by Kimberli Mejia Quito
Throughout the world people are protesting in solidarity and support of Palestinians. This is in response to the attacks on Palestinian communitues committed by Israel. On May 19, it was confirmed that about 219 Palestinians, 63 being children, have been killed due to Israel’s air attacks on Gaza according to BBC News.
The Israeli military mentioned that the civilian casualties were completely “unintentional.” However, this doesn’t appear to be the case. According to Al Jazeera, a digital online news and current events channel, Israeli forces “wounded 35 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank…Israel said it wouldn’t stop bombing Gaza until there is ‘complete quiet.’”
Palestinians were wounded on the Friday night of May 7th when Israeli police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem. According to Dawn news source, at least “205 Palestinians…were injured in the night-time of Israeli police attacks at Islam’s third-holiest site and around East Jerusalem.”
Approximately 90,000 Muslim worshipers prayed at the nearby Al-Aqsa Mosque on Islam’s holy night of Laylat al-Quadr, which are considered the most sacred of prayers during the fasting month of Ramadan. Some remained to protest Israel’s plan to evict Palestinian families from their homes in Jerusalem in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
Sheikh Jarrah is a Palestinian neighborhood situated toward the north of the Old City in East Jerusalem. Palestinians are resisting the threat of eviction from their homes in this neighborhood. Israel is endeavoring to evict Palestinian families who have lived in the neighborhood since 1956.
The eviction is to clear a path for Israeli settlers to strengthen their hold over occupied Jerusalem, where Palestinians are deprived of their basic human rights. According to The New York Times, in East Jerusalem, Israelis are “allowed to reclaim property that was under Jewish ownership before 1948. But Palestinian families have no legal mechanism to reclaim land they owned in West Jerusalem or anywhere else.” Israeli and Palestinian civilians aren’t given equivalent protection under Israeli law.
The UN’s human rights office called on Israel to “immediately halt all forced evictions, including those in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem.” However, Palestinians face housing discrimination which will make it complicated for the families living in the Sheikh Jarrah area to remain in Jerusalem if they’re evicted.
Many have labeled the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian communities as the “Israel-Palestinian conflict.” However, the mass expulsion and killings of the Palestinian people is not a two sided “conflict.” This is an appalling way to diminish the reality of what’s occurring. It is not a “conflict” but rather Israeli colonialism, military occupation, ethnic cleansing, and apartheid. Labeling it as a “conflict” alludes that there is an equal distribution of power or equal footing, which isn’t the case here. Israel is the active oppressor and Palestine is the oppressed.
The land was originally a Jewish homeland. However, by the first century BCE, the land was under the Roman Empire’s Rule. In 70 CE, after Jewish rebellion, the Romans suppressed Jewish education and exiled them. The banishing of the Jewish people brought about the Jewish Diaspora. Jewish people spread all through Eastern and Central Europe. In the centuries following the diaspora, they suffered immense persecution by Christian rulers. Between 1871 and 1907, Jewish communities were victims of large-scale massacres known as pogroms which further explains why many of them sought refuge in the U.S. However, by 1941 the largest act of anti-semitism took place.
The Holocaust was the World War II genocide of European Jews. Nazi Germany systematically murdered millions of Jews and it led to the rising of Zionism. Zionism was a nationalist movement created during the 1880’s as a reaction to 2,000 years of anti-semitic discrimination and persecution. The objective of Zionism was to create and establish a Jewish national state in Palestine. Due to this movement, waves of immigration occurred and the Jewish population in Palestine increased.
Palestinians who had lived in the land for centuries after Jewish people were exiled were in no shape or form responsible for the harm inflicted upon Jewish people. Yet they were forced off of their own land through Zionist leaders and the UN, becoming refugees in their own country. The main historical acts that vigorously burdened the Palestinian people was the UN Partition Plan of 1947 and the war of 1948. Both brought about the loss of Palestinian property, dignity, and their exposure to discrimination and bigotry.
Palestinian resistance is a response to the oppression they face under Israel, who has been successful in violently colonizing Palestine while committing systemic murder of Palestinian communities.
Israel has been victorious in the illegal occupation of Palestine because of the support of other settler colonies such as the United States and Canada. According to the Congressional Research Service, Israeli military occupation “has been supported by US aid paid for by U.S. tax dollars since 2016 for the next 10 years.” And just recently, the Biden administration endorsed $735 million worth of arms sales to Israel.
The eviction and systemic murder of Palestinians are not isolated incidents but simply a reiteration of U.S. backed violence, influences, interests and fundings within the region. The state sanctioned violence occurring in Palestine stems from both U.S imperialism and capitalism. For nations like the U.S and Canada to address Israel’s crimes against humanity, they’d have to begin with addressing their very existence in the first place.
We welcome responses to this opinion piece, and hope it can be a spark to foster rich and productive conversation on the recent events in Palestine and Israel. We, at The East Sider, are open to spotlighting different perspectives, with the lens that we have a commitment to stand for human rights and social justice. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to respond either in a letter to the editor or in a separate op-ed.