Why We Resist
During the Lebanese 'Civil' War, Israel raided my father's village so that they can imprison all the young and able men. My uncle was the last of the brothers still staying at my grandparents house but my grandma wasn't about to give him up that easy. There is something like a cellar door in our kitchen that opens up to a water reserve (i.e. a well or a 'beer' as they call it in Lebanon). My grandma hid my uncle in there for 3 days. I can't imagine the fear my grandma and all the other village people must have felt at that time. You know how old people shake? Well, in her old age, my grandma used to tremble like an earthquake. I'm fairly certain that experience contributed to that.
There are many stories like this one, stories experienced by average Canadians or their family members. It just gives you a small taste of how real these stories are.
The worst stories, however, are primarily those of the Palestinians. They are of those who have suffered the losses of their children, seen their parents killed and homes destroyed and have been forced to flee the land that their ancestors have inhabited for centuries. On top of all that, they continue to be treated today as second class citizens and stripped of their right to return to their own villages.
These stories sit heavy on our shoulders. They are the reason we feel appalled with Gal Gadot's popularity and cringe when we see advertisements for Sabra and SodaStream: two companies that have profited from the destruction of Palestinian homes to settle their factories on.
It should be made clear that our anger and resistance towards Israel does not come from a fear/hatred of Jewish people. It stems from 70 years of atrocities committed by Zionists. It comes from the trauma inflicted by soldiers who clearly have no mercy and no remorse whatsoever.
And our rage grows when we see Ahed, a 16 year old child, become imprisoned for slapping an armed soldier shortly after her 15 year old cousin was shot in the head. And when we see Razan, a 21 year old nurse trying to save people's lives, get shot in the chest and killed.
This is why it is incomprehensible to me that people try to excuse Israel's actions or pass this on as a two-sided conflict. Palestinians do not have the power, or the indecency for that matter, to inflict this same type of oppression. For every flag they wave or stone they throw, they are suppressed with tear gas, gun shots and bombs. They are restricted to certain locations, entrapped within city walls, exposed to war planes hovering over their heads and shuffled into military checkpoints on the daily.
A couple of months ago, when Trump declared he would be placing the American embassy in Jerusalem to proclaim it as the capital of Israel, I had attended the protest downtown. As I stepped away to get something from my car, I overheard a guy who saw the large crowd, laughing to his friends while staying 'wow they're angry'.
Yes. We're angry.
If you took the time to understand, you'd be angry too.
The ongoing 'conflict' is not due to a failure of peace negotiations. You cannot negotiate with someone who does not want peace. Israel will continue its occupation until its goals are fully achieved. This goal being rooted in the ideology of Zionism.
Zionism has been around since the late 1800s. The goal of its founders was to establish a Jewish state, as no such land existed at the time and the Jewish population was subject to persecution in the countries they lived in. There were in fact several options presented for this state, such as Alaska and Uganda. Palestine was a popular option because of Jerusalem's historical significance within Judiasm. Conveniently enough, Britain had control over Palestine at the time, so come the Balfour Declaration, this was a pretty easy handover.
People try to use the Holocaust as an excuse for Western support of Israel's inception, but let's just say that Britain clearly did not become the world's largest empire by caring for the persecuted and oppressed.
This was a strategic move made by the Brits to maintain control over a land with valuable resources and convenient geographic positioning. This desire for control of the region by the West remains evident, as it's no secret that Israel would cease to exist without the massive support of U.S. aid.
As a side note, it's pretty ironic that a Jewish state established on someone else's land has become so successful, all while secularism grew to be a part of modern democracy and colonialism was becoming frowned upon, and supposedly a thing of the past.
Israelis today are raised with this notion that the Palestinians are a violent and lesser people. They grow up with a hatred of the very people whose homes they've stolen. How else is the Israeli government supposed to justify their actions to their people?
Fortunately, there are Israelis and many other people around the world that have become aware of the harsh reality of the situation. There are former IDF soldiers who have come forward to speak about the villages they destroyed and the innocent lives they have taken during the Nabka and afterwards. They speak about how they were brainwashed into thinking that what they were doing was right. They live ridden with guilt over the crimes they have committed, but the way their perceptions were altered and their bravery to speak up can give one hope that there is large potential for change.
Janna Ayyad is a little girl who has suffered the loss of family members and the houses of her village, including her own home, are often raided by Israeli soldiers at night. One of those nights were when her cousin, Ahed, and her aunt were taken away. She has come to be known as the world's youngest reporter as she is dedicated to documenting everything happening in her village. Despite the horrors she's faced, she continues to resist and have hope, so what's stopping us?
It is the inspiration I feel when I hear Janna speak, the rage I feel when I hear of Razan's murder, and the hope I feel when I see people like Lia Tarachansky denounce the actions of the country she grew up in, that allow me to continue speak up against this injustice.
The situation is not as hopeless as some people may think; the South African apartheid ended so this one can too.
It is for these reasons that we continue to resist. It is why we will continue to boycott, to protest, to post on social media and to lobby our government representatives - until the occupation comes to an end and the millions of Palestinian refugees dispelled from their homes can implement their Right to Return.
I encourage you to join this movement, to learn as much as you can about it and to resist against all injustices in any way you can.
Support all those that echo the voices of the silenced. Share with the the world what the mainstream news outlets fail to cover. Stand up for the activists that risk their careers and reputations by speaking the truth.
Don't be on the wrong side of history.
And to the People Of Palestine:
Keep marching on. You may not hear our footsteps from a distance, but we're marching right behind you.