A few days ago a blogging initiative started under the theme:”For you, oh praying city, we blog.” It is a blogging campaign for Jerusalem, started by bloggers from Gaza. Many Palestinians and Arabs joined. The campaign goal was blogging and tweeting about Jerusalem till the 31st of January. This is not the first online campaign of its kind initiated by Palestinians. Since the beginning of the Arab Spring role of Social Media was heavily debated.In the Palestinian context, it’s very clear that there is an increasing tendency to use Social Media tools to deliver the Palestinian people’s message to the world. It’s worth nothing that in Gaza, these tools were effectively used by the youth before the Arab Spring, the siege on Gaza forced youth to utilize everything available to communicate with the rest of the world.
Social Media tools are a very important media between Palestinians at homeland, in the refugee camps as well as in diaspora to help them break all the boundaries, barriers and sieges. Communication became nearly daily. A camp resident can communicate with someone in Ramallah, with a Gazan, and even between someone from Jerusalem and an American Palestinian.
For example, recently, Palestinian bloggers worldwide issued several joint statements. One of them declared their refusal of the Muslim Brotherhood’s announcement of the “Saving Aqsa” Friday, while Tahrir revolutionaries announced it as a Friday to take down the military rule, after the brutal repression they faced from the army. The bloggers wrote in their statement: “We, a group of Palestinian youth, refuse to have Aqsa and Palestine’s names used against the great Egyptian revolution.” They ended the statement saying: “Palestine is stronger with Egypt freedom and nobility.” The statement became very popular between bloggers and was also picked up by Egyptian media. They also issued a statement in solidarity with the Syrian blogger Razan Ghazzawi and all the Syrian revolution detainees.
To mark the 24th anniversary of the first Intifada, bloggers launched a campaign inviting all Palestinian bloggers to dedicate a post in the 19th of January about stories or interviews with people who witnessed the first Intifada, or publishing related articles, photos or videos. The bloggers assured in their statement that the Intifada memory is a suitable moment to reassure “our faith in the Palestinian resistance as a basic part of our struggle for freedom and to earn the non-negotiable rights of the Palestinian people, and to continue struggling till the realization of freedom and the right of return.”
Many online activists organized campaigns that are focusing on a certain period, aiming at raising awareness and knowledge to those who follow the occupation practices. During the detainees’ hunger strike, young activists shared their solidarity on blogs, Facebook and Twitter. They also announced a one-day hunger strike in their support. Everyone participating was asked to announce that on social networks in the following format: “My name is …., today 12.10.11 I’m on hunger strike supporting the Palestinian detainees.” Following that, many Arabs and foreigners supported the idea and joined in. After the martyrdom of Mustafa Tamimi during the weekly demonstration in Nabi Saleh village, after an Israeli soldier shot a tear gas bomb in his face from just a few meters, social media activists organized a campaign where they blogged and tweeted under the hashtag #Israelkills to spotlight occupation crimes against Palestinians.
A lot from those youth see that activism online is not a substitute of activism offline, but compliments it since some are involved in civil resistance in the Palestinian villages like Al-Walaja, Al-Khalil, and others. Some people also arrange volunteering days for marches and different activities.
Considering the fact the youth enthusiasm online is no less than their colleagues offline, the past year witnessed many events and youth initiatives raising the peaceful resistance value. All this was done in ways which were creative and different than before. So we see the freedom waves and freedom riders, we see a march of cars that wanted to drive through the settlement streets protesting the apartheid regime. The march was stopped by the occupation army. Not to mention the “Welcome in Palestine” campaign in Ben Gurion Airport where visitors state clearly they have come to Palestine. They also organized the return marches commemorating the Nakba and the Naksa, along with volunteering days and street art activities. Two weeks ago, some special activity for an anonymous group was noticed, writing political slogans on Jerusalem walls, especially in Jewish dominated neighborhoods since 1948. This group mentioned in their statement that “This is our message to our occupiers and to our people in Palestine and in diaspora, we are telling them that we are here, our voice is still loud and we will continue to resist.”
These activities contribute to reviving Palestine. Many are engaged in photographing what is happening in real time, by live steaming or live blogging or via Facebook and Twitter, etc. This way the occupation is in a losing battle. Those who follow social networks know that the Israeli propaganda is not yet able to neutralize or fight the social media “army” who support the Palestinian cause.
The Palestinian Social Media activity contributes to telling the world the Israeli practices against the Palestinian people, thus supporting BDS as well as the daily communication between Palestinians wherever they are, integrating their efforts on their networks and coordinating their campaigns and joint activities offline.
These youth only agree to have big goals achieved, and they are not content with the frustration their people suffer from. Everyday they come up with a new idea and it is very difficult to break them. These youth prove edaily that resistance is not only via weapons, and that Israel didn’t succeed in frustrating them.