By Reeda Alji
On May 15, 1948 Palestinians were forcibly displaced and expelled from their homes during the creation of the so-called State of Israel. The effects of the Nakba are still felt in Palestine today. The ethnic cleansing continues with thousands of Palestinians losing their homes due to the expansion of Israeli settlements, and the subjugation is ongoing with Palestinians denied fundamental human rights.
This week Israel “celebrates” its 70th anniversary of “independence,” and the U.S. decided to move the American embassy from Jaffa to Jerusalem on May 15, 2018. Trump does not only violate international law and legitimize Israel’s occupation of Palestine and particularly Jerusalem, but he also rewards Israel with a regal crown for their injustice and paves the way for a new circle of displacement, oppression, humiliation, dehumanization, and violence against Palestinians.
The U.S. once again uses the discourse of human rights as a tool of manipulation to oppress Palestinians and deprive them of their rights as an occupied nation, and Israel once again proves that it has no intentions for peace.
As Palestinians are revolting in the streets, protests in Palestine are not something new and should not come as a surprise as Palestinians have been fighting and struggling for liberation from the colonial reality and oppression 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 it actively aids and abets Israel in its efforts. The world ignores the racism, discrimination and oppression by Israel and continues 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 feel responsible to endure an oppression that maliciously seeps into every aspect of Palestinian life. 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 considered and treated as objects—shot at, beaten, humiliated, assaulted, and 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. Bearing this in mind, I believe this is how one can define ethnic cleansing.
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. To comprehend what is going in Palestine is to understand that when we take things into our own hands, we are censured and rebuffed. We have been violent and resistant and are called terrorists. We have been peaceful and are detained. We have attempted diplomacy even when it turned out that Palestinians are persecuting and oppressing themselves, and still, the world legitimizes Israeli brutality.
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.