Moral Outrage
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Palestinians can only dream

In the Jenin refugee camp this week, dozens of excited children and teenagers assembled one afternoon this week in the modest but well-kept auditorium located on the edge of the camp.

The theater’s performances are not for children only, though the kids in the audience heartily applauded this production with earsplitting whistling and clapping. Afterward, they departed the dark theater and entered the daytime darkness of life in a refugee camp – a life of want and crowding, unemployed youths, card games at the local cafe, children playing with junk on the streets and adults sitting at store-fronts, staring hopelessly into space. This is a reality of idleness and lost hope, of despair.

Children who took part in its first cycle of plays were fighters in the first intifada; many of them are no longer alive. This week, it was hard to stifle ominous thoughts about what might happen to the children at the production of “Alice in Wonderland”: what does the future hold in store for this current generation of youngsters?

This week, Jenin’s wonderland was to be found in Egypt. Residents of the refugee camp closely followed events in the land of the Nile, in a mood of melancholy jealousy. Each night they crowded into homes to watch television and see what was going on in Cairo. But no winds of change are blowing in the West Bank. No solidarity demonstration was staged; not a single poster of support was to be seen on the streets. The pining for freedom is to be found only in the Jenin theater.

Camp residents saw what just a few days of popular protest can do – topple a tyrannical regime that has been in power for decades. Yet here in the camp, a struggle that has lasted decades, a mass, armed and sometimes violent campaign for freedom, has changed nothing. All is despair. At the end of last week, the IDF once again invaded the camp and in the dark of night whisked four young men from their beds. Nobody in the camp knew why this happened, or where the men were taken. That’s just the way the world turns.

On resident says “All the residents of the camp support the demonstrators in Egypt. They say: If only this were to happen throughout the Arab world. But there is a major difference between a regime and an occupation. A struggle against an occupation lasts a long time.”

[Excerpt of a Haaretz article]

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