2011: Kickass year

This is coming a little bit late, but it is better than never, ha?

We said goodbye to one of the most eventful, exciting, exhausting and breath-taking years. 2011 managed to keep us on our toes in every single day that passed by waiting, dreaming, analysing, protesting, crying, revolting and fighting for freedom, justice and dignity.

It was quite surprising to see the insanely happy people kissing- or rather kicking- 2011 goodbye.However my feelings were floating in a different horizon. 2011 was a worthy year that I can neither afford forgetting nor can I ignore for it was the year where people had mastered the art of defiance and learned for the first time how to say NO! I cannot forget it because in 2011 people put their freedom above their lives! It is the year where decades-old regimes fell down. The year when the 140 twitter characters repainted the geography of the world. The year Facebook, twitter, Youtube’s “little kids” with claimed “agendas” threatened the world’s and the region’s greatest systems of oppression. The year my three-year-old nephew chanted “The People Want to Topple the Regime” which later led him to ironically claim his needs using slogans such as “The People Want more Chocolate Milk”. The year when mainstream agenda-controlled media got a strike on the head by the amateurs of social media. The year that Arabs finally regained the power to teach the world a lesson in history, bravery and freedom! The year of Bouazizi, who set himself on fire to light our hearts and give us the strength to fight the darkness that has prevailed for too long. The year of the two Palestinian popular resistance martyrs against Israeli occupation:

2011 was a year of spark in Palestine too. How could we forget the bravery of Jawaher Abu Rahma and Mustafa Tamimi who were deliberately murdered by Israeli gas canisters. Yes, make no mistake, these were no accidents, and for that we shall never forget 2011!

The year of the doomsday scene -as my friends describe it- when thousands of Palestinian refugees marched to their stolen Palestinian lands from Syria, Lebanon in commemoration of the sixty-three anniversary of our 48 Nakba. May 15th of last year was something else. It had a different flavor, the flavor of optimism and hope that I have not had the pleasure of knowing before. It was a turning point in my life and the lives of many young Palestinian refugees who believed the dream of return was out of reach. 2011 taught me I was wrong and for the first time I am happy to be wrong! The persistence of those young people giving away their lives for a homeland -secured by UN resolutions
and breached by them too- made me believe that justice is not only doable but also durable if only we keep that persistence inside.

On a personal level, I have been subjected to the most dignifying and humiliating treatment in one year, yes it is still 2011. I had the honour of getting arrested by the de-facto government of Hamas for standing in solidarity with the Egyptian revolutionaries in their fight for justice. I have been interrogated by Hamas’s interior security for traveling. I have been sexually harassed (both in Egypt and Gaza). And for my disperse I have lost a friend and a fighter who used his mere body to defend Palestinian civilians, farmers, and fishermen-Vittorio Arrigoni. I also had the honour of getting attacked and beaten up by Hamas government while protesting the national division that has prolonged for over five years and reduced our dreams of liberty to struggle for water, relief, and breadcrumbs. It seems claiming unity and social justice automatically means one thing to both Fatah-led Palestinian Authority and the de-facto government of Hamas=collaboration and foreign agendas. Unlike all young people in the Arab world, when young Palestinians took the streets in 15th March 2011, they demanded “National Unity” and political representation. Everyone left their factional flags behind and for the first time the Palestinian flags were covering the streets, so colourful, peaceful and uniting. What started virtually on the pages of social media was translated into actions that were too loud to be silenced and hidden despite the deliberate targeting of journalists and anyone who had a camera or a cell phone. The persecution did not end by the end of the demonstrations. In Gaza Hamas is still threatened by our defiance and its interior security has been busy ever since. When arrested I was treated like a criminal, someone of no ethics, education or dignity. Every time I am interrogated I see patriarchy manifested in their questions, comments, and jokes about a woman’s activism. The more mockery they made, the less powerful they seemed in my eyes. 2011 taught me to pity them and pity all those who passed their judgements on who I am (including family members) because a woman’s activism-unlike men’s- is not worthy of respect. A woman with a record in the Ministry of Interior is a woman of “reputation” a woman stripped of “decency” and “honour”, a woman of “stains”! But not once have I ever questioned that this is Gaza! Our Gaza that embraces all her sons and daughters irrespective of their differences, beliefs, and gender.
The misery was later complete with the death of two family friends, and a denial of entry visa to our beloved Tunis for the Third Arab Bloggers Conference.

On the other hand, it was the time when I felt the need and the will to say enough. I was inspired by Vittorio’s bravery that put me and my friends in the corner and urged us to protest the occupation in the “buffer zone” and support farmers end the confiscation of their lands and destruction of their livelihoods. Something that seemed more sound than running after two allegedly legitimate Palestinian governments to persuade them of unity.

Heading to the "Buffer Zone"

I travelled, for the very first time in my life, to Paris and Egypt for one month and a half. My trip opened my eyes to injustice we –Gazans- are not even able to comprehend. It only hits you when you see the outside world and only then life literally becomes unbearable. I will always remain thankful for that experience for I could finally say that my connection to the outside world has finally gone beyond the virtual walls of social media.
I finally got to meet my aunt’s family who lives in the West bank (for those who don’t know, Gaza and West bank are geographically separated and Palestinians need to obtain special Israeli permits to move in between and those permits are almost never given). We met in Sharm Al Sheikh where we had some five –FAMILY- magical days.

2011 made me realize that no matter how bad all our leaders turned out to be, we do have some amazing and extraordinary young activists whom I met personally or virtually through social media. And those with their unlimited energy are the engines of the change!

I can say that if it were not for all the ghastly experiences I have been through, the atrocious news I have been following, I would not be who I am today. I would have not had the passion and experience that urged me to blog, share and connect to the outside world.

2012 can only be the time when the rest of the people will get the infection of “change” and will wake up to question everything in attempt to find the truth, search for freedom, and live in dignity. But for those who already did, it will be the time to charge up and carry on what they had started and who knows? Maybe 2012 will be a time to harvest what they had planted and sacrificed throughout the glorious year of 2011.

2011 taught us that no matter how dark and unjust life can be, we still have a choice. For living is a decision and living in dignity is also a decision if only PEOPLE believed! Power to the people

Happy 2012 everyone…everywhere

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2 Responses to “2011: Kickass year”

  1. Palestine Youth Voice Says:

    You’re an inspiration, and you’re one of the people I meant with this sentence
    “كأنما الحرية تقف على أعتابنا. كأنما اغتزال نضال شعب وعنفوانه يتجسد بآلهة كنعان.”

    and I mean it.

  2. bubbamuntzer Says:

    Very moving piece, and like the other commenter said, inspiring. One definitely gets the feeling the year is not over. I like the way it moves back and forth between the general and the particular–others have captured that it was an exhilarating year, but that grounds it in reality.

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