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‘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.

FadiQuran
Fadi Quran. (Photo: Adam Golfer/GQ Deutsch)
DinaAlzeer
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.’

Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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5 Responses

  1. Justice Please on April 4, 2012, 5:45 am

    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.

    • Woody Tanaka on April 4, 2012, 10:15 am

      “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.”

      GQ uses “perfect binding” meaning that all the pages are, essentially, glued together and to the cover at the spine. (Think National Geographic.) This is in contrast to, for example, stapling (like Time or Newsweek.)

      When you lay out a page that is going to be perfectly bound, the lettering on the page has to account for the fact that the pages will not be sitting flat when read, but will plunge toward the spine. So additional spacing is added in the area where the pages meet, so that when the issue is opened, the spacing appears to the eye to be correct. When it is laid out like this, however, the additional space is glaring; but in the print version, it isn’t noticeable.

      • Justice Please on April 4, 2012, 3:07 pm

        So at Mondo, I do not only learn about the Middle East and Jewish America, but also about how to make magazines :-)

        Thanks for the explanation!

  2. lysias on April 4, 2012, 4:59 pm

    Günter Grass speaks up in the Süddeutsche Zeitung about Israel and the looming war with Iran: Gedicht zum Konflikt zwischen Israel und Iran: Was gesagt werden muss [Poem on the Conflict Between Israel and Iran: What Has to be Said]:

    Warum schweige ich, verschweige zu lange,
    was offensichtlich ist und in Planspielen
    geübt wurde, an deren Ende als Überlebende
    wir allenfalls Fußnoten sind.

    Es ist das behauptete Recht auf den Erstschlag,
    der das von einem Maulhelden unterjochte
    und zum organisierten Jubel gelenkte
    iranische Volk auslöschen könnte,
    weil in dessen Machtbereich der Bau
    einer Atombombe vermutet wird.

    Doch warum untersage ich mir,
    jenes andere Land beim Namen zu nennen,
    in dem seit Jahren – wenn auch geheimgehalten –
    ein wachsend nukleares Potential verfügbar
    aber außer Kontrolle, weil keiner Prüfung
    zugänglich ist?

    Das allgemeine Verschweigen dieses Tatbestandes,
    dem sich mein Schweigen untergeordnet hat,
    empfinde ich als belastende Lüge
    und Zwang, der Strafe in Aussicht stellt,
    sobald er mißachtet wird;
    das Verdikt “Antisemitismus” ist geläufig.

    Jetzt aber, weil aus meinem Land,
    das von ureigenen Verbrechen,
    die ohne Vergleich sind,
    Mal um Mal eingeholt und zur Rede gestellt wird,
    wiederum und rein geschäftsmäßig, wenn auch
    mit flinker Lippe als Wiedergutmachung deklariert,
    ein weiteres U-Boot nach Israel
    geliefert werden soll, dessen Spezialität
    darin besteht, allesvernichtende Sprengköpfe
    dorthin lenken zu können, wo die Existenz
    einer einzigen Atombombe unbewiesen ist,
    doch als Befürchtung von Beweiskraft sein will,
    sage ich, was gesagt werden muß.

    Warum aber schwieg ich bislang?
    Weil ich meinte, meine Herkunft,
    die von nie zu tilgendem Makel behaftet ist,
    verbiete, diese Tatsache als ausgesprochene Wahrheit
    dem Land Israel, dem ich verbunden bin
    und bleiben will, zuzumuten.

    Warum sage ich jetzt erst,
    gealtert und mit letzter Tinte:
    Die Atommacht Israel gefährdet
    den ohnehin brüchigen Weltfrieden?
    Weil gesagt werden muß,
    was schon morgen zu spät sein könnte;
    auch weil wir – als Deutsche belastet genug –
    Zulieferer eines Verbrechens werden könnten,
    das voraussehbar ist, weshalb unsere Mitschuld
    durch keine der üblichen Ausreden
    zu tilgen wäre.

    Und zugegeben: ich schweige nicht mehr,
    weil ich der Heuchelei des Westens
    überdrüssig bin; zudem ist zu hoffen,
    es mögen sich viele vom Schweigen befreien,
    den Verursacher der erkennbaren Gefahr
    zum Verzicht auf Gewalt auffordern und
    gleichfalls darauf bestehen,
    daß eine unbehinderte und permanente Kontrolle
    des israelischen atomaren Potentials
    und der iranischen Atomanlagen
    durch eine internationale Instanz
    von den Regierungen beider Länder zugelassen wird.

    Nur so ist allen, den Israelis und Palästinensern,
    mehr noch, allen Menschen, die in dieser
    vom Wahn okkupierten Region
    dicht bei dicht verfeindet leben
    und letztlich auch uns zu helfen.

    “b” of Moon of Alabama‘s translation:

    What has to be said

    Why am I silent, conceal too long,
    what is obvious and in war games
    has been trained, at whose end we as survivors
    will at the most be footnotes.

    It is the alleged right of first strike,
    with which the Iranian people,
    subjugated by a loudmouth
    and steered towards organized elation,
    could be snuffed out with,
    because the building of a nuclear bomb
    within its fiefdom is assumed.

    But why do I prohibit myself,
    to name that other country,
    in which for years – though kept secret –
    a growing capability exists
    though out of control as
    not open for audit?

    The general concealment of this fact,
    to which my silence subjugated,
    feels for me like a burdoning lie
    and a coercion, which promises punishment;
    the verdict “antisemitism” is commonly used.

    But now, because from my country,
    which for its very own crimes,
    which are incomparable,
    is called up again and again and taken to task,
    repeatedly and businesslike, though
    by slippy lips declared as reparation,
    another submarine to Israel
    shall be delivered, whose specialty
    consists of, steering all-annihilating warheads
    whereto, the existence
    of a single bomb is unproven,
    but as a fear shall be conclusiveness,
    I say, what has to be said.

    But why my silence so far?
    Because I though, my origin,
    which has a not redeemable taint,
    prohibited me, to strain,
    with this fact as spoken truth,
    the country Israel, to which I am
    and want to stay beholden.

    Why do I speak only now,
    aged and with my last ink:
    The nuclear power Israel endangers
    an already fragile world peace?
    Because it has to be said,
    what already tomorrow could be too late;
    also because we – as Germans burdened enough –
    could become supplier for a crime,
    which is foreseeable, which is why our complicity
    could not be redeemed
    with the usual subterfuges.

    And admittedly: I no longer remain silent,
    because I am disgusted with
    the hypocrisy of the west; additionally there is hope
    that many may liberate themselves from their silence,
    to request the originator of the discernible danger
    to abstain from force
    and also insist,
    that unhindered and permanent control
    of the Israeli capability
    and the Iranian nuclear installations
    through an international authority
    shall be allowed by both countries governments.

    Only this way can all, the Israelis and the Palestinians,
    even more, all people who live in the delusion occupied region
    near by near as enemies and in the end even us,
    be helped.

    • Justice Please on April 5, 2012, 5:27 am

      lysias, I thought of mentioning Grass, too.

      To our non-German fellow commentators:

      After Grass, a respected Nobel Laureate, published this poem critical of Israel and breaking taboos like Israeli nuclear weapons, the Israel Lobby in Germany went on a libeling spree against him. The Zentralrat der Juden, originally intended to give German Jewry a unified voice, attacked Grass and smeared him essentially as an “anti-Semite”. Even more appaling, Israels ambassador to Germany answered Grass by stating “it’s normal for Europeans to accuse Jews of ritual murder around Easter”. That’s pretty serious, libeling the population you are intended to represent your country to.

      Of course, the political and media establishment does not come out in support for Grass’ statements. They don’t talk about his peace plan for the Middle East, entailing a nuclear free zone including Israel. They all fear the wrath of the Lobby.

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