How do you define a protest? In the past three weeks I think the word itself has found new manifestations in Jordan. Each one catered to an audience and each one catered to a need. Some chose to go out in to the streets and shout, some chose to light a candle at a vigil, some helped pack donations, some launched an “aid market” to raise money, some held an “aid concert” to raise money, some started a boycott campaign. In a short time span, those manifestations have continued to interest me and I continue to wonder, what’s next?
Tonight, local radio station, Spin Jordan 94.1, is airing a radio-documentary called Gaza Dying, on the Gaza crisis and the reactions of various artists. It’ll be live at 6pm and it will lean towards the emerging pop-culture of Palestinian resistance, which is will hopefully play an important role in years to come, taking a lesson right out of the Zionist playbook and the art of remembrance.
Speaking of, another local artist made short documentaries that are all on YouTube now, and will probably be sent to important political figures including Obama.
[And just a quick digression from the larger message here, but it has been truly amazing the extent to which the Internet and technology has been used to form these events, spread the message and mobilize people. From Facebook, to the email forwards, to blogs, to websites, to WatWet and Ikbis, to SMS messages, etc.]
Photo Credit: 7iber
Now I can only speak for myself, but to me these are all forms of protest. We have a classical definition of the word, and in this region it’s usually accompanied with some flag-burning images, but in truth, there are different methods of protest. Some are more effective than others, and some are more helpful than others. But the term and the way it’s defined is, from my point of view, akin to the way Muslims define Jihad. In the west it has been labeled strictly in a militant definition. In truth, Islam preaches various forms of jihad, with the inner-jihad – the battle with one’s own demons – ranking high. And even that word, “jihad”, has been thrown around lately over here as Jordanian Muslims begin to realize that whatever form of protest they choose, that is their form of jihad.
At protests, aid concerts, vigils, aid markets, and even donation campaigns, there is a mix of demographics – a mix of people. Different origins, including Palestinian, Jordanian, Armenian, Carcassian, American, British and even Belgian.
From west Amman to east Amman, to outside Amman. From rich to not-so rich. From young to old. At street protests I’ve seen families with their kids wandering between the riot police.
The messages have been in Arabic and in English, no matter where the “protest” was being held, which makes me think about the idea of branding that message even more.
All of this is incredibly grassroots. You can’t put your finger on a single entity and say: they’re the ones leading this. It is not based on a movement led by the socialists or the Islamists or the associations and unions. It is a social movement. People, like water on concrete, searching for every crack and crevice, every niche they fit in to, every platform they can get their hands on, to demonstrate their support.
And everyone seems to find their thing; everyone seems to eventually find their voice, and the perfect microphone to amplify it.
There is a collusion of ideas and the loner the crisis lasted the more those ideas came to fruition.
Suffice to say, it has been interesting to see all those manifestations move on a grassroots level. No one is really leading them, and most have yielded a great deal of success in their own unique way. We may not agree with all the outlets, but they are nevertheless, an outlet – at least for one group of people.
All together, they created some form of revival – a new-found spirit for an old cause. And I’m wondering if no ceasefire had been declared, and the crisis had continued to worsen, what other forms of protests would have emerged.
What’s even more interesting, is that all of this, has been ironically fueled directly by Israel.
“Whatâ€™s even more interesting, is that all of this, has been ironically fueled directly by Israel. ”
Nothing new about that. The hatred towards Israel is the only thing that Arabs have in common.
Can you see any other (worthy) cause that will stimulate such passion?
I don’t think so.
Please correct me if I’m wrong.
Passionate hatreds can give meaning and purpose to an empty life. These people haunted by the purposelessness of their lives try to find a new content not only by dedicating themselves to a holy cause but also by nursing a fanatical grievance. A mass movement offers them unlimited opportunies for battle.
well since you seem to know fairly little about the Arab world, we do have a lot in common, but yes I agree with you, nothing seems to bring us together more than Israel’s brutality on a common brother.
Just like the holocaust I suppose?
In truth, it is less about being haunted by the “purposelessness” of our lives and more about a constant struggle for justice – the attempt at making right out of one of the biggest wrongs in the past century.
If that’s not the definition of a cause, then I don’t know what is.
In truth, it is less about being haunted by the â€œpurposelessnessâ€ of our lives and more about a constant struggle for justice – the attempt at making right out of one of the biggest wrongs in the past century.
If that statement is true why don’t you start at your own backyard?
eradicate the wrongs in your own society.
Agains women, against non-muslims, poverty, ignorance …take your pick.
People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.
To claim that you “struggle for justice” is ludicrous, to say the least.
oh enough with these pathetic red herring arguments…they are incredibly archaic and really, no one is buying them anymore, which is why the Israeli propaganda machine doesn’t use them anymore. it’s like saying Israel has enough crime in its own backyard, why is it so concerned with hamas?
does the arab world have problems? yes, many. just like the rest of the world.
do those problems mean we should forget about the larger injustice in this region i.e. the Israeli occupation of Palestine?
and as for glass houses, israel all together, is one giant glass house.
now let’s all sit here and ponder for a moment the historical irony of an israeli-supporter using the biblical glass house metaphor.
Whats wrong with non-muslims arabs?
Pay a visit to any arab area in Palestine while you are there I assume, to see for yourself how muslim and christian arabs live together. Nablus in addition is a hometown to “Samiri” Sect of Judaism.
Any nation evolves over time and is trigerred by the troubles it faces, Israel was always the reason of a setback and will be the reason for revival, to move on and beyond.
i don’t know what it is about gaza, but everyone seems to be different. the ‘grassroot manifestations’ u describe, i guess, manifest a change within ourselves: a readiness to work; to actively pursue. i hope it lasts. we need it, not just for gaza, not just for palestine, but for us to reclaim a sense of purpose, a sense of accomplishment, and to use the word of the day, a sense of hope…
ps. i thought the youtube vidoes were fantastic! kudos to the artist!! will def be sharing the links. very inspiring. goes on to show what a creative idea can achieve.
Nas, as always a thoughful and interesting post. One thing that I hope is that the many forms of useful and non-violent protest discovered during this horrible time may continue. I would love to see a re-emergence of non-violent protest in support of the Palestinian people. After all, most of the successful resistance movements seem to use non-violnt methods to shame the aggressors, somehow I think maybe that’s called for here. I definitely hope to see folks keeping up momentum for building understanding, knowledge, and a whole new brand…
first of all, let me applaud your eloquence in dealing with idit. beautifully done.
“You canâ€™t put your finger on a single entity and say: theyâ€™re the ones leading this. It is not based on a movement led by the socialists or the Islamists or the associations and unions. It is a social movement. People, like water on concrete, searching for every crack and crevice, every niche they fit in to, every platform they can get their hands on, to demonstrate their support.”
this made me smile 🙂
thanks for seeing the silver lining in all of this and spreading that very, very important message.
Adversity’s never been so sweet.
of course everyone who takes the time to protest – in whatever way they decide to do so – deserves a thank you .. some might say what thank them for what, this is their duty not a favor .. but i would say that is speaking in ideals .. unfortunately the real world is far from ideal .. as for what is the best way to protest .. i mean when people in norway are holding candlelight vigils then i would think that people in jordan and the arab world in general should be doing a bit more .. or maybe its just me .. as for the aid campaigns they are definitely good but they are not enough on their own .. im sure you are familiar with the idea that the palestinian people need more than just your clothes and food so no need for me to elaborate on that one .. now some might say so what we should all go out and shout and clash with security and burn stuff in order for our protests to be legit .. no because lets take a look at what did those protests accomplish .. the answer is zip nada zilch nil big fat zero .. so actually the aid campaigns were more helpful .. so now people might say so what we shouldn’t protest if it’s all useless .. again no .. i think that in order for protests to be effective .. you need organization .. when protests are being done on an individual level then they will never work .. you need an organized effort between political parties and civil groups that extends well beyond the duration of the war if you want any chance of success .. i think right now there is a lot of anti-israel pro-resistance momentum and it would be a shame to let it slip away without trying to build on it ..
i will end my reply with a suggestion so its not all just criticism .. everyone boycott starbucks .. thats a start ..
and since the subject is protests .. i will mention something i brought up in one of your earlier posts about protests .. the protest scene from the play day3it tishreen .. it basically sums it everything up .. and its funny 😀
Good post and you dealt with Idit beautifully.
I have to say, I am always so impressed by how you introspectively contextualize all of the happenings here as threads in the fabric of the Jordanian mobilization I have been witness to… as someone who came from afar not so long ago, if I didn’t know any better I would think these elements have all been concientiously planned, waiting to be triggered – like well-trained humanitarian support reserves embodying multi-faceted ‘action’ at a moments notice.
Never have I seen such ‘productive protest’, such constructive resistance, and this is something I hope to relay to those who cannot see the collective triumphs of spirit and hope in the segragated images of ‘middle eastern’ horror from their couches back in Canada. The north american media paints with one brush and one color: they fail to shed light on the seedlings that have emerged with firm roots here… such an important avenue of aid access to the atrocities of Gaza.
And, on a more personal note, I want to thank you for explaining and introducing me to all the ways to perceive in Jordan… you have been a compass in trying to find my way in my naive, soley english experience of all things Jordanian.
P.S. You missed a few nationalities in amongst the mix… you got the belgian ‘ambassador of protest’ for sure, but we had a couple Canadians, a Ukranian, a Hungarian and a Nigerian all lend a hand and bear witness to the relentless generosity of Jordanian spirit…
i wrote a long comment and it never showed 🙁
mo…sorry man…it was caught in the spam thingie for awhile.
thanks for notifying me
While this nasty little battle is now over, the war is not. Momentum was built up in the last few weeks and this must not be allowed to go to waste. Gaza is still suffering, the West Bank is still under occupation and so is the Golan, Sheb3a and Jerusalem. Despite the lunches and the flowers, despite the stuttering words about a billion dollars, nothing has changed.
Food, clothes and money are needed to help Gaza. More importantly, we need to move to ensure that we make it clear to our gormless leaders that we will NOT allow this to happen again. The impotence they displayed so proudly in this 22 day massacre must not be forgotten.
We have to let them know that if they are unable or unwilling to lead, they must step aside in favor of those who can and want to take us forward. Enough is enough.
I noticed someone calling for a boycott of Starbucks.
Is that a serious proposal?