As Israel Tries to Bomb the Palestinian Spring Out of Existence, Could Egyptian Protesters be the Palestinians’ Only Hope?
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The bombing has instead shifted focus solely onto Gaza and the armed resistance – consisting mostly of crudely made rockets that are barely noticed as they land in the desert -- instead of on expanding protests confronting symbolic borders and checkpoints to expose and confront Israeli segregation policies and divide and rule tactics.
“Now the leadership only represent themselves, not the youth,” Quran told me in March, just after PA police began clashing with university students. “There is no difference in what they want,” he added, referring to Palestinian Authority administration in the West Bank and the Hamas government in Gaza. “It’s just about power."
For Israel, the division of Palestinian power allows it to keep Gaza isolated, continue the colonization of the West Bank and Jerusalem, control its Palestinian citizens and maintain a heavily armed border to block refugees.
As Israel has worked to turn back the political clock and both the PLO leadership and Hamas have taken the opportunity to demonstrate their marginal and ultimately self-serving power, the Palestinian people may have only one hope. In an ironic twist of history that would have been all but unthinkable only eight months ago, Egypt is holding the door to Palestine open for the Arab Spring.
After Palestinian fighters launched a raid into Israel and then fled into Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, Israeli forces launched a cross-border attack that killed an Egyptian army officer and two security guards. In response, Egyptians poured into the streets around Israel's Cairo Embassy. Demanding Egypt end its normalized relations with Israel and that Israel cease all attacks on Gaza, the protests forced a reluctant Egyptian government to recall its ambassador in Tel Aviv for consultation, temporarily destabilizing relations with Israel's most strategic ally in the region.
Although the ambassador has since returned to his post, the response by Egypt's government demonstrates the continued tension between its ruling military council and the democratic popular will. It also highlights the power of the Egyptian people to directly change state policy through protest. Perhaps, the most important message for Palestinians to come from Cairo is that if they take to the streets to end their oppression, the Arab revolutions will be there to support them.
Jesse Rosenfeld is a journalist recently on assignment for NOW Magazine covering the Second Freedom Flotilla from Greece. He has written for the Nation, Al Jazeera English, Le Monde Diplomatique, the Irish Times and many other publications.