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What You Need to Know Now (and Do) About Gaza, Sheikh Jarrah & Palestine
Current Events
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May 19, 2021
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6 MIN READ
Haute Hijab Staff
staff writer
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A Chicago rally for Palestine; image source: Bayan Fares
Haute Hijab Staff
staff writer
Dozens of air strikes continue to pummel Gaza days into the escalation of violence between Israel and Palestine, which was sparked several days ago by Israeli settlers taking homes of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah and Israeli bombings and attacks at Masjid Al-Aqsa (the third holiest mosque in Islam) in the last days of Ramadan.
Let’s catch up on what’s been happening.
Since Israel began bombing Gaza (with Hamas firing rockets into Southern Israel to retaliate, the majority of which were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system), the mass casualties and destruction in Gaza has sparked support from Palestinians and allies from around the world.
Graphic source: Al Jazeera English on Instagram
The number that is hardest to swallow for many of us is more than 60 Palestinian children killed (two on the Israeli side) thus far (out of 213 Palestinians total by the latest reports) by bombs raining down upon them. Israel has also taken out an entire building where the Associated Press and Al Jazeera had their media offices and all their equipment. They have destroyed Gaza’s only COVID testing site and killed a world renown surgeon and esteemed member of Doctors without Borders, who dedicated his life to serving the people of Gaza, and hospital roads leading to the hospital as well as an MSF clinic itself. They bombed Gaza’s library and main publishing house. This, in addition to about 1,500 Palestinians being wounded (around 12 deaths in Israel and 300 wounded).

This has prompted President Joe Biden to finally express support for a cease fire after trotting out the tired line that so many U.S. presidents have uttered before him, stating support for Israel’s right to defend itself. President Biden was recently confronted by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (who is Palestinian-American) about rethinking the country’s stragegy as it was gearing up to send another $735 million in aid to Israel.
Shots have also been fired in the West Bank, with about 70 Palestinians being hospitalized, 26 being shot by live ammunition and one being killed. Protests continue in the West Bank, other parts of Palestine and around the world in support of Palestinians and the decades of oppression they have faced and stealing of their homes by illegal settlers in violation of international law.
It’s incredibly hard to watch people being bombed, killed and attacked, entire buildings coming down and children suffering. Chances are if you went on social media over the past two weeks, you’ve seen a barrage of photos of destruction – of Palestinians mourning their dead – and the most heartbreaking of all, the children, some with tears, some grappling with more loss than anyone should endure, and some smiling amongst the rubble as they grasp on to their toys that survived the bombing.
Bayan Fares at a Palestinian rally in Chicago. Image source: Bayan Fares
There’s so much suffering that we ask ourselves, how many times can a heartbreak? What are we to do?
Mohammad El Kurd, a Palestinian writer and poet who was pursuing his master’s degree in New York and had to return home to Sheikh Jarrah because of the threat his family was facing of being forcibly removed from their home, has been very vocal on social media and a guest on numerous news networks. He recently said in a tweet, “Donations will not liberate Palestine. Forcing governments, corporations, embassies, people to take action will. Protest and at the protest, plan the next protest and keep going until Palestine is free.”
There is hope that the narrative is shifting and becoming mainstream in a very unprecedented way, with popular celebrities (like Bella Hadid, Viola Davis, Mark Ruffalo and John Oliver, to name a few) speaking very strongly about Palestine, and people like Mohammed El Kurd being able to speak on many mainstream media platforms, like CNN.
There’s also social media – it’s exhausting to be confronted by post after post about Palestine, but we can’t afford to look away and stay silent. The posts and hashtag activism are making a difference. There’s more awareness, and that’s important. But most importantly, as Mohammed El Kurd stated, what Palestinians need is for all of us to pressure our representatives and our governments – because that’s where change happens. (Here’s how to do that. And this IG post talks you through how to text ResistBot to be able to pressure your elected officials.) Flood their inboxes, their voicemails, their mailboxes, protest in front of their offices, whatever we need to do.
It’s the least we can do. Protesting matters. Putting pressure on governments is effective. Constant posting through all forms of social media helps. Using the power of our wallets is effective. Don’t stop.
Every time we feel too exhausted or like we can’t make a difference, we see another video of children or parents mourning in Gaza, and we think to ourselves, no matter how “tired” we feel, it can never equate to how they feel.
What Can We Continue to Do? 7 More Calls to Action
Palestinian rally in Chicago. Image source: Bayan Fares
1. Keep posting. Palestinians on the ground in Sheikh Jarrah, Gaza and in other areas are asking everyone to keep up the pressure on their local governments and in sharing the news on the ground in all their social media circles. We may think sometimes that hashtag activism and the sharing and posting of stories is the least way of doing activism, but in this case the stories we are hearing is that the continued sharing of stories, posts and videos helps to keep the glaring spotlight on what the actual situation is in Israel instead of sanitized media reports that use false terminology like “conflict,” “real estate dispute,” “eviction” or even “war.” (It’s not really a war when one side holds all the power.)
2. Keep putting pressure on your elected officials. Here are step-by-step instructions from the New Jersey chapter of American Muslims for Palestine about how to reach your Congressperson and what to say to them. Or use ResistBot through your phone to do so.
3. Contact your Congressperson to support the Palestinian Children’s Act (H.R. 2590), which states that the U.S. will not fund the Israeli government's imprisonment and torture of Palestinian children; theft and destruction of Palestinian homes and property; or any further annexation of Palestinian land.
4. Do your research. What do you know about the occupation? What is “Nakba” and how did Israel actually come to exist (and how have borders been erased time and time again by Israel over the years)? Why has Gaza been subjected to a blockade for more than 14 years now and is considered to be an “open-air” prison? The information is out there.
5. Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment. Never underestimate the collective power of our wallets. Everything in politics boils down to money, as cynical as it sounds. Corporations are powerful in our government, and if they feel enough pressure, they will apply it back to the government. You can also get the Buycott app for your phone, which allows you to scan any product you are purchasing to see if it supports any apartheid government. The BDS movement was born out of South African apartheid. This video explains how you can get it, and how it works.
6. If you’re looking to write tweets or other language to support Sheikh Jarrah, Gaza, Masjid Al Aqsa and Palestine, click here.
7. Follow these activists and organizations on social media: @paliroots, @ampalestine, @eye.on.palestine (trigger warning), @letstalkpalestine and @theimeu to stay informed. Follow these Palestinians on the ground who are reporting and documenting the crisis: @mohammedelkurd, @muna.kurd15, @ayakhalaf.official and @kokym7.
We owe our Palestinian sisters and brothers our support. They are being tested with war and decades of occupation and apartheid. We are being tested with our blessings. Think about that.
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