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

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid