My Unavailing Opinion About Siding With Palestine

Or, An Impotent Vote Cast Against Genocide

Since I’m too lazy to add all of the footnotes and images to this article, please find the full, pretty version of my opinion piece on my Substack.

I am a non-expert with the same distance from this situation as many of you. I read and watch the same media that is baiting us to side with Israel and let the Israeli state broker justice. 

I am not a Jew, Muslim, or Christian. However, I was raised in a Christian nation that has effectively segregated me from people who were not raised like me. I have many Jewish friends and know Israelis. I have zero Muslim friends and don’t know any Palestinians. I only recently learned that before the British colonized Palestine in 1917, Arab Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived there.

My voice is authentic in the sense that it is my own. I don’t claim to speak on behalf of the oppressed. I also don’t speak from a position of power because my words cannot motivate change. We’re all opining into a void, yet it still feels important because protesting the eradication of an entire country of people is important. 

I have a lot of opinions about the recent, but far from extraordinary, violence between Hamas and the Israeli state. I am also educating myself as I think and write. While I’m not the best or most informed resource, I want to share what I learned after trying to make sense of rampant false and dangerously biased information.

On social media, a lot of grieving and terrified people are shutting down important conversations and debates by insisting that you are either pro-Israel or an antisemite. Let’s start here. Jewish people in the diaspora cannot and should not be conflated with Israel and Zionism. Seeing the Israeli state as the ultimate emblem of Jewishness promotes more antisemitism, which is why Jewish people in the United States are expressing fears of becoming targets for terrorism and hate crimes. I think these are legitimate concerns, but when someone insists it’s unethical to take the side of Palestine because it creates more danger for Jews, they are peddling unhelpful propaganda about Israeli innocence versus Palestinian guilt in order to justify genocide.

Moreover, supporting the Israeli state means conflating Hamas, the Sunni Islamicist militants governing the Gaza Strip, with the Palestinian people. This ideology, in turn, bolsters Islamophobia and violence against those perceived as Muslim.

My opposition to the Israeli state does not come from a place of antisemitism or detestation for the Israeli people. It should go without saying that you can be Jewish and against the Israeli state or that you can be a pro-Palestine, anti-Zionist Israeli. Many people identify in these ways.

I am against the Israeli state because I disagree with the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Additionally, I disagree with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he and his government label Palestinians as “human animals” and barbaric terrorists. These statements rationalize siege, genocide, and a war incorrectly imagined between Jews and Muslim fundamentalists.

In truth, radical political and religious standpoints motivate both of these factions. The difference is that Israel is a nuclear power that, since the 2006 rise of Hamas, has been sanctioned by most of the world to erect a fence around Gaza and control its border, including the movement and migration of its citizens and their already scarce access to shelter, electricity, food, and clean water. With the 1949 creation of the Gaza Strip, we’ve already long been convinced of Israeli innocence and Palestinian guilt. We’ve been primed to accept ethnic cleansing for decades.

Thus, while Hamas’ attack on Israel was unprecedented, it was hardly surprising. The ambushed Israeli citizens and their children existed on the other side of a wall where Palestinians and their children either survive another day of a brutal and illegal fifty-six-year occupation, or they don’t. It’s worth noting, too, that fifty percent of Gaza’s population is children, totaling one million.

After Hamas’ invasion, the media showed us the Israeli victims. We placed ourselves in their shoes, imagining the trauma of seeing our children shot and the fear of playing dead under a truck at a music festival. In this way, we forgot or neglected longstanding Palestinian victims of the Israeli state. We were tricked into conditional empathy, finding it harder to relate to and sympathize with the people who are not “us” or our allies.

Hamas’ attack on Israel should signal that a group of people have been pushed to the brink of desperation and the ability to survive. Instead of offering them help, though, we are going to agree that these “beasts” are a problem and global threat. We are going to sadly bow our heads as they are exterminated. For this reason, I feel compelled to take the side of Palestine.

It’s also important to acknowledge the role the United States plays in allowing injustice to flourish in the Gaza Strip, culminating with President Joe Biden’s support of Israel. By offering Israel military assistance, Biden will surely make a bad situation worse and implicate United States citizens in supporting mass atrocity.

I want to acknowledge further that I live and pay taxes in an imperial union of states that is no stranger to waging war on the Arab world. I vote after listening to bipartisan political debates through which either a Democrat or a Republican will win important political seats that impact national and global politics. We perceive these two groups to be in constant conflict. Yet, whoever you vote for will build a wall at the border with Mexico, keep people imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, meekly condemn Putin, and allow the rich to get richer while the poor get poorer.

I  live on occupied land that has never belonged to me. My country imprisons, terrorizes, and kills people of color and members of the queer community who are citizens by name but not fully recognized or protected as citizens in practice. I am also a pseudo-citizen as a woman in a culture that condones violence against women and who is not guaranteed full and safe reproductive health care, including abortion. 

From this standpoint, I offer an impotent personal statement, sharing with other people who have no power how I deplore and do not consent to the dehumanization of Palestinians and their ethnic cleansing.

For less politics and more art, find my publications here.

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