Max Blumenthal writes:
Last week, I interviewed Rami Zurayk, an agronomist at the American University of Beirut and Palestinian refugee rights activist, about the planning of the May 15 and June 5 demonstrations in Lebanon. Zurayk described to me a meeting that took place in Beirut before the Fatah-Hamas unity deal took where the May 15 movement planned its strategy. All Palestinian factions were represented, however, each leader received only a single vote on the motions being deliberated. “It was unbelievable to see the Hamas guy who represents 100,000 people have the same power as an independent person from the camps,” Zurayk told me. “In this setting, the lines began to blur and you could not tell who was from what faction any more. In the past, it was impossible to get people from the camps to agree on rallying under one flag and one symbol. But in this meeting everything changed.”
Zurayk said the refugees and their Lebanese allies (the involvement of Lebanese youth and civil society also reflected a new trend) resolved to carry out a mode of resistance that was “pacifistic in nature.” “Like the demonstrations in Tahrir Square and throughout Tunisia, the [May 15] demonstrators were audacious, tenacious and most of all, repetitive,” he explained. “Repetition is why Tahrir worked — you put your body on the line against repression. So that became our modality.” Zurayk described scenes he witnessed of refugee youth rushing the Israeli controlled frontier at Maroun al-Ras with nothing but Palestinian flags in their hands, and of the Israeli response: soldiers shot the youth dead, killing one almost every five minutes.
After an international outcry, Israel blamed the Syrian regime and Iran for the demonstrations at the frontiers (it had little to say about the killings it committed in Maroun al Ras, Lebanon, however). I asked Zurayk about the Israeli claim. He remarked, “No amount of Syrian money can make people run to a border knowing they will be shot at. If the Syrians are being clever, that is their consideration. But do you really think Palestinians need Syrians to make them want to return to Palestine? They are living in camps with sewage running openly, with no jobs and no opportunities.”