I wasn’t going to write about the war in Gaza.
The last time I wrote about Israel and Palestine, people were calling me an antisemite and a terrorist-sympathizer on social media. I often write about controversial issues, but the vitriol I was met with after I criticized Israel last year made me wary about touching the subject again.
But then Israel began bombarding Gaza and Lebanon with white phosphorous. And a 6-year-old Palestinian American was stabbed to death in Chicago. And then Gaza was put under siege, with over two million people denied fuel, water and electricity.
And then the Al-Ahli hospital blew up, killing hundreds of people. Israel has denied responsibility, blaming an errant Palestinian rocket, but the Israeli government has already launched over 100 attacks on Palestinian healthcare facilities since Oct. 7, and they have a long history of destroying such facilities in Gaza. Forgive me if I don’t take their word for it on Al-Ahli.
Hamas’s gruesome attack on civilians is the pretense the Israeli government is using to attack even more civilians, and the U.S. government has been with them every step of the way.
The State Department issued a memo instructing staffers not to use the phrases “end to violence/bloodshed,” “restoring calm,” and “de-escalation/ceasefire” in their press releases about Gaza, according to internal emails viewed by HuffPost.
On Oct. 18, the U.S. vetoed a U.N. resolution condemning all violence against civilians in the Israel-Hamas war and urging humanitarian aid to Palestinians.
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Thousands of Palestinians have already been slaughtered by the IDF. The siege will probably kill thousands more. What we’re seeing in Gaza is the continuation of the nakba, the “catastrophe” that saw hundreds of thousands of Palestinians killed or displaced beginning in 1948, according to the United Nations.
We cannot be silent about this.
It seems as if the Israeli government is actively seeking the annihilation of the Palestinian people, through their illegal settlements, through terror and through austerity. More than half of Gazans live in poverty, Palestinians continue to lose their homes in the West Bank with some being forced into caves and year after year Israel kills far more people than the Palestinian militants.
All this humiliation, all this death – and somehow it is “surprising” when war breaks out? One people cannot subjugate another so ruthlessly and for so long and expect to face no resistance. This most recent Palestinian uprising was bound to happen, and violence will continue to plague the region as long as the contradictions in Israel remain unresolved.
There won’t be peace in the region until Palestine is free.
This seems very obvious to me, but I see very little media coverage that suggests it. It’s always “Israel has the right to defend itself,” and there’s never any questions about why Israel has to “defend” itself so often. Blatantly illegal settlements, turning Gaza into an open-air prison through a land, an air and sea blockade, mass violence against civilians – it is no surprise that a country engaging in these things has compulsory military service for its citizens.
Almost as bad is the framing of this conflict as a fair fight. I’m sure I will receive many comments on this column saying something along the lines of, “But what about what Hamas did?” and my response to that is for the reader to study the history of the conflict and look at the charts comparing the deaths on both sides.
For every unsavory act on the Palestinian side, we see 100 from the Israeli government. Long before Hamas even existed, Israel was killing and displacing the indigenous population, removing them in the name of the Zionist political project. Israel has the full support of the most powerful country in the world and is a nuclear power. Meanwhile, roughly half of Gaza are children. This “conflict” is hardly an equal contest.
Israel has been called an apartheid state by several human rights organizations, has violated international law with impunity and is actively committing acts considered war crimes under the Geneva Conventions. Every decent person wants to see peace in the region and an end to the bloodshed, but this only happens when the world recognizes Israel as the aggressor.
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This is an uphill battle. Media coverage of the conflict has been overwhelmingly pro-Zionist, our celebrities are doing their performative activism on behalf of Israel and the public at large has taken all of this in and is more sympathetic to Israel than Palestine. The stage at the moment is set for prolonged bloodshed.
My position for the time being is unpopular, but I believe it to be right. I want the conflict to end, and so I will continue, despite any negative consequences, to call for a free Palestine, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. History will absolve me.
Jared Quigg (he/him) is a senior studying journalism and political science.