If there is one thing Palestinians are known for, it is that we are extremely patriotic. We decorate our homes with Palestinian merchandise and paintings, we continue to dress in traditional patterns, and even though many of us have never even seen Palestine, we continue to identify ourselves as Palestinians. There is even a well-known joke about how Palestinians always have to bring up the fact that they are Palestinian in any setting or conversation. But the underlying reason behind that is our need to prove to the world that we exist.
Biggest Threat to Democracy in Israel Comes From Within
Palestinians all over the world have been struggling and calling for the same things for over 70 years while not only being ignored, but invalidated. However, for the first time ever, there is a trace of hope. Palestinians — and their supporters — have used many terms to describe the conditions they have been living in under the Israeli occupation, including apartheid, genocide and ethnic cleansing, among others. While those inside Palestine have been trying to show the world the truth and sub-par living conditions, those of us outside are trying to shed light on our family history and lack of right to return to our own land.
Nevertheless, for once, we are seeing notable progress. Now, with the latest developments in the Occupied Palestinian Territories with the evictions in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, the attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque and Gaza and the assaults on peaceful protesters, one cannot look at all the footage on social media and the news and continue to believe that the Zionist state of Israel is not ethnically cleansing Palestinians.
For years, Palestinians all over the globe felt like they were alone in this fight to shed light on their plight with no success or extremely slow progress. We have been fighting more battles than anyone knows. Above all, we have been tackling those who spin the narrative to make it look like the oppressors are the victims, which is emotionally and mentally draining. Twitter user Jehad Abusalim says, “One of the worst things about experiencing this pain is that Palestinians need to mourn but also are expected to educate the world from scratch, every time, and make the case for why they must be treated like humans.”
One of the most dominant arguments against Palestinians and their supporters is the anti-Semitism argument. For years, celebrities, leaders and individuals have avoided discussing the crisis in Palestine for fear of being labeled as an anti-Semite. Yet another battle that we have been fighting is the burden of having to explain to the world how criticism of Israel does not make someone anti-Semitic.
But now, with the help of social media, the narrative is shifting. People are differentiating between Zionism and Judaism. It is no longer a taboo to call out the injustices happening to Palestinians. We no longer feel alone in this fight because Palestine is seen as less of a political cause and more of a humanitarian one. Showing support and standing in solidarity with the Palestinians is becoming normalized because the truth is being exposed. For once, Palestinians are hopeful. We feel change coming.
Several changes have already taken place. Besides the worldwide protests with hundreds of thousands taking to the streets to spread awareness on the many issues in the occupied territories, a few examples of such change is the number of celebrities with millions of followers who are speaking out against the Zionist state. Political leaders, especially in the US, Israel’s strongest ally, are calling for change and sanctions. Senator Bernie Sanders submitted a resolution to limit the sale of American weapons to Israel. Dockworkers in Italy have refused to load arms for Israel, some governments have stood firm in their response to Israel, and many people are boycotting Israeli products and companies that financially support the Israeli military.
The biggest and most prominent proof that Palestinian voices are being heard is different social media platforms attempting to censor and silence supporters of the Palestinian cause so that Israel remains in control of the narrative. But this time, it is not working. Israel has lost control.
Despite the major progress in raising awareness of the Palestinian plight, there continues to be excessive pressure on influential people to change the narrative, “tone down the rhetoric” and even apologize for standing with the Palestinians. Some, such as actor Mark Ruffalo, have caved but other influential people, such as writer Shaun King and model Bella Hadid, continue to stand strong.
Keep the Momentum
Now that Palestinians are hopeful, this is our time to turn our hope into reality. We are calling on everyone who wants to support our cause to boycott companies that support the Israeli apartheid regime and put pressure on their representatives and leaders for political change. But most importantly, we want everyone to continue making noise and keep the momentum going. Although Israel has agreed to a ceasefire in Gaza, as Palestinians have experienced in the past, this is only a cover-up for other crimes against Palestinians in an attempt to kill the buzz.
Our biggest concern is that the conversation will die down and Palestinians will go back to living under the status quo, which remains unjust. After all, if one were really on the right side of history, they would not try to cover up their crimes.
There is a beautiful quote being shared on social media that reads: “The only thing Israel failed to consider when they expelled 750,000 Palestinians 73 years ago was their grandchildren — now from all over the world — coming back to defend their rights.” So, why are Palestinians more patriotic than any other group of people? We believe that our existence is resistance, so we are doing everything in our power to highlight our existence and resist crimes committed against us. Palestinians have always been courageous fighters, saying: “It’s free Palestine until Palestine is free.” And we will never give up on that fight.
*[This article is submitted on behalf of the authors by the Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU) Communications Directorate. The views expressed are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the university’s official stance.]
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.