Gaza's Youth Manifesto for Change and Stateless Youth
Three weeks ago, a group of Palestinian youth posted a manifesto on Facebook excoriating every internal and external political force at work in Gaza today. The manifesto begins:
Fuck Hamas. Fuck Israel. Fuck Fatah. Fuck UN. Fuck UNWRA. Fuck USA! We, the youth in Gaza, are so fed up with Israel, Hamas, the occupation, the violations of human rights and the indifference of the international community!
The whole thing is worth reading, as well as this follow up by the Observer. I was struck by certain parallels between the situation of Gazan youth and undocumented youth in the U.S.
There are many differences, of course. War does not touch the borders of the U.S., while Gazan youth have faced invasion and occupation. Gazan youth are not at risk of exile simply because of the passport they hold, as Dreamers are. But rather than engage in the dread oppression olympics, I'd like to draw out certain similarities between both groups.
Both groups are physically trapped, unable to travel beyond the borders which confine them. Both have been jailed by their own governments. Both sit beyond many of the benefits and protections of the purported democracies in which they live. Both face depression, suicide, and other social maladies that come from living life without a future.
Both have started to raise their voices. From the manifesto:
We are youth with heavy hearts. We carry in ourselves a heaviness so immense that it makes it difficult to us to enjoy the sunset. How to enjoy it when dark clouds paint the horizon and bleak memories run past our eyes every time we close them? We smile in order to hide the pain. We laugh in order to forget the war. We hope in order not to commit suicide here and now. During the war we got the unmistakable feeling that Israel wanted to erase us from the face of the earth. During the last years Hamas has been doing all they can to control our thoughts, behaviour and aspirations. We are a generation of young people used to face missiles, carrying what seems to be a impossible mission of living a normal and healthy life, and only barely tolerated by a massive organization that has spread in our society as a malicious cancer disease, causing mayhem and effectively killing all living cells, thoughts and dreams on its way as well as paralyzing people with its terror regime. Not to mention the prison we live in, a prison sustained by a so-called democratic country.
Both Gazan youth and Dreamers have this in common: their governments have failed them. The whole system of international governance has failed them. And they are not the only such groups of which this is true. Liberian youth, Guatemalan youth, Sudanese youth, Burmese youth, North Korean youth, Haitian youth, Roma youth--everyone with any power has failed them and continues to fail them. The anger and frustration that burns from the Gazan youth manifesto could be expressed by millions of other youth enduring an existence of injustice.
We are afraid of living, because every single step we take has to be considered and well-thought, there are limitations everywhere, we cannot move as we want, say what we want, do what we want, sometimes we even cant think what we want because the occupation has occupied our brains and hearts so terrible that it hurts and it makes us want to shed endless tears of frustration and rage!
We do not want to hate, we do not want to feel all of this feelings, we do not want to be victims anymore. ENOUGH!
Will we let this continue, or will we work together to stop this massive collective failure? It's not just the U.S. immigration system that is broken, it's not only Gaza that has been abandoned, the damage extends far beyond U.S. and Gazan borders.