‘German GQ’ gets a political story American media have ignored: Palestinian youth

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GQ Cover
“Spring in Palestine” in April 2012 German GQ magazine article by Joseph Dana.                    (Photo: Adam Golfer/GQ Deutsch)

“Hidden from the news cycle of endless peace negotiations and fears of impeding violence in the region, non-aligned political activists are perfecting forms of civil disobedience,” writes Joseph Dana for the April 2012 issue of German GQ magazine. Dana continues, the new youth movement believes these demonstrations “will form the backbone of the next chapter in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.”

For his article, titled “Spring in Palestine,” Dana tagged along in the West Bank with Palestinian activists Diana Alzeer and Fadi Quran. Alzeer is a Ramallah-based organizer with a devoted Twitter following under the handle @ManaraRam and Fadi Quran (@FadiQuran) is the Stanford graduate who is best known for participating in the Palestinian Freedom Rides with the long-time Palestinian human rights advocate, Huwaida Araf.

In the article, Dana captures the changes in Palestinian politics where the old guard political leadership is swapped for the young and energetic. Alzeer and Quran are “disconnected from Palestinian party politics and inspired by the Arab Spring,” not the PA. And yet, despite the big changes the youth are causing on the ground, rarely are these types of Palestinians covered in mainstream magazines—and with the same depth and nuance as Dana uses.

In order to publish the below excerpt of the article, we got a translation from the published German copy.

Fadi Quran. (Photo: Adam Golfer/GQ Deutsch)
Diana Alzeer. (Photo: Adam Golfer/GQ Deutsch)
Screen Shot 2012 04 02 at 1 58 05 PM
“Spring in Palestine” in April 2012 German GQ magazine article by Joseph Dana.                   (Photo: Adam Golfer/GQ Deutsch)

Alzeer and Quran are part of the growing movement of youth organizing
against the Palestinian political leadership and Israel’s on-going land grabs. Unaffiliated groups like Hirak Shababi and Palestinians for Dignity have held unprecedented protests condemning the Palestinian Authority, and the youth movement has also protested on the front lines in villages like Nabi Saleh and Hebron. In February, while protesting, Quran was arrested in Hebron on trumped up charges of assault to an officer and resisting arrest. Two days later, after the Israeli released him from prison on bail, the investigation against Quran remained open, despite exonerating video footage. Quran has not been arraigned by the Israeli military, but charges could still be brought against him at anytime.

An excerpt in translation, from “Spring in Palestine”:

Quran and Alzeer do not confine their activism simply to protesting and organizing. Quran recently returned to Ramallah after completing a degree in engineering and international relations at Stanford University. He is working on a start-up green energy company which will bring wind electricity to Palestine, thus lowering Palestinian dependence on Israeli energy, which is provided at inflated prices to the residents of the West Bank. Alzeer is similarly involved in an organization she believes to be helping the Palestinian people. She is the chief media officer of the Central Elections Committee- the independent observer of Palestinian elections in the West Bank and Gaza. For the new generation of Palestinian activists, activism can’t be divorced from daily life.

Non-violence as a tactic is a striking component of the March 15th platform. Western observers have long wondered why Palestinians have not adopted forms of non-violent resistance on a larger scale. The commonly held position states that if Palestinians adopted such tactics, then the West would quickly and wholeheartedly rally behind the Palestinian struggle. According to activists, non-violence has been employed for years but is often overshadowed by attacks on Israeli civilians by radical political factions. ‘As Palestinians, we tried armed resistance during the Second Intifada, apart from the fact that I do not agree with it in any way, it only got us backwards,’ Diana Alzeer noted in her modest Ramallah apartment, the evening before a demonstration. ‘We did not move forward.’

Ultimately, Fadi Quran argues, the role of activists must be to make Israel’s occupation as difficult as possible to manage, using every non-violent tactic at their disposal. In a conflict where one side is at a great disadvantage in regard to power relations, symbolic acts of non-compliance are perhaps the only way of inflicting significant damage. ‘The only thing that really puts pressure on the Israelis throughout history in terms of their relationship with Palestinians, has been acts of civil disobedience like those of the First Intifada. It forced the Israeli government to give concessions to the Palestinians.’

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Justice Please
Justice Please

I wonder why they cut off the word “Palästina”, Palestine, with a gap between “Palä” and “stina”. Clearly, the background picture can’t be the reason for that decision.

Aside from that, good work from Dana and GQ.


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