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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs