Syria: We Stand Against Occupation

I am excited to join Global Voices Online Middle East and North Africa team and will be happy to cover the Syrian blogsphere alongside Yazan Badran. GVO is one of my favorite websites and I am happy to be part of its Global Voices Advocacy and Lingua Arabic projects as well. I hope my posts would be fairly representative to both of the Syrian bloggers and to their readers.

Yaman Salahi, an undergrad student of UC Berkeley and an active member of Students for Justice in Palestine club there, has posted a series of reactions to the club's die-in protest that took place on campus few days ago in solidarity with the 116 Palestinians killed by the Israeli army. You can view pictures of the die-in protest on Isabel's Flickr account.

The Daily Californian's covered the die-in protest publishing this photo and these words:


Yaman criticized the newspaper's tagging of the protest as “stand[ing] against conflict” and addressed the newspaper as follows:

Actually, Daily Cal, yesterday [3rd of March] students participated in a die-in in solidarity with the 116 Palestinians that the Israeli army killed over the weekend in Gaza. We did not stand against “conflict,” but the Israeli occupation. Can you say those words, or is that a little too informative?

One of the commentators disapproved of Yaman's use of the word ‘occupation’ and thus accused him of being “anti-semetic.”

Allison, another commentator, responded to this accusation as follows:

Calling Yaman an anti-Semite and assuming he finds Haifa and Tel Aviv to be occupied is really low. There is nothing in what he has written that would suggest those were the things he was thinking or intending. If so he would have been involved in a great big “free occupied haifa and tel aviv” demonstration where he would announce himself as a Jew-hater. The reality is that the demonstration was to recognize the loss of life that has occurred due to the excessive, unequal use of force by Israel, on Palestinians. You only jump to those conclusions as an attempt to discredit him and show him to have violent intentions. Those are your words, not his, he is talking about a government sanctioned military occupation over a civilian population, not irrationally hating or wishing harm to Jews.

116 people died in the past few days and that pains us; we lay on the ground to grieve, we lay on the ground out of compassion for human life. None of which is anti-semetic.

In another post, Yaman writes about a counter-protest to the die-in protest held by HaTikva: Students for Israel. He notes:

Their counter-protest consisted of a sign displayed ahead of our protest that read, “Victims of Palestinian Terror,” meant to confuse passers-by as to the purpose of our action.

Yaman expresses his worries of the students group's rhetoric when they ignore the civilian deaths of the Palestinian side, categorizing all of the dead under “terrorists”:

According to B’tselem on March 3 (before the death toll rose by another dozen), over half of those killed by the Israeli military in Gaza were civilians. According to Maan News, at least 1/3rd were children. On the other hand, according to Tikvah …Israel “eliminated about 110 terrorists.”

Tikvah’s message is clear: all the Palestinians killed by the Israeli military, be they children, be they unarmed civilians, are terrorists. Further, Tikvah has dehumanized Palestinians to the extent that they do not even die. They are not killed or murdered; they are not even casualties. Like pests, they are “eliminated.”

Finally, Yaman concluded his post by asserting that the real issue is not whose lives are more valuable in both sides’ deaths, but stopping the violence is. He explains:

To stop the violence, step back from it. Recognize the legitimate grievances of all people in Israel and Palestine. The United States will not solve this issue; there will be no impartial or neutral arbitrator or judge who will issue a verdict that all people will follow. Cheer-leading squads for Israel like Tikvah will do nothing that can even change the status quo, let alone construct a path towards resolution and reconciliation. It is up to us to escape the suffocating influence of state narratives and to create opportunities and possibilities for the future with our own hands.


  • “We did not stand against conflict.”
    Then, you have no valid objection to the recent results of that conflict. 116 Palestinians died and so did 8 Jewish seminary students.
    124 human beings are dead. They no longer care if they are called terrorists or occupiers.
    Some of the demonstrators may have been in the USA too long. With George Bush they say the ends justify the means.

  • I will leave this one for you to translate on Arabic Lingua ;)

  • Do you have the link to the Hatikva claim that “Israel Eliminated about 110 terrorists”? It is made very clear in Israeli media that only half of the killed were Hamas members, while over half were civilians. This is a never ending cycle that feeds itself. But I strongly believe that the difference is in intent.

    Israeli army targets Hamas which intertwines within the Gazan civilian population. Many believe that this is their only way to get international voices – by having civilians killed in Gaza. The absolute truth is that Israelis do not celebrate the civilians killed in Gaza, however, many in Gaza celebrate civilian Israeli death by Palestinian bombers.

    However, it IS a war; there is no right or wrong and both sides come out losers. But I wonder how trust can be built when, especially now, Israelis cannot trust even an Arab from East Jerusalem to enter its territory? How can steps towards peace be taken when the supported ruling party in Gaza (Hamas) does not believe in Israel’s right to exist?

  • Israelis and Arabs forget we have common enemies. Here is a possible scenario. Four nuclear devices explode in the four major Israeli cities.
    The Israelis launch 250 fighter/bombers to nuke 500 population centers in the Arab World.
    Years later the few survivors may learn it was a false flags CIA op, or maybe a Russian ploy to obtain oilfields.
    Continued turmoil plays into the hands of our enemies.

  • The sign “Victims of Palestinian terror” was meant to send a message that the civilian deaths in Gaza were caused by Hamas, not Israel. That was the point. It wasn’t about comparing Israeli deaths to Palestinian deaths. The point is that the cause of all these deaths is terrorism.

    All of the civilian deaths in Gaza recently were caused either directly by Hamas gunfire or Hamas’ use of human shields.

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.