News / Middle East

    Revolt in Egypt Inspires Palestinians

    A Palestinian protester holds a shoe as others wave Palestinian and Egyptian flags during a demonstration calling for the removal of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Gaza City, Feb 3, 2011
    A Palestinian protester holds a shoe as others wave Palestinian and Egyptian flags during a demonstration calling for the removal of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Gaza City, Feb 3, 2011
    Meredith Buel

    The massive demonstrations and political upheaval in Egypt are being hailed as a new Arab awakening by Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.  Middle East analysts say the turmoil could empower a new and younger generation of Palestinian leaders seeking both personal dignity and a more democratic future.

    As Arab music fills the air just after nightfall on East Jerusalem's bustling and colorful streets, the chief topics of conversation among Palestinians here are the astonishing developments in Egypt.

    Close watch

    The Egyptian revolt against President Hosni Mubarak's three decades in power and his decision not to seek re-election are both fascinating and stunning to many here in East Jerusalem.

    "Palestinians are glued to the TV and following the news every minute," said Mahdi Abdul Hadi, chairman of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs in East Jerusalem.  

    Hadi is considered a leading political analyst in the region.  He says the uprising of young Arabs seeking a better life and more democratic future represents a generational change in the Middle East.

    "This wave is there and nobody can have a blueprint where it will lead us," added Hadi.  "Because it is not traditional.  It is not classic.  It is not any more the thinking of the elites and the business.  These young people, they want their dignity.  Maybe this is a new way of portraying democracy."

    Mubarak

    Many Palestinians consider President Mubarak an ally for his role in peace talks with Israel, and for seeking reconciliation among rival Palestinian factions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

    Dimitri Diliani is a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council in east Jerusalem.  He says some Palestinians have mixed feelings about the uprising in Egypt.

    "We respect the people's opinions and concerns and their needs, but at the same time we appreciate President Mubarak's position on the peace process, his support for the peace process for many years," said Diliani.

    Better future

    Mahmoud Muna, 28, is a Palestinian who works in his family's bookshop in East Jerusalem. He hopes the winds of change in the Arab world will lead to a better future for people across the region.

    "I guess the word is cautiously positive, really, cautiously excited about what is happening," said Muna.  "We are hoping that this will develop into a Middle East revamp.  A Middle East reshaping of the Middle East to get proper democracy around the Middle East countries and Palestine included."

    In the West Bank, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has ordered his ministers and other government officials not to talk publicly about the situation in Egypt.

    Anger toward Israel

    Dimitri Diliani of the Fatah Revolutionary Council says Palestinians in the West Bank live better than many in poorer Arab countries and focus their anger more on the Israeli occupation than the Palestinian leadership.

    "It is clear that the Palestinians in the West Bank, we do have a lower unemployment rate than other countries [and] better economic growth," added Diliani.  "But at the same time, the obstacle to our development has been the occupation and the state of Israel, and towards that we do have almost daily uprisings and demonstrations."

    Cause and effect

    Diliani says some are concerned that if a transformation in the political leadership in Egypt comes too quickly, it could have a harmful impact on efforts to negotiate peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

    "If change in Egypt took its time, that means the Egyptians can preserve the political discourse regarding the peace process, and therefore, maybe this would help with the peace process rather than affect it negatively," added Diliani.  "So Egypt plays a huge role in the peace process and a huge role in influencing Arab countries.  It is very important to be careful how to deal with Egypt."

    Social networking

    Back on the streets of East Jerusalem young people are using social networks to keep up with and discuss the rapidly changing events in Egypt.  Mariam Ikermawi, 33, is a Palestinian activist who is director of the Jerusalem Center for Women.

    "Oh my God, it is happening.  Oh my God, Egypt has actually awakened," said Ikermawi.  "And it has awakened like the youth has awakened… Using technology, using Facebook, using the Internet, using Twitter, this makes me very proud."

    Analyst Mahdi Abdul Hadi says the uprising in Egypt is inspiring a growing confidence among young people to publicly express themselves after years of being too afraid to speak their minds.

    "The positive thing is the awakening," said Hadi.  "The positive thing is that people come to know the truth.  The most important thing, the culture of fear is dead.  Nobody is afraid of spelling [out] his opinion, his position, and his belief, and everybody is accepting to pay the price for that, especially the young generation."

    Abdul Hadi says he believes the rebellion against autocratic rule will open a new chapter of Palestinian unity and help pave the way for a fresh generation of young Arab leaders.

     

    NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
    and discuss them on our Facebook page.

    You May Like

    How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Probe Targeting China's Statistic Head Sparks Concern

    Economists now asking what prompted government to launch an investigation only months after Wang Baoan had been vetted for crucial job

    HRW: Both Sides in Ukraine Conflict Targeted, Used Schools

    Rights group documents how both sides in Ukraine conflict carried out attacks on schools and used them for military purposes

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.