Israeli aggression against Palestinians is rooted in fear: the fear that Palestinians have not surrendered their land, their identities, or the will to resist.
Over 60 Palestinians killed in a single city within hours, all as they protest for their right of return.
For years Palestinians have not even had the luxury of grieving, because as one day passes the next brings another misery.
Still, If we look at Gaza and Palestine beyond the ongoing blood and slaughter, we can see something beautiful and can even draw lessons from it.
Gaza and Palestine as a whole is showing the world that where there is oppression, there are people daring to say, "we can be better".
What the conversation around Gaza and Palestine should revolve around isn’t just the horror and killing, but the context of how and why Palestinians are being sniped down as they protest for the simple demand of being able to return home.
This year marks 70 years of an ongoing project to colonise Palestine. Since 1948, Israel has devised strategies that serve its project of calling the entirety of historic Palestine, Israel. It has used the contours of law to legitimise its violence, it has physically erected cement walls to divide Palestinians, besieged an entire city, and forcibly displaced hundreds of thousands turning them into refugees scattered around the globe.
The reason we witnessed a massacre in Gaza, is because Israel has always attacked Palestinians for their resistance and for clinging on to the right of return.
It is not an isolated massacre on a single day.
We must take into account the days before, the years that have allowed this to happen - and it has been happening. Palestine today, should compel us all to understand the urgency of holding Israel accountable. If we do not, the message we send is clear: racism and supremacy are okay.
Palestinians, naturally, and even understandably, threaten Israel. Any oppressor that has built their legacy on the backs of others will always fear revolt and resistance. There is no oppressor that simply ceased their exploitation, it was always ended through pressure for accountability and by the resistance of the oppressed.
The ideal situation for an oppressor is having a passive population to do with it as they please, which is why Palestinian protests are so frightening for Israel.
It is indeed trying to defend itself and preserve its oppression, even if it means getting so violent that you snipe down dozens of unarmed people.
Just days before the protest of May 14 in Palestine, Israeli army officials were warning about one of the most violent waves to come. In reality all the violence came from the Israeli side, and indeed it was one of the most violent waves that injured thousands and killed at least 60 Palestinians.
With all of this in mind—and adding salt to the wound with the US rewarding and emboldening Israel through an audacious embassy move coinciding with our Nakba—Palestinians are realising their power and are reminded that the only path is that of resistance.
We are ridding ourselves of the inferiority complex that we cannot, and we are saying that we can, and we will.
We are being faced with slaughter on the one hand, and on the other hand the failure of international law to safeguard us. Through this we find that we only have ourselves and each other — we are in a process of unlearning what the era of Oslo tried to do: divide us into the passively oppressed.
The marches over the years are getting bigger and more nuanced, and even though media doesn’t reflect it, Palestinians are becoming less passive.
With the blows from Ahed Tamimi, to the marches in Gaza and Jerusalem refusing to die in silence, we are in a mode of desperation that is transforming to empowerment.
We are essentially moving beyond Palestine and sending a global message that no matter what face injustice wears and sells to the world, the people it oppresses are so full of life, that they will continue until their final breath.
While Palestinians don’t have any choice but to resist, the world has the choice of reinforcing and sustaining Israeli aggression, or standing against it.
There is something emancipating about Palestinian mobilisation, especially in Gaza. It’s an empowerment that transcends the romantic dreams of revolt and resistance. It is so human and so raw, that we must give it the attention it warrants and even take part.
The people of Gaza not only dreamed of shattering their oppression, but are actively realising it.
I recall the times my friends and I would look at the 8-meter-high apartheid wall unable to go beyond it and just imagine it falling to the ground. We would build an image where it turns to ash and takes with it all of the blood that has been shed over the years. In Gaza, protesters actually cut through the fence that blocked them from their ancestral homes. There is a steadfastness and vision in that single act that goes beyond words.
In the West Bank and historic Palestine, we are also in a constant protest. Every single dawn I receive an update of a dozen Palestinians being arrested in an overnight Israeli raid, so despite the lack of attention, there is confrontation.
The thousands of prisoners are testament to that. We have also adopted the completely non-violent boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, and found new ways to confront our oppression, even in the arts.
Unsurprisingly, however, the world fixates on Palestinians only when they are violent, as though always searching for the opportunity for an excuse to justify a colonisation and the global complicity that goes with it. This collusion is so detrimental that even our expression of the violence thrust against us, is stripped from us.
Exemplary of this is the fact that we can’t even say the word colonialism to explain what is happening in Palestine. It is a word that is almost taboo, thought of as something of the past. It’s a collective denial from the global community. This denial is one of the reasons Israel has been able to continue its land annexation, they aren't pressed with the urgency that a colonial endeavor necessitates.
All of this is to say that despite it all, despite the oppression and its supporters and apologists, we are still saying we are Palestinian even after 70 years of constant land annexation, mass incarceration, shootings, home demolitions and the demonisation and disfiguration of our identity.
The largest protest taking place is not just on the streets, but in the small details of our lives that will not make it to the news or any media.
It is in the fact that the Palestinian who encounters Israeli humiliation on a daily basis, is still proud of their Palestinian identity.
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