My heart, oh, Palestine
Dispatch Part One: Some historical pointers and clarifications
I’m dedicating what I know about Palestine for as long as I need to in the next few weeks due to the immense misinformation or lack of information that’s happening right now. Many of you, I’ve noticed, don’t really know a lot about the history, and so I’ve decided to share everything that I know and have been thinking about and processing in the last few days. Truthfully, I’m garnering a lot of hate right now, but if you trust my work, and trust me as a researcher and a journalist who writes with integrity to the truth, then please keep reading. My attempt here is to educate and to give people a foundational explanation of what’s going on, and what to do next.
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A little context, I have worked in and around Palestinian liberation groups for the last two decades because of my father, who has ardently been pro-Palestinian his entire life and is a political science professor. He taught me young to read the works of Edward Said, Mahmoud Darwish, and Noam Chomsky, and by 14 I already knew more about the resistance and history of the region than I did about most things. This, I don’t think, is a singular experience, there’s a considerable throughline and a hefty lineage between the solidarity movements of Bangladeshi and Palestinian liberation. So it always felt politically aligned for me to have these values.
As a teenager, I worked with interfaith groups alongside my sister, and it taught me a lot about Christian and Jewish folks. As a Muslim, I was raised knowing that both faiths were people of the book and that a good Christian or a good Jewish person would go to heaven over a bad Muslim. I always liked that, it felt fair, and that made me have reverence for Islam, I liked that it taught you to have awareness and self-criticality within the scripture itself. I was also raised with a lot of reverence for Judaism because I was in proximity to it as a child through the friendships I had, and therefore I held a close affinity for the faith. Yet, in the last few years, it’s been my relationships with anti-Zionist Jewish friends that have shown me that not only is it possible to unlearn the conditioning that the state of Israel has consciously seeped into many people’s brains, but that it’s necessary to do this work for the future of the planet.
This is what we’re witnessing happen in real-time — will people fight for justice, and what is foundationally right, or will they merely fight for themselves?
As a people, there are so many innocuous things that constantly need our attention and our unpacking. I believe it’s everyone’s responsibility to unlearn racism and white supremacy. In an idealistic sense, I would say I align most with Black Marxist principles, and therefore I view the world, and the world’s social hierarchy and order through that lens as well. At the very least, I know that the foundation of racism is an obsession with purity and supremacy that needs to be tackled in all of us, and it’s necessary, in order to evolve, to do that work.
For many years, while I’ve been in Palestinian liberation advocacy, I’ve noticed that there are a lot of holes in the conception of Israel in the mainstream culture, and in some Jewish folks’ imagination when I speak. Of course, Israel embodies this utopic relief of gaining a homeland, after such historic atrocity no less, and yet this is exactly where all the issues and the glaring contradictions seem to exist and become very sticky and slippery when people begin to outrightly defend Israel.
For me, I always question myself, power, and the institutions around me, so when others are not like that when they are blindly dedicated to a State’s mission of occupation and genocide, I’m always vehemently shocked. I think we are better to each other when we can be self-reflective. We are better to each other when we can look at our fear, our projections of others, and our own hypocrisies.
This is not an exaggeration, what we are facing, right now, is probably the biggest mobilization of decolonization I’ve ever witnessed in my lifetime. So, no surprises, the propaganda right now is truly mind-blowing. The way the international media is over-emphasizing Israeli deaths, the largest number of Jewish deaths since the Holocaust, while totally negating Palestinian deaths, is extremely alarming. Though I sympathize and feel the pain a lot of Jewish people are feeling right now, the almost no mention of the thousands, potentially millions, of people who are dying in Gaza right now, being stripped of running water, and electricity, having been bombed 6,000 times (not an exaggeration) in the last week… let alone the gross realities of 75 years of occupation and how many Palestinians and non-Palestinians have been killed in the fight for liberation, is shocking erasure, and a deep crime against humanity.
For me, as I look around this divide, what I see most clearly is the lack of work white people have done internally to face racism, Islamophobia and anti-Arab bias. The anecdote to racism isn’t to funnel that hatred elsewhere, toward yet another group of people and it’s insanity to see racist ass, anti-Semitic European nations pretend they care about Israel when we know their vested interest remains in the categorical and empirical destruction of Muslims and the Arab world, which is really what we’re facing right now. It’s interesting, too, while they tout “Israel’s 9/11” the language of Bush Era politics, “You Either Stand With Terrorists or You Stand With Israel,” it harkens back to that time for a reason because they’re trying to recreate the same sentiment that they initiated back then in order to justify exactly what they tried to justify then: ethnic cleansing. Over a million Iraqis have died in the American military’s wet dream to free Iraq. Bitch, why don’t you free yourself first?
We are told, that Muslims are barbaric, inhumane people who deserve war, criminality, and most importantly, destruction. That is what is being is sold to you right now. So what is unleashing onto Gaza, the Palestinians, and the rest of the surrounding regions, is a deeply vengeful tactic of annihilation. They will defend these actions by convincing you that we are all terrorists who deserve this punishment. They are manufacturing consent through your silence and complicity by proclaiming that we did this to ourselves. That Palestinians are not victims, that they are aggressors, that they are all Hamas. This is the literal textbook definition, that Mark Lamont Hill explained so perfectly, of collective punishment.
You believed them last time. I wonder if you’ll believe them again…
No death is good. Nobody’s death is good.
Yet white death always warrants appeal, and it’s always used to employ emotions and actions in the general public. The United States is the blueprint for Israel; there wouldn’t be one without the other. In real practical terms, since 1948, the US has given close to $260 billion to Israel (yes babes, with your taxpayer money; they can’t give you free healthcare but they can send that money to Israel!) meaning, out of all the regions in the world, that includes over the impoverished nations of the Global South, all the people impacted by war and colonization, or by the gross realities of capitalism and US’ disdain for fair trade… before all of them, Israel gets most of US Aid.
Why? Well, Noam Chomsky will tell you that it’s to protect political interests but also to protect the white supremacist, Christian Zionist agenda. There’s also this great video explaining that there has been a lot of money spent by European nations and America to systematically destabilize the Muslim world for the last few decades. Ever since the Crusades, in fact, Islam has been an extremely threatening reality to the Christian imagination. What better way to destroy a people than to character-assassinate their very identity, so that no one will sympathize with them or their cause… it’s quite ingenious how evil and demented it is, really.
Yet, historically, Jews were persecuted by the Christians extensively, while in Islam and within the Muslim societies, Jews were quite integrated within culture and society during the Golden Age of Islam, which lasted for about 800 years. This was a time of extreme enlightenment, ironically while Europe was in the dark ages (bloop!) so it says a lot about how advanced Muslims were in every part of society, that they were leaders in science, mathematics, astrology and even architecture. In a comprehensive essay by Mark R. Cohen entitled: “The “Golden Age” of Jewish-Muslim Relations: Myth and Reality” he writes, “The original and long-lasting ethnic and religious pluralism of Islamic society encouraged a certain tolerance of diversity. The diffusion of hostility among two and in many places three “infidel” religions helped mitigate the Jews’ “otherness” and prevent the emergence of the irrational hatred we call anti-Semitism.”
I have always known, because I have always been told through scripture, that Christians and Jews were sacred. The anti-Semitism being weaponized by Hamas or even other Muslim groups is quite a modern phenomenon, that I actually believe is a direct result of the creation of Israel. As I said in this post, “Quite simply, Hamas would not need to exist or need to resist anything if people weren’t being violently occupied” and this is something that needs to be understood on total terms. Before the existence of Israel, anti-Semitism was not common in Muslim societies, it’s not to say it didn’t exist, but rather it wasn’t a wildly circulated sentiment, because of this preconceived protection of the Jewish identity enfolded into Islam. Almost every colonizer — the British, the French, Americans, has hated and maligned the Muslims. The Arab world has distinctly felt the wrath of American forces since the Cold War, after they bombed Japan and Vietnam with cruel and inhumane methods, they found a new target. Israel, on the other end, has been granted full protection on everything by the Americans. It’s also garnered a chance to civilize and create a society that might be a haven for Israelis, while beside it, the entire Middle East has been systematically overturned and overrun in the last fifty years. Do you think that’s a coincidence?
I don’t, and in fact, we have a lot of information that proves that both Muslims and Jews are being used as pawns in a larger sick, racist white supremacist war-mongering fantasy. They rely on our hatred of each other, remember that. To resist is to see things more clearly.
We are being fed the display of anti-Semitism (which is worldwide, btw, sadly it’s not niche) fuelled by Hamas as a reason to eradicate Palestinians off the map. As one of my besties, Gleb, a radical anti-Zionist Jew, wrote in their stories, “The story of any of this being naturally occurring is meant to obscure the occupation as THE source of ALL of the violence we’re watching unfold.” In the Jewish Currents, Raz Segal wrote yesterday, “The assault on Gaza can also be understood in other terms: as a textbook case of genocide unfolding in front of our eyes. I say this as a scholar of genocide, who has spent many years writing about Israeli mass violence against Palestinians. I have written about settler colonialism and Jewish supremacy in Israel, the distortion of the Holocaust to boost the Israeli arms industry, the weaponization of antisemitism accusations to justify Israeli violence against Palestinians, and the racist regime of Israeli apartheid.”
For all the people advocating for non-violent protest — you should know that there are decades of non-violent movements in Palestine that have led to zero shifts in the Israeli government’s policies, and it’s almost like these attempts have only emboldened them to act with more malice.
There’s Boycotts Divestments Sanctions, which calls for boycotting Israel in every way, using methods that were similarly utilized against apartheid in South Africa, bleeding money from the state so it capitulated to justice. Yet, this isn’t what’s happened with Israel, as it’s systematically accused BDS, a non-violent form of protest, as racist. The ADL says that the movement is “aimed at delegitimizing and pressuring Israel, through the diplomatic, financial, professional, academic and cultural isolation of Israel, Israeli individuals, Israeli institutions, and, increasingly, Jews who support Israel’s right to exist.” And, yes, all of this is true…but that’s kind of the whole point of boycotts, divestments, and sanctions??? Instead of answering to its crimes, Israel reverts the narrative, buckling down on its right to exist. Without ever considering that it should answer for itself… as all nations are required to. The hubris and denial are truly wild to me and reveal so much of the shadow that exists in the Israeli conception of statehood. Especially in light of the Holocaust, the fact that Israel is given full allowance to wreak havoc on the Palestinians… imagine if the rhetoric was reversed and fear was instead used to transmute compassion. Imagine if people could truly heal and were able to see how fear can be a powerful energy to alchemize. Imagine if Israelis could treat Palestinians as equals… because maybe then they’d feel like equals, too.
The irony is that it never has been a conversation about the right to exist or not, it’s quite literally always been… can things just be fair? And yes, Israelis use that as a tactic, consistently, and have done to cloud the realities of occupation. As a nation, it exists with total impunity because for many decades it has ignored all critique from the international community, including the United Nations which has consistently told Israel of its war crimes.
Funny that all of you don’t see this as terrorism, your selective outrage is being noted.
Can the land be shared and respected, not thrown around like it’s cheap liquor? The bar is so low, actually, and it’s sad how so many of you are not understanding this. The abuser/victim reality is so apparent, while a nation uses largescale gaslighting in order to obfuscate what’s really happening, which is genocide. Why is it that when Palestinians ask for rights, Israelis feel so threatened? Is it, perhaps, that the existence of the Palestinian is a daily reminder of occupation? From a purely trauma standpoint, this is quite an interesting form of mass disillusionment we are seeing in the Israeli public, perhaps because the very realities of existence in Israel come with such a disassociative form of existence and aggression just to maintain a right to exist… but doesn’t that sound distinctly American?
The Great March of Return, which happened between 2018-2019, was another example of non-violence, where tens of thousands of people protested peacefully every day for months, only to be shot down and attacked by the Israeli military. At the time Amnesty International reported, “The organizers of the “Great March of Return” have repeatedly stated that the protests are intended to be peaceful. Despite this, the Israeli army reinforced its forces – deploying tanks, military vehicles, and soldiers, including snipers, along the Gaza/Israel fence – and gave orders to shoot anyone within several hundred meters of the fence.” Al Jazeera reported, “Israeli snipers opened fire at protesters during the demonstrations, killing 266 people and injuring almost 30,000 others in one year, according to Gaza’s health ministry.” Let me ask you, if you’ve been a person spinning peace, are you asking Israel to be non-violent too?
Interesting that the Israeli snipers killed almost the same amount of people who were killed this week at a music festival by Hamas, but despite the entire international community’s condemnation of the militant group this weekend, most of us didn’t hear about the Great March of Return, and therefore the murders of Palestinian civilians. 30,000 people were injured. Do you know that this is also a military tactic that’s been written about, that’s specific to Israel? In the book The Right To Maim by Jasbir Puar, she speaks about how the Israeli state relies on liberal frameworks of disability to obscure and enable the mass debilitation of Palestinian bodies. A disabled population is easier to control, and exterminate, right? The Israeli tactics of dehumanization are truly at another level.
Recently, one of my favorite writers, Arundhati Roy, wrote about the indigenous group the Adivasis in India, “In their struggle to liberate the peasants, the advasis, the workers, we see a reflection of the struggle in Palestine against settler-colonial domination. We also see that for most oppressed, non-violence yields nothing - because the state has already decided that their survival is unimportant.”
Yet the way victimhood is being weaponized by the Israeli state right now, while it continues to actively commit genocide, is something that is deeply disturbing to witness and something that needs to be societally unpacked. Unrelated, I see a lot of Jewish leftists grappling with the idea of a homeland, and I love the anti-Zionist Jewish writer Sim Kern who unpacks this really well. Something I’ve learned in trauma healing is that victims can quite often become narcissists. In a bid to protect the self from harm, one course corrects and becomes fixated on the self and survival… but that’s a trauma response. Just because it feels scary, and there’s a looming fear of threat, it doesn’t mean it’s a singular experience for you, and you alone. Death is something we must all face, and all come to terms with.
In this video, the late great Michael Brooks explains that Israel (because of America) has largely existed without impunity. This fear of “Never Again,” while countless people die around the world, in the thousands and millions, and this consistent obsessiveness to only protect Jewish life against all others is a frightening form of supremacy. Especially when it’s being espoused by one of the most powerful nations on the planet. How do the oppressed become oppressors in less than a decade? By oppressing. Yet to not call this into question, to unitarily claim a right to statehood is perhaps understandable, given the tragedy of the Holocaust, but it doesn’t mean that it’s fair or even honest, when what is happening in Gaza is criminal.
This video by BT Newsroom and Kei Pritsker really shows the foundations of the ethno-fascistic policies spawned by Israel historically to now and details the perspective that we are so rarely shown, the one that reveals a heavily militarized society that is encouraged to feel aggressive. Just a note, that 10,000 assault rifles were handed out to settlers yesterday to hunt the Palestinian population down. They’ve been fed extremely Islamophobic and anti-Arab sentiments for decades so of course they feel entitled to the annihilation of the Palestinians.
Yet, people’s denial and their deep incapacity to be accountable has been shocking. I have been met with a relentlessness attack by Jewish and Israeli folks in my comments and my DMS on IG, they’re all there if you’d like to read, and I am not the only one. My friend ShiShi Rose, a queer Black woman, who is a doula and an organizer, has been relentlessly attacked. I’ve witnessed people blatantly claim to others they’re not sure why they “fought for BLM”—which is so flat, the anti-Blackness is dangerous and shows what level of denial exists right now. I’m also hearing about multiple people being fired from their jobs, including someone who was fired from Netflix because they wrote “Free Palestine” in their Slack channel. Why is it that France and Germany, two of the most notoriously anti-Semitic nations, are banning pro-Palestinian protests? According to Suella Braverman, the UK home secretary, waving Palestinian flags and using popular pro-Palestine slogans could be illegal under the Public Order Act in a letter to police chiefs in England and Wales on Tuesday. Samira Nasr, the first Black EIC of Harper’s Bazaar, had to formally apologize for posting that cutting off power to 2.2 million was the most “inhuman thing I’ve ever seen.”Thats all she wrote, she’s being threatened with resignation. Does this feel normal or even morally right to you?
As a social scientist, I know that I have regularly been stopped from asking those penetrating questions about Israel. The Israeli-American poet and writer Shira Ehrlichman, who is also a friend, shared a few days ago on Instagram, about their own struggles to question Israel at home due to their parents’ persistence against their questioning, and though our experiences are different, as a Muslim, throughout my life, both in writing or artist spaces, I have been met with a projection of my naivety if I brought up Palestine. Almost as if I couldn’t dare know what I was saying — even though I went to school to be a human rights lawyer — and I still regularly notice others’ discomfort to speak neutrally about the plight of the Palestinians. Throughout the years, I’ve wondered why. Maybe because I think what whiteness does is that it removes you of complicity and accountability. Why is that a white woman is such a symbol of white supremacy? It’s because she weaponizes her victimhood.
It’s been extremely alarming to watch the liberal gymnastics at play here in the defense of Israel. Accounts like Fuck Jerry are creating viral fake news, using the falsified information of forty beheaded babies, and the raping of women when neither of these stories have been verified. Yet, that didn’t stop Biden in his press conference to falsely declare (so lie…) that he’d seen images of these babies a few days ago… which the White House later backtracked, verifying the President had in fact, not seen confirmation of the beheaded babies (I’m actually screaming!) The Intercept confirmed that Oren Ziv (an Israeli journalist) also noted that he had not seen evidence of the beheaded babies. Other reporters on the ground said that an Israeli soldier told a BBC journalist that “some of the dead had been beheaded,” while at least two other journalists later deleted tweets referencing the reports.”
As Hanif Aburraqib wrote articulately in response to The Los Angeles Times’ own refraction of this blunder, “Information moves too quickly, people process and move on to the next hit of information — retractions protect the paper itself, but the lie has already traveled. This doesn’t service the public (some of whom, it seemed to me, were a bit too eager for these stories to be true.”
Just earlier this year, NPR wrote 20 years on, remembering the mess of misinformation that propelled the Iraq War, highlighting the work of Judith Miller “who covered Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction program both before and after the 2003 invasion, which was later discovered to have been based on inaccurate information from the intelligence community.” Miller worked at The New York Times' Washington bureau before joining Fox News in 2008, and the biggest reason the US invaded Iraq, was because of allegations of “weapons of mass destruction,” only to find out that it wasn’t real, and that people, like Miller, used this rhetoric to stoke the war. Mohammed El Kurd has also been writing, Tweeting and speaking about the similarities between the dehumanizing tactics used by the Americans in Iraq and what they’re doing with Palestinian coverage as we speak.
You may be asking — well rape is a tool used in wartime, what makes you think that Hamas isn’t raping women? Firstly, if Hamas militants were raping women we would know about it. You best believe they would use this to turn the entire international community against Palestinians, which is one of the reasons Hamas wouldn’t do it. They understand optics. Hamas, as evil as it might seem, it is still a liberation group that has tactics, they have demands. Do you understand they’re trying to free political prisoners? That’s why they took the hostages. They are martyrs for liberation, who are antagonizers who freed themselves from the largest open-air prison. They are not in the earthly realm, they are already dead, and they know that. Having studied a lot about Muslim terrorists, one thing I know for sure is that think whatever you want of them, but what they want is God’s salvation. It doesn’t mean it’s good or right, but consider how dire their circumstances must be if the only way out is this route.
I’m not here to justify Hamas, but I am here to explain a little bit more of their psychology when most of the world’s most powerful people and media outlets are invested in their monstrosity. If you can justify every white serial killer and mass murderer in America (so all the US presidents hehe) you should try harder to understand why oppressed people would ever want to fight back.
As the Palestinian ambassador to the UK, Husam Zomlot said recently on the BBC, why is it always on the Palestinians to condemn themselves, when it is they who are continuously being stripped of their humanity? Who will condemn Israel for this? Will you? Will you stand up for truth and justice?
Also, the fact that it’s coming out now that Hamas was funded by Israel; just as the Taliban and Al Qaeda were funded and bolstered by America… but all three organizations backfired. I mean… what more evidence do you need of this immoral construction? Ever since I was a child, because of the film Ever After, I have been obsessed with this Thomas More quote from Utopia: “For if you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this, but that you first make thieves and then punish them.”
I have so much more to say, but this is already dense and long. My commitment now is to Palestine and the truth. It’s clear that many of you don’t even view Palestinians as people, so I will be writing about this consistently to share what I know. I will be back soon for more writing more history more thoughts and more resources. Until then, please educate yourself widely about this situation. Don’t let them get away with genocide. That blood will be on your hands.
From the River to the Sea, Free Palestine.
October 15th, 2023
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