If You Ignore the Deaths in Gaza, You Are Complicit in Our Slaughter | Opinion

On Monday, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner revelled in the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. 

That day, 58 unarmed Palestinian protesters were killed in Gaza. And more have died since.

Between the massacre in Gaza and the celebrations in Jerusalem, the world has once more been exposed to the true reality of Palestine.

On one side there is an occupying power that is incessantly rewarded by the international community, even as the Palestinians are being being pushed ever further out of their lands. Those who remain live under the harshest conditions: The denial of a right to live in dignity and freedom. In this age of media and social platforms, there is no excuse to not see what is happening. As such, remaining complicit is a conscious and active decision to side with oppression and directly be a part of it.

As Palestinians rally around different cities, but mainly in Gaza, they come out to protest not a single detail like the moving of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, but something vastly larger. We are protesting for life, for the right to return to the lands we were displaced from, to be Palestinians without being punished for it, and to bask in our freedom and all the dysfunction that we may bring with it.

The protests in Palestine should not come as a surprise. Palestinians have been struggling for liberation from the colonial reality here for decades. Ever since the Haganah and Irgun Zionist forces began committing slaughter on Palestinians, we fought back in whatever capacity we managed. Still, whenever we make any progress, the international community not only condemns our resistance, but actively aids and abets Israel in its efforts. The world ignored the racism and oppression by Israel and continued to treat it as a normal state. There is nothing normal about a state that builds itself through physically transferring an entire population.

Not only has Israel dispossessed Palestinians from their lands, but those of us who remain must endure an oppression that maliciously seeps into every aspect of our lives. Every inch of our existence is used against us. Our minds are turned into a space for psychological warfare to implant an image of inferiority into our core, to convince us that we are the lesser ones, destined to be either controlled or kicked out. Our bodies are objects—shot at, beaten, humiliated, assaulted, violated. Our ideas and dreams of liberation are swept into a corner because if we so much as dare to speak loudly and mobilize, we will find ourselves incarcerated or killed. Palestinians are wedged between a painful exile and a butchered land. This is the definition of ethnic cleansing.

RTS1RBZC Palestinian demonstrators run for cover from Israeli fire and tear gas during a protest against U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem and ahead of the 70th anniversary of Nakba, at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

We note the violations Israel commits against Palestinians every single day. There are endless reports and documents, videos and photographs, verified testimonies and much more. We are exhausted of repeating the stories of our oppression and constantly revisiting old trauma as we try to cope with an ongoing one. All of this we do so the world can see how inhumane and unjust Israeli colonization is. We have even returned to the laws that are meant to safeguard basic human rights, and still today the settlements and slaughter continue.

What is worse is that when we take things into our own hands, we are criticized and punished. We have been violent and called terrorists, we have been peaceful and were imprisoned, we have tried diplomacy even when it meant Palestinians oppressing Palestinians, and still the world justifies Israeli violence.

The misconception is that we actually have a choice, that we are willfully choosing death. The truth is that the only remaining option is to silently be imprisoned, controlled, dispossessed, and attacked for being Palestinian. There is no choice but to seek life, and that is all that we are doing. This is our crime. We are the criminals that dared to wish for life.

Every single hour the siege on Gaza and the occupation of the West Bank continues, the voice of oppression gets louder. What we are witnessing today is a mockery to all the progress we have made as humans. While we are moving forward in different areas and advancing as a global community in science, arts, technology and more, we are faltering because our collective humanity is being tested. Our failure to address oppression in all of its forms, whether it is colonialism, racism, or authoritarianism, will mock our advancement in other fields.

Let us not condense the protests in Gaza and Palestine to kneejerk reactions to a particular event, whether it’s the moving of the U.S. embassy or the erection of metal detectors by Al-Aqsa Mosque like last summer. Rather, let us recognize the root of all protest, defiance and resistance. It is in the most basic of language, it is a pursuit of life. Palestinians are brave enough to love life so much that they are willing to go out to the streets and protest, and when they are not protesting they are fighting in their daily life by merely echoing the word "Palestine."

Mariam Barghouti is a writer based in Ramallah.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own.​​

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