Opinion Piece: Why we must not forget Palestine and her people as the newsfeed dies down

This piece was written by social justice activist, humanitarian and Sydney based law student, Louis Debord, on day 9 of the most recent attacks on Gaza. He has dedicated much of his time, volunteering in Australia to support both the local Indigenous communities and Palestinian community, in addition to travelling to Greece to work to advocate and support refugees arriving from Syria. Additionally, he has spent time working for human rights causes in Palestine, most recently with Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem and other local grassroots organizations. 

Friends witnessing an exponential outpouring of support for the Palestinians in your newsfeed: it is vitally important to remember that the Palestinians have been subject to this kind of violent oppression for over 100 years. The difference now is one of optics – their oppression has become harder to conceal from the eyes of the world. (Something which can be attributed to the unwavering resilience of Palestinians, both on the ground and in the diaspora, who continue working tirelessly, risking life, career-prospects, and limb, to confront us with the raw truth and educate us about their plight.)

The horrors we are witnessing today are not an aberration of the Zionist project, but rather the natural continuation of the colonization of Palestine. The truth is that Israel was founded through terrorism (see Jabotinsky/the irgun and the stern gang) and survives only through the systematic application of crushing violence toward the Palestinians – the atrocities over the past week are just a brazen expression of this violence, which by design must occur to sustain itself as a supremacist “state”. 

Recent attacks on Gaza targeted entire families and residential buildings.

What we are witnessing at the moment is known as the Dahiya Doctrine, a military policy which classifies every single person in Gaza as a legitimate military target (one million children inclusive) and seeks to deliberately target civilian infrastructure, as a means of inducing maximum suffering for the civilian population, thereby establishing deterrence. Outbursts like the one we’re currently witnessing are then interspersed throughout general periods known in Israeli military terms as “mowing the lawn”. These operations occur every few years to devastate and demoralize Gaza (see Operate Cast Lead in 2009, Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, Operation Protective Edge in 2014. See also the 2006 Lebanon War). 

The creation of Israel, and I’ll borrow from the words of its architects, required the violent expulsion of, at a minimum, 80% of the native population. Of course, the Zionist colonial project had strived for the complete erasure of Palestine – from the land, the map and the minds of the world – but to Israel’s ongoing existential frustration, the Palestinians refused to disappear. Exposing Israel’s application of wanton violence is an important part of combatting our media’s gutless coverage and active complicity in hiding these atrocities. However, it is critical to remember two things. 

Firstly, your solidarity is meaningless if it is contingent on Palestinian victimhood. Their very existence relies upon the ability to resist against the Zionist project by any means necessary. The alternative is that the Palestinians disappear. The method in which they choose to resist is a tactical decision and armed resistance is justified both morally and under international law. Solidarity is achieved through supporting the Palestinian people in their struggle to rid themselves of the vestiges of colonialism and how they should most effectively undertake this is for them to decide.

It is also worth reiterating that no people on earth have engaged in non-violent resistance for longer than the Palestinians have. At a glance you will observe civil disobedience against the Ottomans, violently repressed; the 1936-39 mass strike and Great Revolt against the British, violently repressed; both Intifadas, violently repressed; decades of demonstrations against the Apartheid Wall, violently repressed; Great March of Return, hundreds of unarmed protesters executed like fish in a barrel and ten thousand others left with life-altering injuries; a movement to boycott and sanction Israel chastised as hate speech, labelled economic terrorism and rapidly becoming legislatively prohibited. 70 years of non-violent resistance against the colonial occupation has been met with crushing violence and systematic repression in order to squash any kind of resistance.

Associated Press and Al Jazeera offices destroyed amongst others in a mixed use building.

Secondly, be cautious of those who talk about peace without talking about justice. Or peace as merely the absence of the crushing violence we are currently witnessing. Every single thing about the colonization of Palestine has been oppressive and violent. 73 years on from their ethnic cleansing, Palestinians in Israel, live under conditions of apartheid and institutionalized discrimination; Palestinians in the “West Bank” live under military occupation and witness their land disappearing before their eyes due to the proliferation of illegal Israeli settlements; Palestinians in Gaza live under a genocidal military siege making it the most uninhabitable place on earth; and Palestinians in Lebanon and Jordan remain in refugee camps, which were first inhabited by their great-grandparents, and still denied the right of return. 

Those who apologize or defend Israel would have you believe that the conditions identified above are peaceful. Peace for them is Palestinian capitulation. What they mean by peace is the peace of mind that when they go sunbathing on Tel Aviv beach, they won’t be disturbed by rocket sirens. That their Mediterranean holiday plans won’t be interrupted by children in Gaza being blown into pieces. They would prefer that Gaza suffocates quietly and that Israel’s theft of Palestine be done piece by piece. Of course, it’s harder to masquerade as progressive when their “birth right” is predicated on the erasure of another.