Gaza Youth Break Out is a student Resistance which emerged out of the Social Networking sithe Facebook. To date there are 18,000 members. An article published in the Observer on the 2nd of January of this year brought international publicity to this resistance force.
An extract from an Aljazeera article gives an insight into the emergence of GYBO:
“What prompted the group behind the Gaza youth manifesto to take up their pens, was that Hamas officials attacked a youth centre, the Sharek Youth Forum, where young people regularly gathered creatively to vent frustration at the occupation.”
“As a space outside of Hamas's ideological and political control, Sharek constituted a challenge to its authority and its strategies of resistance, to what the Gazan youth describe as the "bearded guys walking around with their guns abusing their power, beating up or incarcerating young people demonstrating for what they believe in..."
Here is their Manifesto:
"Fuck Hamas. Fuck Israel. Fuck Fatah. Fuck UN. Fuck UNWRA. Fuck USA! We, the youth in Gaza, are so fed up with Israel, Hamas, the occupation, the violations of human rights and the indifference of the international community!
"We want to scream and break this wall of silence, injustice and indifference like the Israeli F16s breaking the wall of sound; scream with all the power in our souls in order to release this immense frustration that consumes us because of this fucking situation we live in...
"We are sick of being caught in this political struggle; sick of coal-dark nights with airplanes circling above our homes; sick of innocent farmers getting shot in the buffer zone because they are taking care of their lands; sick of bearded guys walking around with their guns abusing their power, beating up or incarcerating young people demonstrating for what they believe in; sick of the wall of shame that separates us from the rest of our country and keeps us imprisoned in a stamp-sized piece of land; sick of being portrayed as terrorists, home-made fanatics with explosives in our pockets and evil in our eyes; sick of the indifference we meet from the international community, the so-called experts in expressing concerns and drafting resolutions but cowards in enforcing anything they agree on; we are sick and tired of living a shitty life, being kept in jail by Israel, beaten up by Hamas and completely ignored by the rest of the world.
"There is a revolution growing inside of us, an immense dissatisfaction and frustration that will destroy us unless we find a way of canalising this energy into something that can challenge the status quo and give us some kind of hope.
"We barely survived the Operation Cast Lead, where Israel very effectively bombed the shit out of us, destroying thousands of homes and even more lives and dreams. During the war we got the unmistakable feeling that Israel wanted to erase us from the face of the Earth. During the last years, Hamas has been doing all they can to control our thoughts, behaviour and aspirations. Here in Gaza we are scared of being incarcerated, interrogated, hit, tortured, bombed, killed. We cannot move as we want, say what we want, do what we want.
"ENOUGH! Enough pain, enough tears, enough suffering, enough control, limitations, unjust justifications, terror, torture, excuses, bombings, sleepless nights, dead civilians, black memories, bleak future, heart-aching present, disturbed politics, fanatic politicians, religious bullshit, enough incarceration! WE SAY STOP! This is not the future we want! We want to be free. We want to be able to live a normal life. We want peace. Is that too much to ask?"
One Blog I read gave a clear perspective for the reasons behind the attention GYBO have gained in the West:
The authors have already released a clarifying statement. They are not dumb, and know which sparkles caught the eye of their tormentors to the north and west, and it wasn’t the stuff about "fuck Israel." (Referring to the fact that they state Fuck Hamas and Fata)
There has been much debate across the left as to whether GYBO are a significant group or mealy a small group of people, not truly representative of the sentiment currently felt in Gaza and the situation there. The reason for the outbreak in publicity is due to their manifesto message managing to strike a chord in the Western media. According to an article published on the 10th of this month in the London Review of Books (Quote) “it has received little attention in the Arab world. The most extensive report on it appeared in Al Akhbar in Lebanon, which more or less reprinted the piece from the Observer”, although subsequently Al Jazeera’s Western media published an article yesterday on the issue.
Weather they represent a board consensus of the people of Gaza or not is not the issue. What matters is that they are a group of (Quote, from the Observer) “Eight people – three women and five men – who wrote the text. They are normal students, from the more secular elements of Gazan society. All declare themselves to be non-political and disgusted with the tensions and rivalries that divide Palestinians between Hamas, the rulers of Gaza, and Fatah, the more secular party which governs the Palestinian Authority, based in the West Bank. "Politics is bollocks, it is screwing our lives up," said one member of the group. "Politicians only care about money and about their supporters. The Israelis are the only ones benefiting from the division."
So the fact of this situation is that they are like the Left AWL - students who are dissatisfied with all political denominations which claim to represent them, as the AWL is third camp Trotskyism, dissatisfied with Stalinists (such as the SWP, or Workers Power) and opposed to the capitalist construct. For this reason and for the fact that we too are opposed to the Israelis and Hamas oppression we (although I do not want to speak out of turn) stand by and should attempt to support and create links with GYBO in solidarity with this struggle.
The article published yesterday on Western Al Jazeera’s web page was surprisingly in favour of GYBO. Written by Mark Levine - a professional musician and professor of Middle Eastern history at the University of California, he is the author of half a dozen books, including Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Religion and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam.
Here is an extract from this article: Note his position towards Hamas:
Hamas as a movement was similarly born in violence, initially against Palestinians more than against Israelis. And now that it has become the de facto state in Gaza, it has deployed its violence against fellow Palestinians with little more scruples than the PA.
Such violence corrodes the social and national solidarity without which large scale, coordinated resistance against occupation is much harder to sustain. It creates, as the authors of the Gazan youth manifesto describe it repeatedly in their text, a "nightmare inside a nightmare," one with "no room for hope, no space for freedom."
This nightmare within a nightmare reflects a double or even triple occupation that keeps those most desperate for freedom imprisoned behind an almost impregnable series of walls. Gazan and Palestinian youth more broadly not only have to fight against the Israeli occupation, they have to fight against their own internal power structures, whose divisive and often bloody competition, corruption, and lack of respect for divergent voices within Palestinian society further weakens the community.
In Breaking their silence GYBO have put their lives at risk (Quote from Guardian): “ young university students are visibly excited, but also scared. "Not only are our lives in danger; we are also putting our families at risk," says one of them, who calls himself Abu George.
Gaza Youth's Manifesto for Change is an extraordinary, impassioned cyber-scream in which young men and women from Gaza – where more than half the 1.5 million population is under 18 – make it clear that they've had enough.
GYBO have been attacked on the internet and in some instances have been called Zionists, the Arab world have rejected their plea due to the manifestos explicit opposition to Hamas. So much so that the GYBO opened a blog page as their ability to communicate on Facebook and possibly even Twitter (as they have not Tweeted for a few days now) has been restricted. On this blog page they issued a statement in response to the amount of criticism they were exposed to.
Here is their response:
Title - Don’t distort our speech!
Many activists reject our movement and consider us as some Zionist machinery because in the manifesto, we’ve been denouncing Hamas – among others. It’s always amazing to see the shortcuts people’s minds can take and how good they are at condemning without even trying to understand. We’d like to remind all our goal: yes we are frustrated and tired of being oppressed, killed, humiliated and kept from even leaving to study in other countries, yes we denounce political parties governing us because they didn’t help in anything, but we denounce ALL of them, not ONLY Hamas. We are TIRED of the status quo, from all sides. Political parties have all had the time and chances to BRING THE CHANGE, but we haven’t seen anything yet.
We’re NOT calling for a political coup, let’s be clear on this. We’re young people who want to work for the PEOPLE, we denounce the misery we live in, we denounce their division, and reject their fight, because they are not helping us. But more than Fatah and Hamas, who remains Palestinians just like us, ABOVE ALL we denounce the Occupier & its puppet the International Community who fails, day after day, in its duty to impose sanctions on “Israel”.
Our followers, readers, and those who are not supporting us yet must keep in mind THIS message: we have ONE enemy which is the Zionist Occupier. Hopefully this call will shake our political leaders, wake them up and remind them that they are responsible of us! Hopefully they will realize that what we want is UNITY, and NO MORE DIVISION, because it makes Israeli terrorism’s impact on our lives even worse.
Our call is a call for SOLIDARITY, a call for PEACEFUL ACTION; we are holding out our hands & waiting for you to complete the bond. Make sure this is read, help us work for a better solution, HELP US MAKE IT!
Here are a few of their tweets:
And we want to get back our rights, bring that change, hand in hand with you against #Zionism. Wait and see what we, #Gaza youth, can do!
Right to return, right to have a state, right to be free, right to exist. We're Palestinians & that's what we demand. BUILD THE BOND W/ US!
Why #Gaza's youth stopped dreaming of a normal future? We dare dream, we dare call for an end to this blockade who buries us alive!
@bangpound We wish more Arabs supported us, hopefully they will join, but apparently, they don't like us criticizing our political parties.
Response from the left in the UK
The SWP may try to claim to support GYBO but this isn’t the case there has been no reference to the group in their paper or their website. Besides this the SWP support Hamas, the very group, who form the oppression of the secular youths who have caused the spawning of GYBO. So for the SWP to claim support for GYBO is absurd.
On the SWP website in an article written by Jody Macintire: he quotes the South African freedom fighter Steve Biko, (quote) "The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed", The State of Israel can oppress the Palestinians for another sixty-three years, but it will never defeat their spirit, or win their minds – The article gives no reference to the oppression caused by Hamas toward the Palestinians, which is a clear factor behind the GYBO.
The AWL was the only left wing site I found with reference to the GYBO. It says allot about other Left wing groups, as they have such extreme positions that when another factor is thrown into the malaise they are unable to accommodate it even if the new information such as the GYBO is a step in the right direction, in doing so this brings the left into disrepute when groups such as the SWP or Workers Power are intrinsically linked to the support of a lesser oppressor, in this case Hamas, being smaller than Israeli oppression. The Awl is the legitimate voice for those truly oppressed around the world, whether in terms of religion, state, or local oppression. Workers of the World Unite!
The Gaza Youth Break Out is a marvellous occurrence to come out of the situation in Gaza. They are Secular and opposed to all and are in search of true peace. If they are not to be supported then we might as well condemn the Israel Palestine conflict forever. Solidarity with GYBO!
Here are some links to their recent Interviews and adaptations of their manifesto:
Authors of Gaza youth manifesto speak to EI Rami Almeghari, The Electronic Intifada, 18 January 2011
GYBO – Manifesto 2.0