A Note on Palestine (authored by AMEMSA folks)

© Mustafa Hassona (more of his work — https://bit.ly/2RtoXbV)

What led to the most recent spike in Israeli aggression?

In October 2020, an Israeli Court ordered six Palestinian families to be forcibly removed from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem. This decree is a blatant violation of international law, but as has been the case for the currently 7 million Palestinian refugees who have already been displaced in accordance with Zionist settler colonialism, these families were also expected to leave their indigenous lands. The court initially determined May 2, 2021 as the date for their forced removal. In the leadup to and following this day, Palestinian protests against the stealing of property in Sheikh Jarrah erupted across Jerusalem. Israeli forces began targeting protestors with heavy tear gas, stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets. (Sound familiar?) The same tactics were also utilized by Israeli forces as they stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the holiest sites for Muslims, during Islam’s holy month of Ramadan and attacked thousands of peaceful worshippers. In all, the Palestinian Red Crescent reported 305 Palestinians were injured, 228 of whom were hospitalized for their injuries.

The Dehumanization of Palestinian Life

Coupled with the state-sanctioned violence of Palestinians in Gaza and Jerusalem is the all too familiar systematic denial of Palestinian humanity across news outlets and within our highest seats of power. Western media outlets continuously use the language of colonialism to report on the situation with words such as “clashes”, “conflict on both sides”, “inter-communal violence” or “violence in the West Bank” with no consideration of the epic power differential between the two peoples. Israel, a nuclear power, is one of the largest arms exporters in the world. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) boasts a military budget of $20.5 billion and possession of the multibillion-dollar Iron Dome missile-defense system which intercepts the vast majority of incoming attacks. Palestine, with its own right to defend itself, has no official state or regular army.

Parkour in Gaza © Wissam Nassar (more of his work — https://bit.ly/3hBvkVq)

Why This is Relevant to the United States

In 2016, the U.S. signed a deal with Israel to provide $38 billion in military aid over the next 10 years, the largest in U.S. history. Further, in December of last year, Congress approved as part of a COVID-19 relief package approximately $4 billion to Israel in additional military aid. This means the average individual American taxpayer gives $25.25 in weapons to Israel each year. Not only is the U.S. actively financing the violent dispossession and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, but the U.S. is also committed to defending Israel’s war crimes, blocking a UN statement three times just this week condemning Israel’s military aggression. Further, U.S. aid to Israel bears no restrictions. In April, 330 U.S. Representatives, including over 125 Democrats and nearly all House Republicans, committed to ensuring U.S. military aid to Israel remain unconditional irrespective of the country’s human rights record. At the same time, several members of Congress (among other allies) have strongly expressed their solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Standing in Solidarity and Getting Involved

The harrowing images and videos from the past two weeks have been extremely difficult to bear for many of us. We especially want to send love to our Palestinian brothers and sisters and we hope and pray your families and loved ones have been able to stay safe during this time.

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