It is a truth universally acknowledged, that Israel loves to shout “antisemitism” whenever it’s criticized, especially when its discrimination against Palestinians is made obvious. Based on Israel’s logic, every Palestinian who opposes the Jewish state must be a racist, an antisemite and whatever other word Israel wants to use to deflect from its war crimes. But the Nakba has not been so easily forgotten and it continues on every day, from Israel’s forced occupation of the West Bank to East Jerusalem to Gaza.
When we talk about Israel, we tend to talk about the Jewish people. We talk about their struggles, about the millions, and still counting, of lives lost in the Holocaust and their persecution in both the Christian and Islamic worlds. However, no country should be safe from criticism. We can talk about Saudi Arabia, Egypt, China, India, Sudan and even the United States when it comes to human rights violations. What makes Israel think that it should be treated any differently? Is it because it’s home to a historically discriminated group? Most likely, but at what costs? You don’t just dispossess a land of its indigenous people to increase the favorability of another. Of course, the Jewish people have a historic connection to what is now Israel, but so do the millions of Palestinians who were there before the British, the Nakba and the modern-day Israelis.
It’s a historical fact that Israel is a product of colonization. What else would you call the mass exodus of at least 750,000 Arabs from Palestine? Or how about the dozens of laws that favor Israeli Jews over Palestinian citizens? It is not just about being Jewish.The whole conflict is about how Palestinians’ voices are silenced because governments choose to give in to the fear that they will be called something that they are not. It’s about time we make room to tell the story of the persecution of the Arabs in that same land that is no bigger than New Jersey.
Who spoke for the persecuted exiled masses who had nowhere else to go but refugee camps? As far as I can tell, governments like the United States don’t even recognize the thousands of Palestinians killed unjustifiably in less than 50 years. And although 138 out of 193 United Nations members have recognized Palestine, most of the world’s leading powers don’t. Even still, words mean little to people who have heard the same empty promises over and over again. They have seen their country shrink as Israel expands. Families face eviction, poverty, and a deteriorating health system. Today, occupied Palestine is behind on COVID-19 vaccinations. Why? Israel. The problem is evident, yet recognizing it is ever more difficult.
Palestinians have a right to fight back. Israel has an apartheid regime and just like it wants to shout “antisemitism,” Palestine will rightly shout out anti-Arabism. But most critics of Palestine will put feelings over facts. They’ll try to make you believe that any opposition of Israel is antisemitic or that the BDS movement is meant to promote that same ideology. The truth is that there is a clear difference between being wrong and not liking what someone has to say. Zionists can keep using all of their strawman arguments to try and silence Palestine, but eventually, they’ll run out of reasons to keep defending Israel. I mean, you can’t exactly justify the very fact that Israeli forces have killed Palestinian children. There were killings in December and January; two young Palestinian boys were detained for riding their bicycles and, on Wednesday, five children were arrested while picking plants. Really? Come on.
We can either watch Palestine disappear completely or we can do something about it. So, let’s end Israel’s occupation and colonization, recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.