This essay explores the genesis of the Great March of Return in the context of a fragmented Palestinian body politic, blockade, and occupation, highlighting two major issues: the Palestinian refugee plight and the decade-long blockade on Gaza. The essay argues that the march represented a rare opening for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to reclaim a factionally controlled political sphere, and demonstrates that the organizers of the march valiantly strove to keep it going in the face of insurmountable challenges. It also contends that Israel's bloody crackdown, the difficulties of organizing in a divided Palestinian body politic, and international inaction were factors in the protest's loss of momentum, which ultimately set back the mass mobilization of the Gaza Strip. The march left Palestinians with many questions about the viability of nonviolent methods in the face of disproportionate Israeli force.
The Great March of Return: An Organizer's Perspective
Jehad Abusalim is Palestine-Israel program associate at the American Friends Service Committee in Chicago. Abusalim is a native of Gaza, Palestine, where he has lived for most of his life. Currently, he is a PhD student at New York University in a joint Hebrew and Judaic studies and history program, specializing in early-twentieth-century Arab and Palestinian literature on Zionism.
Jehad Abusalim; The Great March of Return: An Organizer's Perspective. Journal of Palestine Studies 1 August 2018; 47 (4): 90–100. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jps.2018.47.4.90
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