I am tired of the world acting like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a feud as old as mankind between the prophets, as they rolled a rock through Jerusalem together. The past week has re-ignited both states being in the news, and while the finger-pointing between politicians continues, hundreds of innocent lives are lost.
For those of you that are not familiar with the region, I wanted to offer cliff notes of how current-day Israel and Palestine came to be.
1517 to 1917 – The Ottoman Empire ruled much of the region
1918 – After World War I, the British took control of Palestine
1941-1945 – Nazi Germany systematically murdered 6 million Jews across German-occupied Europe
1947 – the United Nations proposed a plan to partition Palestine in two sections: an independent Jewish state and an independent Arab state. This went against the wishes of the Arab settlers who already lived there!
1948 – British rulers left, and European Jewish leaders declared the state of Israel.
1947-1949 – Over 750,000 Palestinians were expelled by Zionist militias to make way for the Establishment of Israel
Caption: “THE GERMANS DESTROYED OUR FAMILIES AND HOMES, DON’T YOU DESTROY OUR HOPES.”
The land where Israel currently resides was offered as a consolation prize by the United Nations because of the horrors committed against the European Jews during World War II. Now it’s interesting that the United Nations offered up Palestine, instead of a chunk of England or France. Why? Because even after World War II, European Jews still faced anti-Semitic persecution in Europe. Meanwhile, Palestine was minding its own business and, may I repeat again (for the people in the back) was not anti-Semitic. Palestinian Jews, Christians, and Muslims all lived in Palestine together. Arab Rulers vehemently opposed this two-state solution, but they were overruled by the United Nations.
Hmmm…where have we seen this before? European settlers coming into a foreign land and claiming it as their own because they felt entitled? Lemme think…Lemme think.
650,000 Europeans showed up, a violent conflict happened, and 700,000 Palestinians civilians became refugees.
But--wait why is Jerusalem such a holy city for Jews in the first place? According to the Hebrew Bible, the First Temple, (known today as the Temple Mount) was built by King Solomon and finished in 950 BC. Mount Moriah is where Abraham almost sacrificed his son and talked to God. When the Babylonians captured the city in 580 BC, they destroyed the temple and sent the Jews into exile.
That’s right—the “claim” that the European settlers felt they had on the land comes from 580BC. That is the equivalent of coming back, and claiming a parking spot you left behind 2000 years ago! The reasons given for current-day Israel existing is paper-thin and would be laughable anywhere else in the world. But when backed by the United Nations and the U.S. military—the joke stops being funny.
Poverty, inequality, and refugees don’t just happen, it is created by small men who draw lines in the sand--that they have no business drawing. The world averted its eyes when Israel was created because the European Jewish people were coming off the end of a tragic Holocaust. What consistently gets left off that narrative is that the Palestinian people continue to be the collateral damage that no one wants to acknowledge.
As you can see, current-day “Palestine” is landlocked. There are checkpoints inside the West Bank, that restrict Palestinians from moving anywhere. It has been called “The World’s Largest Open-Air Prison.” This blockade has resulted in 82% unemployment, 10X increase in those dependent on handouts, 56% live in poverty. Last year, Israel banned fuel shipments forcing Gaza’s only power plant to shut down, leaving residents with just four hours of electricity a day. Most of Gaza’s water is unfit for consumption, residents have to buy expensive desalinated water. The blockade has left Gaza with a chronic shortage of medical supplies. There are currently 2 million people in Gaza, almost half are 14 years or younger. 70% are refugees whose families were expelled from their homes in 1948 by Israel.
This is what systematic ethnic cleansing and genocide look like. Corralling people and then bombing them every couple of years. The irony of course is that it’s being launched by a group of people who have known the pain and suffering of ethnic cleansing themselves. And when a rocket or two is launched in protest—the Palestinians are called the terrorists. Because Islam and Terrorism have been synonymous since 09/11 happened. For twenty years our media, our movies have depicted Mosques and terror cells side by side. So that the rest of the world is de-sensitized when Muslims are in pain. And to speak up against this conflict—one is immediately labeled Anti-Semitic. Which has resulted in many Muslims not speaking up for fear of appearing racist or political. But the facts are simply the facts. Palestinians are being persecuted, simply for existing. And the “U.S. provides $3.8 billion per year in military aid to Israel, so it can defend itself against a stateless territory with no air force, army or navy.” Ken Klippenstein
The latest conflict happened during the holy month of Ramadan, in recent weeks, tensions have flared over the eviction of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah (let's reference the map above—not many places left for Palestinians to go). And if you’re thinking, “wow, how can you just remove people from their homes? Isn’t that against the law”—Yes!!! Under international law, it would be a war crime. But under Israeli Laws – it isn’t.
On May 7th, Israeli security forces fired rubber-coated bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at worshipers gathered at Al-Aqsa mosque on May 7th. And the symbolism of Muslims being attacked while praying in a mosque is what has set off the latest round of clashes.
We have inherited a world that is recovering, and still lives alongside the domination of what European colonization has done. It is time to look at this with unflinching eyes. To no longer change the topic for fear that it isn’t a “polite” conversation. Being polite has resulted in the erasure of groups of people. There are cultures, languages, and customs that can never be recovered.
Last year, the events surrounding George Floyd asked you, “what would you do during the civil rights movement?” This year, I ask you, “what would you do if you were witnessing systematic genocide?”
The slogan “Never Again” is a phrase associated with the Holocaust, so that people don’t forget that genocide is despicable. And yet since 1948, there have been over 50 genocides that have taken place (that we know of). Pay attention. Stand up. Use your Voice. It is so very important.
“We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”
― Nelson Mandela
“European settlers coming to a foreign land, settling there, and either committing genocide against or expelling the indigenous people. The Zionists have not invented anything new in this respect.” ― Noam Chomsky.
“The Zionist argument to justify Israel’s present occupation of Arab Palestine has no intelligent or legal basis in history,” Malcolm X
“It would be my great sadness to see Zionists do to Palestinians much of what Nazis did to the Jews.” Albert Einstein
How you can help
Based within the Gaza Strip
Provide food directly to Palestinians
Provide hospital + medical support including support for staff
Palestine Child Relief Fund (PCRF)
Provide medical care + supplies, food, medicine, other aid
The only nonprofit sending volunteer doctors each year to the Middle East
United Palestinian Appeal
Providing meals directly to refugees across refugee camps
Running the Small Business Development Program to help Palestinian achieve economic independence + implement sustainable upgrades
Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, the BDC (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) urges action to pressure Israel to comply with international law. The BDS movement has outlined the 5 most effective actions you can do to support Palestinians during this time
1. Work with progressive networks to pressure parliament and government to end all military security cooperation and trade (military funding from the U.S.)
2. Ban all goods/services of companies operating in Israel’s illegal colonial settlements
3. Demand a UN investigation of Israeli apartheid
4. Mobilize pressure in your community trade union, association, church, social network, student government/union, city council, culture center or other organization to declare it an Apartheid Free Zone (AFZ) ending all relations with apartheid Israel and companies that are complicit in its system of oppression
5. Boycott products and services from Israeli and international companies and banks that are complicit in Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity.