the palestinian peril

Where does one even begin?

Most of us can agree that our home is our sanctuary. A couple of square inches that we can find solace in, sheltered from all evil and harm that attempt to claw at us with their talons in the outside world. It’s a dome, a shield that reassures us of our safety, no matter how temporary.

However, given the current state of things, Palestinians cannot say the same for the force that has taken the hinges off their doors and demand they surrender their homes. I suppose a suitable place to start would be Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood in the occupied East Jerusalem. Now, I say ‘occupied’ as a euphemism for ‘stolen’ because while East Jerusalem is legally Palestinian land, Israeli settlers have chosen to ignore the fact and illegally occupy the area. Even the United Nations’ security council has demanded Israel to retreat from East Jerusalem, knowing that Israel has no legitimate claim to the land.

Israeli settlers have been filing lawsuits to evict Palestinian families so they can gain control of the geography since the 1970s. Loopholes in the Israeli court of law have been taken advantage of to put this plan in motion. To exacerbate the situation, these Israeli settlers are under the protection of the Israeli military and government, meaning any retaliation from Palestinians will be met with loaded weapons and ruthless brutality. The Israeli Supreme Court had ruled that six Palestinian families were to leave Sheikh Jarrah by May, with an additional seven more families in August. As a result, an estimated 550 Palestinians stand to be dispossessed. While many families are standing ground to defend their homes by submitting proper appeals to the Israeli court, most appeals will be struck down due to political bias. As if that strike to the face wasn’t enough, Palestinians are expected to pay $20,000 for the settlers’ legal fees.

One of the worst parts of this fiasco is that Israeli settlers are unapologetically broadcasting their plans. They have no intentions of keeping this string of colonization quiet. Videos uploaded on social media depict Israeli settlers proclaiming Palestinian homes as their own and boasting about how they are going to ransack every house and every neighborhood until Palestinians have left to make space for them. There is no method the Israeli settlers will not exhaust to chase the Palestinians away from Palestinian land.

The Israeli government’s settler-colonization can be dated as far back as 1948 when Zionist terrorist groups rose in numbers and decided it was justifiable to ethnically cleanse hundreds of Palestinian towns and villages, sacrificing lives in the process. In simpler words, the Israeli government has been trying to replace the native population of Palestinians with a new group of Israelis.

This isn’t merely a Palestinian cause. It is so much bigger than that. Speaking up for Palestinians is condemning settler colonization, which many countries have unfortunately been victims of. Plus, more crimes are being committed such as the Israeli police attacking peaceful protests by Palestinians, as well as law enforcement arresting young Palestinians. Stun grenades have been thrown into crowds of Palestinians who were looking to break their fast during Ramadan, no less.

Men or women, old or young: none are excused from the brutality of the Israeli forces. On the 5th, Saeed Odeh (16) was with his friend in his home village of Udalah, simply walking, not deliberately causing harm. Little did Saeed know he would never live to stroll another day around Udalah, as Israeli soldiers opened fire at him without cause. Once Saeed had fallen, his friend’s attempt to aid him was cut short by yet another Israeli bullet. Fortunately for Saeed’s friend, the bullet only wounded him, though the same cannot be said for Saeed, who passed away on the spot because Israeli soldiers proceeded to disrupt a Palestinian ambulance from getting to him.

As if that wasn’t enough disrespect during the Muslim holy month, Israeli forces continued to attack the Al Aqsa mosque filled with worshippers. The military showed up with rubber bullets, stun grenades, and the hardened intention to wound. Similar to what had happened to Saeed, ambulances and medics were barred from entering the premises to save the injured.

Photo from Reuters

The situation has escalated in direness to the point where families are gathered in one room to gain shut-eye at night so that if they were to die, they would do so together, and no one would have to live with the loss of family. When families have to do that, when kids can’t walk freely without fear of getting shot, when the military feels the need to confront children with weapons, you know the cogs of humanity are no longer turning.

The UN has commented: “Forced evictions are a key factor in creating a coercive environment that may lead to forcible transfer, which is prohibited by the Fourth Geneva Convention and is a grave breach of the Convention,” condemning the actions of the Israeli government. However, while the UN human rights office has urged Israel to cease their inhumane evictions, there is much talk and little walk.

I will not drone on about the numerous firings and disruptions of peaceful Palestinians carried out by the boundless and codeless Israeli army. We have all seen too much of it on social media to know that at this moment, there may very well be another threat looming over Palestinian skies.

Ahmad Abu Sbitan (11) was arrested because the Israeli police accused him of throwing a stone at them. © Majd Gaith

Now, let’s talk about media coverage (excluding social media narratives). Journalism offices in Gaza have been bombed in an Israeli effort to control the rhetoric. Censorship in the face of state-sanctioned violence and colonialism is nothing new. Western news titles are downplaying the situation by using words that would have less of an impact on newsreaders (such as ‘conflict’, ‘clash’, or simply stating that Palestinians have died but discarding the fact that they died at the hands of the Israeli army).

Don’t be fooled by the headlines; this isn’t a ‘religious conflict’. It pains me to say that calling it a ‘religious conflict’ is being generous and sugarcoating the reality that is a nation embroiled in apartheid, settler-colonialism, and ethnic cleansing. It is not Jews versus Muslims because those terms refer to every person on Earth who belongs to those religious groups. Generalizing the situation would be incorrect; in fact, the confusion of this being a religious conflict has led to a rise in antisemitism, which has not helped solve any problems. The Israeli government does not represent the global Jewish population; we cannot pin an entire religious group to the wall for the actions of a cluster of outliers.

It is an Israeli colonization, ethnic cleansing, military occupation, and apartheid—not a Jewish one.

The media is wrong to paint this as a clash of religions when it is so much bigger than that. Minimizing the scale of things derails focus from the underlying issue and prevents Palestinians from making their voices heard. This is so much bigger than any of us when you allow the words of MLK to ring through: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. An evil we do not crush in one place will eventually be mirrored by another; you barely have to look far and wide for an example: murders of members of the Black community, hate crimes against Asians, the coup d’etat in Myanmar, etc.

For Western countries that advocate free speech above all else, this has irony plastered all over it, but it’s not something that cannot be explained. The Israeli force is backed dominantly by United States taxpayer dollars and additionally reinforced by the fatal silence of countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and France, all of whom are keen to recognize Israel as a state over Palestine. Among many others, these are colonial powers that have ‘set the blueprint’ for what is happening today. Human history shows us our fascination with taking over territory by force as an assertion of power and display of domination, without regard for the land’s natives’ cultures and practices. These countries are either vocally supporting Israel or staying silent because to act otherwise would be to agree that their histories of colonization were wrong and inhumane, thus paving way for discussions of reparations and jurisdiction.

In fact, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted a tweet just days ago thanking several countries for standing with his country and “supporting our right to self defense against terrorist attacks”. I will refrain from pointing out the poor choice of words in the PM’s tweet, given the context of the situation.

Taken from Twitter.

Now, I want to dive specifically into the United States’ role in this because they are the one country that is prominently voicing out support for Israel. Five days before Hamas (a Palestinian militant organization) had launched rockets toward Israel as a response to the Al-Aqsa catastrophe, the Biden administration had approved a $735 million weapon sale to Israel.

At this point, I have to ask: America, what the hell are you thinking? Americans at home are combating homelessness and barely getting by with the minimum wage, Black Americans are still locked in a fight against police brutality and systemic racism, Asian-Americans still live in fear of being assaulted on the streets and in workplaces. There is so much that can be ameliorated with that $735 million, but the administration has decided it would be more worthwhile to support the Israeli government, to uphold their previous practice of colonization. By agreeing to this weapons sale, the United States is giving Israel the green light to carry on with their inhumane cleansing and occupation, putting millions of Palestinian lives at risk, and ignoring the cries for help back home.

This forbodes that the fight between Israelis and Palestinians will not be called to a ceasefire anytime soon. Not to mention, it isn’t even a fair fight; Israelis have U.S.-manufactured armory while Palestinians are akin to bringing knives to a gunfight.

It is, however, comforting to know that many empathize with the Palestinian cause. According to Al Jazeera, the masses from Iraq, Qatar, Spain, Lebanon, and more have taken to the streets proudly waving Palestinian flags in solidarity. Despite their country’s tainted history of colonization, citizens from the U.S., UK, Canada, and France have also demonstrated to demand a ceasefire over the Gaza Strip, some even marching to their local Israeli embassies to make themselves loud and clear, regardless of local law enforcement’s attempts to disperse crowds and quell the criticisms against Israel.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is one of the first to call for unity among Muslim countries to back Palestine, commenting: “The attacks and aggressions of the Zionist regime against the Palestinian people and Gaza must be stopped immediately and we must not allow these oppressed people to be oppressed anymore.”

I take pride in knowing that Malaysia has been playing her role in supporting Palestine; leaders of Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei have come together to unite more countries in condemning Israel and providing help to Palestine. These three countries’ efforts to shed light on Palestinian plight have not been in vain, as they paved way for a United Nations General Assembly session held on May 20. To quote FMT directly: “The effectiveness of the pressure exerted by Malaysia was also acknowledged by the president of the Palestinian Cultural Association of Malaysia, who stated that Malaysians have succeeded in changing the international community’s view of Israel.”

Let it be said: the decision of a government does not always represent the wishes of its people; and when that happens, it is our duty as citizens to make sure they hear us. March with posters and chant with banners; there is always a tipping point where they have no choice but to listen to our words.

The Israeli–Palestinian conflict has been going on for decades now and does not seem like it would exhale its last breath anytime soon. Compared to events that have happened in the past twelve months that consisted of a ‘us vs. them battle’, this is a more rogue and untamed body of water to navigate. ­

I have observed that in my social media circle, only a small percentage of people are willing to take a firm stance on the matter and make public their dissents. Just as television host Trevor Noah has explained it, it’s difficult to grasp who’s right and who’s wrong in this long-standing conflict since the answer wavers depending on when you start measuring.

There is no correct way to broach the topic and whatever your comment is, somebody else will have a rebuttal ready at hand. I think this Twitter post by Jameela Jamil explains it thoroughly. However, receiving backlashes and criticism (no matter from an educational intent or malevolence) should never be an obstacle in our standing for what is just. I know some of us were raised being told “If you see trouble, run in the opposite direction”; but this isn’t something we can cast an oblivion spell to.

Taken from Jamil’s Twitter.

By allowing or enabling the Israeli government to continue with their atrocities toward Palestinians, we open the gateway for such possibility to happen to any one of our own countries. Silence has evolved to cost lives.

One thing is clear: We need not decide who to concretely vilify in the Israeli-Palestinian saga right now, but we have to free Palestine. As bleak as the situation is, I believe each of us is capable of knowing that taking away somebody’s home that you were not titled to, to begin with, is unscrupulous, especially when that act is repeated to cover whole neighborhoods.

Free Palestine. Two words easier said than done, but the possibility of it exists if enough people speak up and reach out to their governments. If you stay silent on this matter, you are no better than the doers of evil.

With the general media desensitizing the debacle, social media is the only outlet where Palestinians have been able to truthfully display the unspeakable that happens on their side of the screen. With Israel attempting to sever Palestinian communication with the outside world so they can twist the story however they please, the responsibility falls on us to amplify Palestinian voices.

You don’t have to be Palestinian or Muslim to help the cause, you just have to be human enough. Summon that anger and unjust that had burned within you when members of the Black and Asian communities were being mistreated, oppressed, and murdered. Change isn’t a one-man show; it’s a fire that is lit by one and passed on to the rest. You just have to be willing to hold the torch.

From the land to the sea, Palestine will be free.

21/5/21 UPDATE: Egypt has brokered a “mutual and simultaneous” ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, and Gazans have taken to the streets to celebrate this. However, a Hamas official told media groups that they still have their finger on the trigger, indicating the group’s readiness to retaliate should there be another escalation. As Gaza commences its rebuilding, it’s important to know that ‘ceasefire’ is simply a temporary suspension of the fight, and not a reliable long-term solution. This truce does not mean Palestinians get to keep their home or that the Israeli government has thrown in the towel to ethnically cleanse neighborhoods. We are too far from justice to stop just now.

How You Can Help

Spread the word, share the news, and spark the conversations. Utilize social media to your power and wield your platform for good. While you may be under the impression that sharing or retweeting posts do little to contribute to the cause, recall how you came to learn of what’s happening in the first place, and I am willing to bet it on Instagram activism accounts and Twitter’s trending hashtags.

Don’t be influenced by the media’s choice of words. Make sure you are using accurate terms like ‘colonialism’, ‘apartheid’, ‘human rights violation’, and ‘ethnic cleansing’.

We know that Israeli occupation and violence will only come to a halt when the cost becomes too much to shoulder. The easiest way to apply this pressure is through strategic boycotts and sanctions, which can very well strain Israeli finances. Without supplies and resources, the Israelis will be forced to ceasefire sooner or later. BDS has curated a list of brands and companies to boycott, and you can also use their search function to better understand how you can help.



  • @eye.on.palestine
  • @landpalestine
  • @letstalkpalestine
  • @theimeu
  • @jewishvoiceforpeace
  • @muna.kurd15
  • @mohammedelkurd
  • @realbassemeid
  • @mariambarghouti
  • @meera_adnan
  • @palestinianyouthmovement

6. BOOKS (source)

  • Palestine: A Four Thousand Year History by Nur Masalha
  • The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ilan Pappé
  • The Question of Palestine by Edward Said
  • The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine by Rashid Khalidi
  • Ten Myths About Israel by Ilan Pappé
  • Unfree in Palestine by Nadia Abu-Zahra And Adah Kay
  • Palestinian Identity by Rashid Khalidi
  • The Origins of Palestinian Nationalism by Muhammad Muslih
  • Justice for Some by Noura Erakat
  • The Palestine Nakba by Nur Masalha