I have anxiety in my heart tonight. I have friends in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel, Palestinians and Israeli Jews, and I am truly fearing for them. Several of them have reported explosions close to their homes. Buildings and entire blocks have been flattened in Gaza, rockets have fallen in Tel Aviv, and rightwing Israeli mobs are terrorizing Palestinians at Al Aqsa Mosque. And this feels like the build up of something big. Like it felt before the 2014 assault on Gaza. I pray this isn’t so, but it is difficult to ignore the signs.
Over the next few days or weeks we will hear familiar things from the corporate media. Things that will obfuscate the conditions that led to this recent escalation. It will once again be presented as if it is a conflict between equals and that Israel is merely responding to terrorism. The words occupation, apartheid, ethnic cleansing and dispossession will likely not be mentioned.
But the truth is that the two sides are not equal. They never have been. One is a state with an army, navy, air force and nuclear weapons. It uses tanks, drones, white phosphorus and sophisticated technology to terrorize and obliterate targets. It has deliberately targeted schools, hospitals, shelters and mosques. The other is disconnected and resists with stones, some rockets and some balloons that are on fire. It does not possess the technology to target anything specifically. One is occupying and moving people out of their homes and has done so for the last 70 years. the other is cordoned off from other members of their community, forced to take separate roads and have different license plates on their cars, and are prevented from accessing their land. It is what amounts to the bantustans of apartheid South Africa. One enjoys full support from the most powerful countries on the planet, the US, Canada, the EU, Australia. The other is routinely ignored, blamed or humiliated by the mainstream press and politicians.
As someone who has been involved in Palestinian solidarity for most of my adult life I may understand the details and nuances of this issue better than most westerners, but I think there are things every person of conscience can comprehend:
-Palestinian families should not be thrown out of their homes to make way for other families based on ethno-religious status. This is what is happening right now in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem.
-Palestinian homes should not be demolished by the state simply because they do not come from a specific ethno-religious group.
-Entire populations should not be kept in an open air prison where food, medicine and the movement of people is severely restricted. This is Gaza.
-Palestinian fishermen and farmers should not be fired on when they are out at sea or in their fields. Israel Defense Forces routinely do this off the Gaza Strip.
-Palestinian workers and travelers should not have to go through endless and humiliating checkpoints every time they leave their homes to get bread, or flowers, or medicine, or to go to work, or to visit a friend or family.
-Entire communities should not be collectively punished for the alleged infractions of a few. This has been the way the IDF has operated for years in Gaza and the occupied West Bank.
-Refugees from the Nakba (Catastrophe), where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forcibly expelled from their country should be allowed to return to their homes. Many of them still possess the keys to their houses, that are now occupied by Israeli citizens.
-There shouldn’t be two different systems of justice for two segments of the population, one military for the Palestinians and one civilian for Jewish Israelis. This is how it is in the occupied West Bank where Palestinians face military tribunals instead of civil courts like their Jewish Israeli counterparts. It is also an occupation system where many Palestinian chidlren are whisked away in the middle of the night to unknown military detention centres (prisons).
This injustice has been allowed to fester for far too long. And far too many have suffered and perished thanks to the intransigence of the powerful. We can move to protest and prevent another bloodbath but we must move quickly. Palestinians and many Jews, both in Israel and throughout the world, have united in solidarity to say enough is enough. It is time for all people of conscience to join them. It is time for apartheid to end!
If you would like to learn more and how to be an ally for a just peace, I encourage you to start with a visit Jewish Voice for Peace, B’Tselem, BDS and We Are Not Numbers.
Kenn Orphan May 2021
*Title photo is Palestinian women protesting a US peace plan proposal in the centre of Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on 30 January 2020 (AFP)
As an independent writer and artist Kenn Orphan depends on donations and commissions. If you would like to support his work and this blog you can do so via PayPal. Simply click here: DONATE
And thank you for your support and appreciation!