On creative disruption: the May uprising in Palestine

A Palestinian man waves a the Palestinian flag at the Al-Aqsa Compound in Jerusalem on 13 May 2021 . (ohoto: Mostafa Alkharouf / Anadolu Agency)
It is a moment that demands fresh analyses and new forms of solidarity organized not simply around Palestinian suffering, but also around resistance.

By Rana Baker | ROAR Magazine | May 29, 2021

In Palestinian mosques, Muslims do not remember God only. They remember colonial injustice, renew their commitment to fighting the powers which inflict it, and behoove God to strengthen the resolve of those who risk their lives fighting it.

The Islamic month of Ramadan is not itself the time of revolution. Yet, Ramadan holds within itself disruptions and intensifications that are always immanent — always capable of turning into an insurrection if summoned into action. These disruptions and intensifications are constitutive of the month and it is from them that the uprising that engulfed Palestine for two weeks in May drew its first spark. Ramadan’s disruptive temporality did not condition the uprising, but it did provide the immediate historical accident which ignited it and entangled all of Palestine.

Accidents, however, are materially conditioned. They are circumscribed by spatial arrangements and specific material practices which themselves are not accidents. Accidents are only accidents to the extent that their occurrence is neither pre-determined nor possible to predict. One can predict that the colonized will rise up against their colonizers, but the specific “accident” which sets an uprising in motion is not historically pre-determined.

In Palestine, historical accidents are conditioned by Israeli settler-colonialism. The May uprising unfolded as a radical rejection of these conditions. Ramadan provided not just a disruptive temporality, but one that became entangled with the commemorative calendar of the colonizing state. Such entanglement, or ishtibak as Palestinians call it, is key to understanding the power of the uprising.

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