Will the Truth set Palestine free? Don’t enough of us know the truth by now? Haven’t the Palestinians been trying to tell us for decades? Did we listen? No. Thankfully, that doesn’t stop them. 5,791 killed by airstrikes in the last 2 weeks — 2,360 were kids. The ones under the rubble are unreported as of now. Tens of thousands injured and barely any aid, food, water or electricity. Imagine if they understandably thought, “Well, the media narrative controlled by Israel and the western world has dehumanized us and made us terrorists and barbarians in people’s minds. No one cares. They all believe in lies even when proven wrong. We’ll just stop raising our voices.”
Refaat Alareer writes in Gaza Writes Back: “Sometimes a homeland becomes a tale.” The Palestinian people under Israeli occupation have ensured that everyone knows their tale, even when we rebuff them. They have been talking – for more than half a century – about their joy, their food, their homeland, their dreams, their love, their anger. The regular Israeli air strikes, the atrocities against their kids, how their movements and lives are controlled, the daily violence and stripping away of basic human rights, of their imprisonment in a country-turned-concentration camp. And we kept calling it a ‘conflict’ as if it were between two equal powers.
For the last two weeks, many of them have started adding “Today, I’m alive” to their posts and videos. A comment on Instagram said something like: “Thank you for speaking up about the ethnic cleansing for so many years that it has finally reached me. Now I can do something about it.” Protests are being held globally, and even Palestinians are surprised at the support this time around (in all these years, this is the fifth round of gen*c*de carried out by Israel). So, you see. We gotta keep talking.
Marriage equality? Trans rights? Rights of queer people in India or in Palestine? Talk about it. Collect data. Put up posts, put up stories. Start conversations wherever you can. Because do you see how many people see the truth about Israel all over the world now? There’s hope.
Just remember that this particular hope came at the cost of Palestinians being dehumanized, at the cost of their mental health where we made them repeat their trauma over and over, and then disbelieved them. Maybe hope is the byproduct of political resistance even when no one’s watching, and suffering that others think we deserve? I hope not.
We heard their “Israel’s ever-growing military is killing us and our neighborhoods are being razed” and gave them “Why did Hamas attack them then? Both sides need to be heard and empathized with.” They would yell, “The US is giving billions of dollars to the settler colony of Israel every year to carry out violence! Israel has been bombing hospitals, refugee camps, places of worship, and schools for years!” And we say, “Why are you yelling? Why can’t you just be peaceful?”
Ah, yes. Peace. The thing that I recently learnt (from @sbeih.jpg on Insta) is a shut-up-and-obey tool of the oppressor to keep the oppressed in their place. To maintain the status quo. You know how your queerphobic boss or parent, or someone who has real power over you, wishes you were ‘easy’, more ‘peaceful’, not so ‘disruptive’? If you’re not careful, stating your needs or demanding what’s yours – when your human or health rights are not recognised and deliberately taken away – can be called violent. You too will think you’re being unreasonable or even abusive if you start believing the oppressor’s idea of ‘peace’. Unlearn it actively and urgently so you can be disruptive.
Coming back to India, the extremist Hindus have one thing going on for them: they never disappoint. As soon as the first Muslim kid was killed in Palestine, sure enough, there they were. With their saffron flags waving all over social media: “Finish, finish Palestine.” They think the ongoing violence is about religion, of course. The same religion where the savarnas are perpetrators of, oblivious to, or don’t care enough about caste atrocities in their own country. People from oppressed castes have been speaking their Truth for the longest time as well. Their persistence is not palatable to many of us. It’s too … disruptive.
During the last two weeks of horrors, many apolitical and ‘liberal’ queer desis have proven to be disappointing with their ‘both sides’ narrative. Israel has been slowly wiping out the people of Palestine to expand the boundaries of the land they stole from the latter, and we think that it’s a very “complicated” situation – a tragic “conflict”.
Listen up. Whether it’s human rights for Palestinians or the anti-caste movement in India, neither of these is independent of our queer rights!
I’ve been thinking about this a lot, “Imagine if the oppressed only spoke up once, and never again.” Value systems and generations of joy, and deepest roots of culture will die with an entire people. The colonized people of Palestine, in all their hope and constant mourning, in all their survival and protecting the younger ones, always set aside physical and mental energy to tell us the truth. To soften and melt away the propaganda from our ears. To make us their witness.
Over and over. For years.
Did it finally work? Do we now think mass extermination is less complex to understand? Do we need them to die more or do we believe them now? I hope we do. Let’s make ‘hope’ something that we all carry together. When some need time off, others step up.
None of us would ever know the ground realities and the lies that the colony, or any dominant power, spins without the persistence of Truth. Grateful to the Palestinian journalists, civilians, documentary makers, photographers, writers and poets, and the children. Of yesterday and tomorrow. For having hope despite our ignorance and apathy. For reminding us that we too are accountable for every time we looked away. And to the countless Jews, especially the ex-Zionists, who stand against the occupation openly, saying: “Never Again Means Never Again For Anyone.”
A couple of facts:
Human Rights Watch said on May 15, 2023: “May 15 marks the 75th anniversary of Nakba Day, commemorating the more than 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were expelled from their homes, and the more than 400 Palestinian villages destroyed in the events surrounding the establishment of Israel in 1948. As the Palestinian human rights group al-Haq wrote, “the legacy of the Nakba events is that about two-thirds of the Palestinian people became refugees,” while Israel “imposed a system of institutionalized racial discrimination over Palestinians who remained on the land.” Today, there are more than 5.9 million Palestinian refugees, including the descendants of those who fled or were expelled.”
From a UN Human Rights Council 2022 report: “Living in the same geographic space, but separated by walls, checkpoints, roads and an entrenched military presence, are more than three million Palestinians, who are without rights, living under an oppressive rule of institutional discrimination and without a path to a genuine Palestinian state that the world has long promised is their right. Another two million Palestinians live in Gaza, described regularly as an ‘open-air prison’, without adequate access to power, water or health, with a collapsing economy and with no ability to freely travel to the rest of Palestine or the outside world.”