The following essay was written shortly after the dawn of the 25 January uprising in Egypt:
Not a single regime in the entire world is immune to collapse when the right time comes. However, as history teaches us, the regime won’t collapse by itself. The Arab rebellions are being created by the social movement — by the people — in all its currents and forces that seek change; in other words, by the great majority of the peoples in revolt.
But the Arab peoples and their rebellions are providing the world with new history lessons regarding how to make a revolution in our globalized era — how immense masses of humans can mobilize to become bigger and greater at an unprecedented rate. The Arab rebellions, though, do work according to the book: they are taking place at a moment in which the oppressed cannot continue to bear the oppression, while the oppressive regime cannot continue employing its oppressive instruments. For in a dictatorship, everything goes well until the last 15 minutes.
During these months we are observing how a ruling, oppressive and tyrannical Arab regime collapses, how the people can create a moment in which the military institution, as in the case of Tunisia and Egypt, has no choice but to let go of the head of the regime to avoid a confrontation with the people. The people have become the legitimate ruler, reaching key positions within the regime itself and occupying a central role in the market, media and the religious and judicial authorities.
As tyranny and oppression intensify — along with the abuse of rights and human and national dignity — the growing sense of humiliation is transformed into an accelerating power that drives the people against the regime, collapsing all of its basic tenants and creating a moment of transformation.
It is hard to believe that the rebellions in Tunisia and Egypt were prepared for by a specific party or body; rather they appear as events that occurred by themselves. The manner in which the Internet, especially Facebook and Twitter, were used by the young generations in Egypt and Tunisia is clear, for it united not only the revolutionary spirit of the people in the respective countries, but that of the Arab people as a whole wherever they are. While the recent period in the Arab world was characterized by the breaking up of this world into small countries, factions and sects, we are now entering a period of reconstruction of the Arab nation on the principals of pluralism and democracy.
I am proud to declare that I do wish to be present at the freedom squares all across the Arab world. This is not a personal note, but a collective one. Each and every one of us wishes to be in the freedom squares of the Arab world, especially in Cairo’s Midan al-Tahrir, the Freedom Square, to be able to take an active part in the popular Arab struggle. For us here in Palestine, where we can follow the rebellions only through television sets and the Internet due to the imposed, irrational borders, these rebellions are not happening in foreign lands. These rebellions are for us, for our struggle, and for the Palestinian inalienable rights that are not separate of those of all Arabs. Not only has our struggle now had a new meaning — charged with the Arab dimension that has been marginalized in the past years — but also the entire Arab nation that is struggling for liberation.
The revolutionary scene in the Arab world is not complete without speaking of the Israeli side, which is facing an unprecedented defeat. For years, Israel’s strength stemmed not only from its military power, but from the weakness and permanence of the Arab world. The Camp David accords with Egypt, as well as the Oslo accords with the Palestine Liberation Organization, were only an expression of this weakness.
The mediator of these accords, the American administration, was seeking the creation of a new Middle East through Israel and the Mubarak regime, but the Egyptian revolution came to the rescue. The collapse of the Egyptian regime and others constitute a turning point in our region. At various times these regimes played the role of the executioner, and at other times, the bystander, of North American schemes. The impotence of these regimes in face of the peoples’ popular force proved that no regime can last while it is built on historic injustice, occupation and ethnic cleansing. The force of the last of apartheid and colonization regimes will not overcome the will of the Palestinian and Arab peoples.
For us Palestinians, the power balance has now been transformed from a conflict between militaries to that between an aggressive, racist and military regime and the will of the people. The new regimes now bear new responsibilities — ones that the counterrevolution, aided by North American imperialism, will attempt to disrupt. However, the revolution can be protected by the peoples’ awareness of its power, sovereignty and legitimacy that are to be granted to the desired form of governance.
Our Palestinian people are in constant rebellion against the Zionist enterprise in our region since 1948. We never had the pleasure of not being under the spotlight, and of living a life without confrontation. We have employed all forms of resistance, which is our right and obligation, in order to achieve our inalienable rights: the refugees’ right of return, ending the occupation, the liberation of our prisoners and our right for self-determination.
On 30 March, our people inside the Green Line — Israel’s armistice line with the occupied West Bank — celebrated Land Day, which since 1976 continues to inspire us, the Arab peoples and all freedom fighters in the world to know that popular resistance, the expression of peoples’ will, can confront any regime. The Arab rebellions make us stronger as we continue to walk the long road towards liberation.
Ameer Makhoul is a Palestinian civil society leader and political prisoner at Gilboa Prison.