguing with one of the demonstrators, apparently on purpose, so as to create a pretext for arresting him. They took his identity card and then began dragging him in the direction of the police station.”
Human Right Watch (HRW) said PA policemen were joined by detectives, preventive security force personnel and others from general intelligence, “all of them plainclothesmen.” They beat, kicked and dragged demonstrators away violently. Numerous arrests were made. Photograph-taking was prohibited. Cell phones and cameras were confiscated, and PA forces videotaped events, wanting activists identified for later arrests and detentions.
Their numbers, however, grew to about 2,000, marching and chanting the slogan heard in Tunisia and Egypt:
“The people want the fall of the regime….The people want the fall of Abbas,” and an end to the internal Palestinian “inqisam (rift)!….Raise your voice, Arab masses! Dignity or death, we need a true unity!” Two (unnamed) “well-known” Fatah members joined them in solidarity.
On February 5, hundreds of Bil’in residents, joined by international and Israeli supporters, protested in solidarity with Egyptians and Tunisians. Calling for national unity, Israeli troops attacked them with tear gas and concussion grenades.
Gathering in Bil’in center for their weekly Friday demonstration, they marched toward Israel’s Separation Wall, what they call the Annexation Wall on village land. Their public statement said:
(1) “We salute the Egyptian and Tunisian people” in solidarity with their struggle for freedom;
(2) “We call for national unity and the preservation of civil peace (to) pass this historic stage successfully;”
(3) “We hope that rebelling Arab people make it their priority to demand from any government or leadership to come to sever their ties with the Israeli occupation and abandon the Egyptian – Israeli peace treaty” that ignored Palestinian people, leaving them occupied and repressed under militarized harshness.
(4) “We call on all free nations in the world” to rally in solidarity with Arab people struggling to be free.
From his perspective, Omar Barghouti, a founder and director of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, expressed no surprise how PA forces reacted, saying:
“Unelected, authoritarian regimes tend to stand together. They are very scared of popular mobilization especially in light of the Palestine Papers. (They) agree on repression and have no interest in empowerment of people or mobilization.”
On February 10, Haaretz writer Gideon Levy headlined, “The Middle East does not need stability,” saying:
When children throw stones at tanks entering neighborhoods it’s called “Disturbing the peace.” When they’re detained for resisting occupation, it’s called “Restoring order.”
“The occupier oppresses, the occupied people overcome their instincts and their struggle, and good order is maintained – for now. Stability.”
Egyptians dared “disturb the peace,” undermining Middle East stability. “Indeed, that stability should be undermined” throughout the region, including in Occupied Palestine. How else can oppressed people be free. Stability suffocates them. Resistance is liberating if sustained long enough.
Egyptians and Tunisians made a good start, but their struggle has just begun. When will Palestinians begin theirs? When tanks invade neighborhoods, “stones must be thrown at (them); the infuriating stability of the Middle East must be wiped out,” replaced by liberating freedom, perhaps contagious enough to spread regionally, but never easily, quickly or without great risks and costs.
Egypt’s outcome has regional implications, including in Occupied Palestine, especially given Mubarak’s cooperative role with Israel and Washington. As a result, PA officials noticeably distanced themselves from uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Yemen and Algeria, fearing soon one may target them. They’ve also aggressively cracked down to prevent it through violence, intimidation and arrests.
So far, it’s worked, but for how long. Egyptians endured three decades under Mubarak. In 1948, Palestinians lost their homeland, and for nearly 44 years suffered brutally under militarized occupation, exacerbated by collaborating PA enforcers.
Perhaps Egyptian courage will inspire them to summon theirs for liberating freedom under leaders they choose.
– Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: [email protected] and visit: sjlendman.blogspot.com.