Palestinian Call for 'Apple Intifada' Elicits Jeers, Protest

Non-violent anti-occupation video clip greeted by barrage of virtual rotten tomatoes on social networks.

Daniel Bar-On

A folksy Palestinian song that praises working the land as a means in the struggle against the occupation and negates the importance of the armed struggle has elicited in less than two days a deluge of protests and jeers on social networks, forcing the singer to publish a clarification and an apology.

On Tuesday the official Palestinian television station broadcast a song by singer Hafez Mussa, of which the refrain is “I will plant olive trees, a lemon tree, I will plant apple trees. We won’t let the tyrant in our land relax and rest, our revolution is not violent (salamiyya, its ways are peaceful), though they call us terrorists. Our resistance is just and legal and without weapons.”

In response, thousands of posts on Facebook are offering their own versions of “the apple revolution”: from sowing zucchini for the struggle against the tyrant to “reports” about the Iron Dome that intercepted barrages of apples from the West Bank.

The song is being interpreted as opposing and criticizing the armed struggle. Some have seen it as representing the position of the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, against the use of weapons. Hamas spokesmen have taken the opportunity to condemn the Ramallah government.

Some have mocked the artistic level of the song. Friends of the singer came to his defense against what they have seen as an attack on him, and afterwards Mussa himself made it clear that he is not associated with any organization that calls for relinquishing “the tiniest fragment” and does not oppose the armed struggle. He asked forgiveness of those who were hurt by his words.

Mussa is from a family of refugees from the destroyed village of Sindiana (southeast of the Carmel range). His father was a folk poet, born in the Jenin refugee camp. He has related that he wrote the song about two years ago, at the request of Ziad Abu Ein, the minister for the struggle against the separation fence and the settlements who died last year of a heart attack during a demonstration against the takeover by settlers from the Adei Ad outpost of lands belonging to the villages of Turmusaya and Al Mugheir.

The sound track of the song is accompanied by familiar shots of olive harvesting and plowing, refugee children studying in tents, youngsters hurling stones at an Israeli armored car and children on the backdrop of ruins in the Gaza Strip.

Unfortunately for the singer, himself a resident of the Jenin refugee camp, the song was broadcast the day after the IDF raided the camp and demolished a house there.

The struggle against the occupation by means of expanding and encouraging agricultural activity and strengthening the villages is not alien to the Palestinian discourse, especially as Palestinians are convinced that one of the traditional Israeli means for robbing them is by damaging the agricultural sector. The popular struggle committees that have arisen in various villages over the past 15 years have stressed the damage to their livelihood and agricultural tradition.

From time to time the PA announces tree-planting initiatives in Areas C. In recent years the PA and the Ministry for the Struggle Against the Settlements have been depicting the steadfastness of the villages as part of the concept of unarmed struggle, but among the public the feeling is one of lack of trust in the motives of the PA leaders who are calling for a popular struggle while specifically suspected of the desire to maintain their privileges.