The Humanity of Palestinians Continues to be Denied.
We cannot ignore Israel’s blatant war crimes against the people of Palestine.
I’ll be the first to admit I’m not an expert when it comes to the middle east, the conflict between Israel and Palestine being no exception. But, given everything that we have seen happen over the past week alone as the fighting continues to escalate, it’s become increasingly apparent that we really don’t have to be an expert in order to see the asymmetrical power dynamics between them.
On the night of May 15th, 2021, Israel bombed the road leading to the Al Shifa Hospital, the main and largest hospital in Gaza. Since May 10th, 40 Palestinian children have been murdered, half of them being under the age of 10. Earlier on the very same day that the roads to the hospital were bombed, eight Palestinian children and two women were murdered in a single attack, and the building that houses dozens of press offices in Gaza was reduced to rubble by Israeli bombs, President Biden’s administration tweeted:
“Today the President spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, reaffirmed his strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza, and condemned these indiscriminate attacks against Israel.”
Unsurprisingly, there was significant backlash to the tweet but no response stood out to me more than Jasmine’s, which said:
“I voted for you. I called people up, begged people to vote, and donated what I could. The disappointment I feel cannot be downplayed. This is cowardice. Don’t call yourself the leader of the free world when you fund ethic cleansing.”
NBC Host Medhi Hasan also weighed in, calling the White House’s statement a complete and utter erasure of the Palestinian people, including dead Palestinian kids in Gaza.
That’s putting it mildly.
I saw a video on social Media that was shared by Middle East Eye, an independent news organization, and it’s been on my mind ever since. It was of a ten year old girl named Nadine Abdel-Taif, the neighbor of the eight children and two women who were murdered in one of Israel’s recent attacks. In the video, she says:
“I’m always sick, I don’t know, I can’t do anything. You see all of this. What do you expect me to do? Fix it? I’m only ten. I can’t even deal with this anymore. I just want to be a doctor or anything to help my people, but I can’t. I’m just a kid. I don’t even know what to do. I get scared, but not really that much. I’d do anything for my people but I don’t know what to do I’m just ten. I’m just ten. All of this when I see it I literally cry every day. I said to myself why do we deserve this? What did we do for this? My family said they just hate us. They just don’t like us, because we are Muslims. Why does Muslims act for you like that? You see all of the kids around me they’re just kids. Why would you just send a missile to them and kill them? It’s not fair. It’s not fair.”
Still, you can always count on supporters of Israel’s right wing government to support their actions no matter to the trauma it is causing innocent families and children like Nadine. ‘Why don’t they just leave?’ they say, as though these children make the choice to be slaughtered.
There is no both sides to this issue.
Not when Israel continues to bombard Palestinians with such brutal, obviously incredibly disproportionate force. Not when the death of innocent Palestinian men, women, and children as a result of the conflict is met with the response of: “why did you make us do this to you?”
Humanity is granted to the lives lost on the Israeli side, as it should be. It’s devastating that a six year old Israeli child is dead as a result of this conflict. But why is that humanity not granted to the dozens of dead Palestinian children and the hundreds of injured?
This is not a fight between two equal forces. This is a fight between occupiers and the occupied. It’s between oppressors and the oppressed. It’s between the powerful and the powerless. It’s a fight between a nation with the might of the entire U.S. empire behind them, and a state that has been made an open air prison by its oppressors, with no control of its borders or a military to defend its people.
So long as the United States continues to fund to Israel with no strings attached as they engage in the oppression and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, we have their blood on our hands. Relentlessly repeating the talking points about Israel’s right to defend itself while deliberately ignoring what has led to this cycle of violence — like the raiding of the Al Aqsa Mosque and forcing Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem — is a moral stain on every nation that continues to look the other way. Only condemning Hamas’ actions while ignoring what has started and perpetuated this violence is not “neutral”. It is complacency in oppression, and should be treated as such.