The deal to release hunger striker Khader Adnan came about because he had embarrassed Israeli authorities, because of international attention, and because of Palestinian demonstrations in solidarity (as experts from the Institute for Middle East Understanding explained yesterday).
Last week in Palestine I went to one of those demonstrations, outside Ofer prison in the occupied West Bank. It was chaotic. Soldiers fired tear gas and rubber bullets, ambulances flew up to the front lines and back to pick up young people stunned by rubber bullets, young women led thrilling chants, and young men threw rocks and burned tires.
The video I made above of an interview with Doraed Hassona, 21, a student at Bir Zeit University, is probably the most important piece I will bring back from Israel and Palestine this visit. As I’m sure you will agree, this young man is the very best that comes out of his society– or any other society. He is polite, genuine, and highly articulate. His face is filled with sweetness.
Having just heard women leading a chant that repeatedly called for “Thawra,” I asked Hassona what this word means, and he explains that it is revolution. We are “sick of Israeli policies” and sick of occupation, he says, and want revolutionary change.
Why would a young man of such promise endorse revolution? Be sure to go to minute 5 when I ask Hassona, who is from Tulkarem in the occupied West Bank, if he has ever been to the sea, nine miles away.
Then watch his face as I ask him if any of his brothers and sisters have ever been to the sea, or to Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.
This post is not an endorsement of revolution. I am for a peaceful transition in Israel and Palestine. But this video is important because Hassona is only reflecting widespread desperation among Palestinians. Everywhere I went I met people who had hoped that the peace process would produce a normal society for them. And all the peace process has done is to extend and prolong frightening and insulting conditions (of apartheid and ethnic cleansing that I will document in days to come). It is no wonder that even Sari Nusseibeh has declared that the two-state solution is a fantasy.
Look at this young man’s face when he tells you he has never been to the sea or to the Al-Aqsa mosque and then recall Obama’s words in Cairo three years ago–“Let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own”–and then ask yourself what we have done to fulfill that promise.