Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Thou doth not protest enough

There was a protest held today by residents of Nahr el-Bared to raise awareness about the court decision ordering the stoppage of the backfilling (essentially, the halting of reconstruction) for two months.

What was originally supposed to include a march, ended up being a gathering beside the road near the UN compound. In all honesty, it was a pretty pathetic protest. There are 27,000 odd residents of NBC. There would have been 400 people there if they were lucky. Yes, there were people with placards, there was a sound system hooked up with people making speeches. But there was no passion, no anger.

A few young guys approached me after I took a photo of this sign -

the only sign in English - and they asked me if I spoke English. I gave them a funny look and said that of course I spoke English. Only one of them could, and he told me how the English language lessons they received were terrible. I assured him that his English was quite good, and far superior to the few words of Arabic I've picked up so far. Yassmin joined us and translated what the other guys were saying. I asked why there were so few people here. They told us that the people in the camp are too disappointed with the situation, that they are somewhat resigned to nothing ever happening.

That's what gets to me. I mean, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Palestinian refugees have been here for 60 years, the fact that anyone has hope that there'll be a solution is inspiring. But to have been homeless as well as stateless for the past 2 years, and to have the courts hand down a decision to halt the process even further, well isn't that something to protest about? Isn't that something to be angry about?

Then again, when they've been living in a country where the national population doesn't appreciate their existence, you can understand why they might be unwilling to take a stand. Now of course there are exceptions to this, one of the driving forces behind the protest today was a Lebanese woman. But the overwhelming feeling against the Palestinians in this country is obvious that someone had to scratch this into the boom gate that leads into the UN compound.

It's the first line that's the kicker - where are they supposed to "go home" to??

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