Featured Image: Ash Hayes
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It’s October 15, and in just seven days, more than two thousand Palestinians have been killed.
Many more are injured. Entire families have been erased from a city. Israel has ordered an evacuation of Gaza, as hospitals struggle to treat the wounded, the city’s water supply is cut off, and the internet is shut off. Israel has dropped more bombs in Gaza in a week than the US dropped in Afghanistan in a year. White phosphorus bombs, which not only explode but spread fire and burn the organs inside.
Gaza is not a country. It’s one city. The highest populated city in all of Palestine. As I write this, videos from Palestinian journalists are flooding social media, trying to wake the world up to a genocide happening in plain sight.
I write this from India, about 2700 miles away from Palestine. What involvement can I have in any of this?
I’ve never been to Palestine. Truthfully, I only started to learn about Palestinian history about five years ago, when I was introduced to Edward Said’s writings. But it exists now in my mind as it did when I first heard of it — a spiritual home. For those who are of the Muslim faith, or the Christian, or the Jewish. I loved that there was a place where we could collectively find spiritual significance, a place that could bring us together for God.
I support Palestine because I’m Muslim and because I’m Indian. In the year of its independence, India became the first non-Arab state to recognise the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) as a representative of the Palestinian people, and in 1988, India was among the first countries to recognise the Palestinian State. India has always supported the right of the Palestinian people to a sovereign state and has even co-sponsored the draft resolution on ‘The Right of Palestinians to Self-Determination’, during the 53rd session of the United Nations General Assembly. It has financed the construction of schools and libraries and provided the necessary equipment for vocational training in Gaza, Ramallah, and Abu Dis. My support for Palestine will never take away from my Indian-ness. I shrink a little on the inside when I see tweets and posts by Indians that make fun of injured children in Gaza, or the way we bow to Israeli policies. We have given up our peaceful ideals to defer to a state that was formed just a year after our own independence, a state that was opposed by the likes of Mahatma Gandhi, Malcolm X, and James Baldwin.
As a Muslim, I must support Palestine because Islam advocates for justice. The Qur’an tells me that there is no veil between God and the prayers of the oppressed. As a Muslim, Palestine is holy to me. If you’re a Christian, Palestine is holy to you. If you’re Jewish, Palestine is holy to you. Despite this, we have all failed Palestine. So many Jews are waging a horrific war on an innocent people. So many Christians were behind the building of a Zionist state because of their belief in white supremacy. And so many Muslims choose to stay silent, despite their privileges, and don’t offer any kind of support because they are afraid of being disliked. And they all blame each other, refusing to acknowledge the fact that each has had a hand in destroying the holy land.
The world blames what they call ‘Islamists’ or ‘terrorists’, and the remainder blame Jewish people. Those whose voices are lost in the din try to say what they have always said: that Zionism is a perversion of Judaism and that the question of Palestine was never a religious issue in the first place. Israel may be a Jewish state, but Palestine is a Jewish home, just like it is also a Muslim home and a Christian home. Pseudo-liberals love to talk about how we should spread peace and love, and how ‘things would be better if they just talked to each other’, like that hasn’t been done already. There are people who say things like, “But so many civilians died, you must think about Israeli civilians.” Loss of any life is a grievous thing, but Palestinian civilians are not really on the same page as Israeli civilians. Israelis are not living in an open-air prison, with no food or water, no shelter, and no internet. Israeli journalists aren’t being shot while in press vests. Israeli bloodlines aren’t being cut off by the massacre of hundreds of children.
And on the other hand? Palestinians do not have the liberty to flee to another country. Palestinians do not have humanitarian aid worth billions coming their way from powerful countries that also supply their military firepower. Palestinians are not drafted for the army and do not receive military training. Palestinians are not calling for the death of European Jews, yet Israeli settlers have been known to chant for the death of Arabs. When you have been pushed to the brink, and then beyond it, you cannot be expected to play the perfect victim. There is no place for courtesy in survival. There are Holocaust survivors who support the right of Palestine to exist as a sovereign state, and there are those who would desecrate the memory of a genocide by using it to justify another genocide.
I heard someone say, “The story doesn’t start when you find out about it.” We are such narcissists, so used to centering ourselves in everything we think about that we forget we are temporary. The world can never make things right for Palestine until every forcibly exiled family is allowed to return to the land of their ancestors. The two-state solution isn’t the serving of proper justice, and ethnic cleansing is the opposite of a solution. If you have ever seen movies about the World Wars and the Holocaust, and have been moved to tears as you wonder how people can be so terrible to each other, now you know. We have been desensitized to violence in the Middle East, and we forget that tragedy is not a natural way of life for them. We are watching a full-scale massacre unfold before us, live. The atrocities endured by the Palestinians are beyond imagination, and yet, too many of us have the gall to say that it’s all too complicated to understand. That we don’t know enough to take sides. In a world where misinformation can spread like wildfire and have real-world consequences, we cannot afford to weaponize our ignorance. If lack of knowledge is truly what is holding us back, then we better pick up a history book. Do the research. We need to start reading Palestinian authors, listening to Palestinian testimonies, following Palestinian creators on social media, and fact-checking the news we consume. That can be a place to start. That is the least we can do, and we need to do it now before Gaza becomes a memory. Before all that’s left is guilt.
Tags: #FreePalestine Decolonisation Gaza Indian Muslim muslim palestine