We are in the midst of the annual Holiday of Holidays festival (also known as חג של החגים or عيد الأعياد) in Haifa. This unique festival celebrates the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim holidays which are observed by Haifans around this time. I attend every year to enjoy the music and atmosphere, so I've posted on the holiday before.
The holiday is a long-running tradition and doesn't usually change very much from year to year. However, this year I noticed the presence of a group of people who appeared to want to hijack the message of the festival and were protesting "fake co-existence." What used to be the Tamuz Theater Cafe has been turned into a branch of the ابناء البلد (Abnaa el Balad, "Sons of the Land") movement.
"End the fake co-existence"
In their "office," they're displaying the usual Nakba pictures, along with more recent Gaza ones. Other "decorations" include the Palestinian flag, of course, as well as pictures of keys and Che Guevara.
I talked to the young guy standing outside, but unfortunately he couldn't seem to produce anything beyond slogans, like the "We are against this fake co-existence" one. His friend was more eloquent. A., the only Jew in the place, told me had grown up attending Arab schools and living in a mostly-Arab neighbourhood. According to him, the goals of the movement were to "educate the Arabs" to rise up so that they would "take the power." I asked him if they voted, and he was proud to say that they do not participate in Knesset elections, since it was a "fake democracy" and would not be able to fulfill their goals. Since the group doesn't vote, I asked him if that meant that "taking the power" would mean through violent means. A. tried to appear mysterious but basically affirmed what I was asking, and supported suicide bombings as a legitimate form of resistance. He proceeded to cite Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, and Hugo Chavez as role models who had been able to "make life better" for their citizens.
Nineteen-year-old A. also told me that Abnaa el Balad was a secular movement, seeking the return of the Palestinian refugees to a Palestinian state which would be composed of Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. This corresponds with what is written about the group on Wikipedia. He was proud to tell me that although the group was sometimes considered communist or socialist, he was actually an anarchist.
Does the opening of a branch here in Haifa, in the heart of the Arab Wadi Nisnas neighbourhood, reflect radicalization of Haifa's Arab youth? Their disillusionment? The dozen or so people in the office were all very young. Most of the writing was in Arabic and clearly aimed only at the Arab sector. They weren't so much interested in capturing Jewish attention and seeking cooperation, but rather in convincing and waking fellow Arabs. Is this the flip side of the Lieberman coin?
[Shaul] Mofaz is a war criminal
I agree that the often praised co-existence in Haifa is in some instances seen more on paper than in reality. I do think, however, that the Holiday of Holidays is a festival which is truly multicultural and that people of all of the city's and country's faiths participate in it. In fact, if anyone is excluded from this holiday, it's Sabbath-observing Jews, since most of the festivities take place on Saturdays, as a religious friend of mine pointed out. In any case, Abnaa el Balad aren't pushing for more or better co-existence. They're pushing for a one-state solution, to be called Palestine.