When the revolution started in Tunis, everybody here was extremely happy. The Tunisian revolution developed so fast that we didn’t even wake up in time to make a supportive demonstration. All we did was to organize a celebration in the Haifa elGhad club after the toppling of the Ben-Ali dictatorship, with a festive musical program. The motto of the celebration was taken from Ahmad Fu’ad’s lyrics: “With every revolution we are cheerful”.
We learned from the experience and decided to be more active: we want to take part in the struggle and not only to celebrate its achievements. We had an immediate opportunity to practice this new insight by living daily the ups and downs of the Egyptian revolution. As the millions were gathering in Tahrir Square, we were gathering, few dozens of us, in elJabal Street, our miniature Tahrir, singing the revolutionary songs, shouting the slogans and waving Palestinian, Tunisian and Egyptian flags. When the news of Mubarak’s fall came in, within an hour we organized a festive march around the streets of Arab Haifa.
After the initial delight, there came a long period of confusion and silence. The Libyan revolution started as a popular apprising, but couldn’t win without the military support of NATO. Even though there is no much love for elKaddafi here, also nobody here is in a mood to thank NATO for anything they might do.
Things got more complicated yet with the Syrian revolution. It is hard enough that the daily slaughter, with no clear strategy for victory in sight, left no place for the delight of the initial fast victories. But what made things worse here is that many people became deeply confused. I would not relate here to the reasons why some Palestinians support the Assad regime, but it is important to mention that the position toward the Syrian revolution created deep divisions within each Palestinian party, each group and almost each family.
Now you may think that political divisions are the daily bread of political parties and activists, but this is not the case here. For the most part, the daily political life in Palestine 48 is all devoted to resisting Israeli Apartheid, Discrimination, Racism, Expropriation, Persecutions and whatever else might come daily from this regime… So there is not much discussion of “Pros” and “Contras”, only one long search for what you can do to defend yourself and the people around you. If we unite we can sometimes stop the Bulldozers… if we stand apart we are doomed.
We held some demonstrations in support of the Syrian revolution before. I remember at least two in Nazareth and two in Haifa. But it was basically a call of conscience – come to be counted, make sure that you are one of those that didn’t stay silent when our brothers and sisters in Syria were hunted and gunned down in the streets.
Tonight, Wednesday, 8/2/2012, it seems to be different. The event on Facebook was the center of interest, with many people inviting their friends, more than 250 joining the virtual demo and more than 50 “maybe”. On the event’s wall there were daily heroic battles against Assad Dictatorship’s trolls.
Now it was the turn of the youth activists that couldn’t bear to stay silent while the old leadership is unable to make its mind. They organized the event; they sang the song of the Syrian revolution just as we sang the songs of the Egyptian revolution a year ago.
Some 100 people gathered at 20:00 at the Haifa winter (admittedly dry and not very cold) night. Many were coming from other cities and townships from Yaffa in the south through Nazareth in the east till northern Galilee. Most were after a hard working day or students in the middle of their examinations period. Many of the participants are central activists in the youth movement of existing parties or in new “Herak Shababi” groups, the independent youth organizations that spring up all around Palestine as a local expression of the new revolutionary spirit.
There were four main slogans written on big canvas: “Stop the Massacre”, “Down with the dictatorship”, “Long Live the Revolution” and “Palestine Hails Syria”. The last two were painted with the colors of the new flag of the Syrian revolution, with the green line at the top and the black at the bottom – so everyone could know at first glance what we stand for. Above the demonstration flew some Palestinian flags, an Egyptian flag and some old Syrian flags – as people don’t see contradiction between the traditional Syrian patriotism and the new revolution… It is the regime that they accuse of betraying its patriotic pretensions by killing the Syrian people.
After more than half an hour of shouting and singing in elJabal, there was a spontaneous march through elKarmah Street and down the entertainment center of “Carmel Avenue”. Two police patrol cars, which apparently were not expecting the march, kept following the march without interference. If the political elites are divided over the Syrian revolution, the wide Arab public, as represented by workers and customers in the many coffee shops and restaurants by which the demonstration passed were apparently perfectly satisfied to hear the well known Syrian revolutionary songs. A group of youth that gathered to celebrate birthday gave a standing ovation. People that ordered a meal for 100 shekel couldn’t do more than wave their hands and say hello, but some youth that were satisfied with 10 shekel ice cream joined the marchers.
The last stop, in the middle of Carmel Avenue, was “The Prisoners Square”. It was given this name by the local activists in October 2011, when it was the center of hunger strike in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners. There the activists gathered for open discussion of the next steps in solidarity with the Syrian revolution. It was agreed that from now on the struggle should continue systematically, taking the message to more places, educating as well as demonstrating.
Everybody was invite to take part in the next demonstration in Arab Yaffa, on Friday 10/2, at 18:00.