The World Can’t Ignore Palestine Anymore

Through our phones and computer screens, we are seeing the brutality and violence that Palestinians are being dealt -- and the media can't ignore it.

Palestine Sheikh Jarrah

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My Grandfather’s name was Ali Hussain Hourani, but he was just ‘Jiddo’ to me. Jiddo Ali loved gardening — it was his favourite thing to do. He would spend hours in the garden and only realise how much time had passed when Teta would call him back into the house for lunch. He was from a village called Hittin, which was on the coast of the Sea of Galilee, not far from Tiberias. In 1948 Jiddo was forced out of his home by Zionist settlers. On May 14th of the same year, the State of Israel was founded and on July 16th, the village of Hittin was completely erased.

The events of 1948 are referred to as the ‘Nakba’ which translates to ‘catastrophe’. During the Nakba, more than 700,000 Palestinians were violently and forcibly displaced from their homes to make room for Zionist settlers. Over 400 Palestinian towns and villages were subsequently wiped out or given new names. What we are witnessing in Sheikh Jarrah and other towns and villages across Palestine now is not unlike what happened to Hittin. The Nakba never ended: forced displacement and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians has been ongoing for 73 years.

When I was in Palestine in 2018, we returned to Hittin. We had to find an old map of Palestine to try and figure out where Hittin was. Baba sat in the front seat, holding up the tattered map in front of his face to try and figure out how to get there. We spent most of the day driving around in circles (including accidentally ending up in a Kibbutz) before we finally found Hittin. By the time we got there, it was almost dark, and we only had a few precious moments to soak in our surroundings. Those short moments were the most confronting moments of my life: It was hard to believe that a village used to be there — that there were homes and schools and lives that were lived there. They erased all signs of life and planted grass over our bones to cover up the damage. Sheikh Jarrah and other villages across Palestine are under threat of being erased and we cannot stand-by and let that happen.

One of the main differences between what happened to Hittin in 1948 and what is happening to Sheikh Jarrah is that we are witnessing the settler colonial violence in real time.

Palestinians on the ground are taking to social media as they fight to save their homes, villages, and lives. Social media has provided an opportunity to amplify Palestinian voices and centre the experiences of those on the ground — from Sheikh Jarrah to South Hebron, and all over cities in historic Palestine (like Akka, Haifa, al-Lydd) to Gaza. Through our phones and computer screens, we are seeing the brutality and violence that they are being met with. Palestinians no longer have to beg journalists and other gatekeepers to give them airtime or screen-time to have our truth heard. We now have the tools and platforms at our fingertips to share what is happening to us — unfiltered and uncensored. We can no longer say that we did not know; the brutal and genocidal nature of the State of Israel is on full display for the whole world to bear witness.

While live footage is being shared by those most directly impacted, the Australian media is choosing to pedal biased and incomplete narratives instead of elevating the truth of what is happening on the ground. The media is reporting events in Palestine as if they are recent and isolated incidents.

Palestinians and Palestine allies have known the truth for decades — for over three generations. The media have continuously tried to push an ‘it’s so complicated’ narrative, at best, or remained wilfully ignorant, at worst. They have distorted our voices and deliberately obfuscated facts on the ground to serve colonial narratives. We know that what is happening in Palestine is simple. It is settler colonialism, it is apartheid, it is occupation, and it is ethnic cleansing. Not only has this been known for 73 years, but none of these concepts are unique. The Palestinian struggle is not unique: settler colonialism is the foundation upon which Australia was built; we are all too familiar with Apartheid South Africa; we are currently witnessing occupation and ethnic cleansing in Kashmir, East Turkestan, and West Papua.

As Palestinians, we know all too well that our liberation is inherently and inextricably tied up in the freedom and liberation of all those being suffocated by oppressive systems and structures across the globe — all of which can no longer be ignored.

By silencing our voices and perpetuating harmful narratives, the Australian media is placing Palestinian towns and villages, Palestinian history, and Palestinian people under threat of being erased. Change is coming and the people are rising. We are witnessing a paradigm shift in the way that Palestine is being talked about in the mainstream. We cannot stand-by and see what happened to Hittin happen to any more towns or villages.

Resources on how to find out more about Palestine, and how to get involved:

  • Accounts to follow on Sheikh Jarrah
    • @mohammedelkurd
    • @muna.kurd15
    • @ramzi.ans
    • @abdalafo
  • Accounts to follow on Palestine
    • @letstalkpalestine
    • @eye.on.palestine
    • @theimeu
    • @eyewitnesspalestine
  • Websites on Palestine
  • National organisations to follow / support
    • Australia-Palestine Advocacy Network
    • BDS Australia
    • Olive Kids
  • Rallies / protests to attend
    • Brisbane, 10am on Saturday 22nd May, King George Square
    • Adelaide, 11am on Saturday 22nd May, Parliament House
    • Melbourne, 1pm on Saturday 22nd May, State Library of Victoria
    • Wollongong, 1pm on Saturday 22nd may, Crown St Mall
    • Perth, 11am on Sunday 23rd May at Forrest Place
  • Write to your local MP: https://apan.good.do/stopthebombings/NOW/ 
  • Sign the pledge to #BoycottHP: https://bdsaustralia.good.do/boycotthp/boycotthp-pledge/ 

Jeanine is a Palestinian Advocate and Educator living on unceded Wurundjeri country. She arrived in Naarm (Melbourne) as a Palestinian refugee in 1997. She is now the Director of an organisation called Road to Refuge which aims to change the narrative around refugees and people seeking asylum by transferring the power of narrative back to those most directly impacted.