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Palestinian Conflict

We must continue the calls for an immediate ceasefire, the end to all current military operations and halt of forced evictions.

I’m going to take a leap here and make an assumption that BlackCommentator readers are familiar with the long and tortuous conflict in the Middle East. You know that it has been lopsided, both in terms of media coverage and the devastating impact of occupation by Israeli forces of Palestinian land. What’s different about the latest escalation is its scale on several different levels.

There was irony in the use of the word ‘surprise’ when mainstream media first reported the attack by Hamas. The force of the attack may have caught the world by surprise but for many, it was seen as a response to the decades of repression, destruction of Palestinian land and culture and the genocide of its people.

Condemnation of Israel has been swift and expected but defense for the Palestinian cause was not always a natural outgrowth. This latest incident witnessed a visible growing support from unsuspecting places and people. When 140 groups signed a joint statement calling on the Biden administration to condemn the Israeli government’s war crimes against the Palestinians, it was not just the usual suspects. It included environmental, faith-based and housing groups.

For the last decade – most notably since the Ferguson Uprising – social media has been the battleground for changing the Israeli narrative. The massive protests in the U.S. around police terror have definitely been an inspiring boost for the Palestinian struggle.

Celebrities such as Mark Ruffalo, Viola Davis, Zara Larsson, Selena Gomez, Zayn Malik, Susan Sarandon, Angela Davis and a host of others have used their high-profile status to voice support for the Palestinians. There’s also Hollywood’s Artists4Ceasefire, who called on President Biden for a ceasefire.

There have been real-time exchanges between the world and Palestinians on the ground. Mohammed el-Kurd who shares a running diary about his family’s looming eviction from his neighborhood under the hashtag #SaveSheikhJarrah. Mapping apps are readily available that reveal the disparate living conditions between life in Tel Aviv and the Gaza Strip.

Retaliation has come in many forms and has been brutal and even deadly. A six-year-old Palestinian child was stabbed to death and his mother seriously wounded by their Jewish landlord in a Chicago suburb.

Powerful Jewish donors are pressuring universities to muzzle Pro-Palestinian student groups on their campuses. Jewish-influenced funders are threatening to halt dollars to social justice groups who take a side against Israel.

Kooper Caraway, head of Service Employees International Union Connecticut (SEIU), was forced to resign after a rally where they made remarks in support of the Palestinians. Coffee mogul Starbucks is suing Starbucks Workers United for its social media support of the Palestinian struggle.

The list goes on. These types of retaliatory actions have only served to affirm Israeli dominance and its repressive tactics to turn every word for Palestinian support into anti-Semitism. It’s using its abusive power to suppress the most basic human right – the right to free speech. This is offensive to most freedom-loving people but not nearly as much as the Israeli atrocities against the Palestinian people since the 1948 Nakba.

It appears that the Israeli Zionists have a two-fold strategy: to force Palestinians into neighboring countries like Jordan and Egypt as refugees and to obliterate any signs of Palestinian life and culture. Israeli is using the attack of Hamas as an excuse to rid themselves of Palestinians once and for all.

The governments of Egypt and Jordan have objected to this strategy and are holding fast to what seems like, to many, an inhumane response to giving Palestinians safe passage and refuge. Their refusal is rooted in suspicions that this is Israel’s plan to force a permanent expulsion of Palestinians and thereby squash the Palestinian demands for statehood. Their distrust is justified. Over the years, Arab countries and Palestinians have witnessed how Israel has changed the demographic landscape by pushing out Palestinians in order to make room for a Jewish majority.

Those of us in this country have a special obligation to hold our own government accountable. Israel could not be the military might it is without the billions of dollars in annual aid from the United States. Our hard-earned tax dollars are paying for militarized occupation and for the elected body who keeps authorizing them.

We must continue the calls for an immediate ceasefire, the end to all current military operations and the halt of forced evictions. We must support the efforts to supply the Gaza Strip with the basic necessities for life. That’s for right now.

Self-determination for Palestine is a righteous demand. The world must condemn the apartheid situation created by Israel that maintains the hostile and unbearable living conditions for the Palestinian people. Just like Israel sees an opening to move its Zionist agenda forward, we who believe in freedom must use this as an opportunity to bring the conditions for peace to the region. Actual peace won’t be real for years to come but it starts with acknowledging the historic injustices upon Palestinians that, if unrequited, will always foment resistance and revolution by the oppressed.

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