Solidarity work goes on

Fifth Report by the Sumud delegation
Sumud delegates met a Hamas leader, improved the film work, visited the Ghassan-Kanafani-school and discuss the strategies of resistance with a PFLP leader.
Liberated Beaufort Castle in South Lebanon

Meeting Hamas

Thursday evening, July 29, one part of the delegation met the Hamas leader of Beirut and Saida, Abu Achmad Alfatel while the others remained in Beirut to visit Al Akhbar Newspaper. Abu Achmad Alfatel explained the delicate situation of the Palestinian people in Gaza to the participants. Since the elections in 2006, political conditions have tightened through the extended embargo and the general isolation from the rest of the world, which makes daily life very difficult. It seems to him that the western governments were ready to accept the elections, but not the unexpected result - this gives a clear idea of western perception of democracy. Due to the 2009 war in Gaza 70% of the region is destroyed, there exist hardly any infrastructure: ‘We live like in stone age’, he said. But still people keep their resistance, not willing to give up their main goal to liberate Palestine from Israeli Occupation. Regardless of all the problems they have to face everyday, Abu Achmad Alfatel considers the political situation of the Westbank to be worse than that in Gaza for the don’t only have to suffer from the Israeli occupation but, according to him, also from the occupation of the Palestinian authority. From his point of view the Fatah administration are American puppets. Since the Fatah ceased to be part of the resistance movement there is a great gap between them. He pointed out that Hamas are opened to the whole world, regardless of ideological differences, as long as they support their main cause, the resistance against Israeli occupation. He described the relation to the PFLP as good and cooperative, standing on the same side, i.e. opposing the Palestinian authority.

Everyday life in the Camp gets harder

Saturday was the day when the delegation had to face unexpected problems. First of all one of the participants became sick and was taken to the hospital in the camp. Due to that incident we had the unexpected possibility to get to know the health system through our own experience additionally to the interviews for the documentary film. Luckily, the participant recovered after spending one night in hospital.

Furthermore two of the participants could not enter the camp for half of the day due to some unknown problems at the checkpoint. There might be a connection between the tightening of the political situation in Lebanon (following the Special Tribunale for Lebanon, a UN-backed body to investigate the assassination of prime minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005) and the increase of the controls at the checkpoint by the Lebanese army. In the evening, there was a football match between the Sumud delegation and the boys from the camp, where the Palestinian boys succeeded curtly. Later on the delegation celebrated a birthday at the beach and allowed themselves some relaxing moments.

Improving the film work

SUMUD and Nashet – at Palestinian border

On Sunday the European delegation made the biggest improvement for their documentary. They managed to make the two major interviews with the main teenagers, concerning their life in the refugee camp and everything which is connected with the difficult surrounding. These interviews will form the red line of the documentary, all other elements to be shown will be connected with the main issues they pointed out. Besides that another group started to collect single moments of the film for a kind of summary of the impressions they made in the camp. Besides the work for the film, the participants started to plan the final presentation of the teenager-shortfilms, which is supposed to include a celebration where the media and all political fractions of the camp are expected to participate. An organizing group for that event was selected and an invitation card was designed.

In the afternoon a meeting of all participants was held in order to summarize the past week. This meeting was important to get a feedback and also to improve the organization of twenty people living together in a very decreased area. Luckily existing problems could be discussed and solved.

Visiting the Ghassan-Kanafani foundation
SUMUD – Ghassan Kanafani school

On Monday some of the participants went to see the Ghassan-Kanafani-school. Kanafani was a legendary Palestinian writer, poet and political activist with the PFLP, who was killed by a Mossad car bomb in 1972. After his death, his wife Anna Kanafani continued his cultural work by raising a foundation. The school is part of this foundation. It includes a kindergarden, a primary school and a school for handicapped children and is opened to both Lebanese and Palestinian children. The school’s conditions are very good, they have a very high level of infrastructure and the teachers seem to put lots of effort to support the children through artistic and cultural projects. For the delegation this school was an interesting project because the spirit of a resisting Palestinian writer, who once was a teacher himself and always stressed the importance of improving the situation for the next generation of Palestinian, is carried on through this school.

Meanwhile the teenager film workshop under the leadership of Arab Lotfi continued. After some days of randomly experimenting with the camera it seems like the teenagers had now come up with their own precise ideas of what they wanted to express through the camera. Also the work with the documentary by the European delegation enhanced and has now coming to an end. The big progress of the documentary is especially due to one very active participant, who has worked as a cameraman and luckily could share his knowledge with the rest of the delegation.

Discussing strategies of resistance

In the evening the delegation was invited for a meeting to the PFLP headquarter. The meeting turned into a very interesting interactive and vividly discussion. The first topic was the concept proclaimed by the PFLP leader Abu Basel of a secular, democratic state, where all of the inhabitants can individually live their religion. One of the participants argued that the term ‘secular’ automatically cuts out the islamistic movement, a movement which is, according to the participant, too important to be ignored. Just like Leila Khaled, the PFLP leader pointed out that until a Palestinian state has been achieved, they will work together with any kind of resistance movement, and as soon as they really have achieved their goal of a Palestinian state, it will be the people itself who will have to decide what kind of state that should be. Nevertheless, believing in their own idea of a further Palestinian solution, again like Khaled, he actually regarded the islamic movement almost as dangerous as the zionist one.

This statement was interesting for the delegation, since they had also discussed this issue with islamistic fractions, such as Hamas or Islamic Jihad. Those movements in contrary seemed to have a less separatist idea of resistance, always concentrating on the common goals they have with the left, regardless of ideological differences. Even though the islamic movements have a strong base of supporters they seem to be much more willing to work together to unite the Palestinian resistance movement.

Later on one of the European participants pointed out that he sees a great danger in linking the Nakba (the banishment of the Palestinian people from their homeland as well as further oppression by Israel) and the general situation of the Palestinian people with the Holocaust, since, according to his point of view, making an inadequate comparison of these different issues only weakens the position of the Palestinian people in the world and supports the western islamophobia. Abu Basel agreed on most of his arguments but added the difficulty of Palestinian people to not compare the Holocaust with their own Nakba since the Holocaust is always being used by Israel and the western world as legitimation for the oppression of the Palestinians.

The third issued to be discussed were the different ideas of struggle, either civilian or armed. While one of the participants argued that there has got to be an end of the vicious circle of violence and counter violence, other participants disagreed on that, saying that being confronted with such an overwhelming, devastating enemy as Isreal you can only succeed by reverting to armed struggle in order to actually reach some state of peace somewhen.