We need to keep talking about Palestine

Alanna Sherman, Columnist

Following the rise of footage depicting the oppressive tactics Israeli settlers use on Palestinians, the phrase “Free Palestine”  started to dominate my social media timeline. 

In the spring of 2021, the Israeli military dropped airstrikes which stole hundreds of lives, displaced thousands, and destroyed neighborhoods, businesses, farmland, and sacred Mosques such as Al-Aqsa during the holy month of Ramadan. “Free Palestine” was all over social media platforms until the end of May when Israel announced a “ceasefire”, and Palestine seemed to fade in the minds of many Americans.

However, a “ceasefire” only means a temporary end to the dropping of airstrikes. An Israeli “ceasefire” does not mean an end to the home demolitions, checkpoints, village invasions, mass arrests, movement restrictions, theft of resources and severe violence that has been taking place in Palestine since 1948. 

This “ceasefire” lasted for a short period of time, and when the Israeli military carried on bombing Palestine, many Americans remained silent. 

I was raised in a Jewish household in which support of Zionism, a movement in support of the creation of the Holy Land of Israel, was assumed. 

Like many American Jews, I was taught that Zionism is a positive force, which allowed for reparations after the Holocaust of 1941. 

Only in recent years have I learned that Zionism is a white supremacist ideology, and is not meant to improve the quality of life for Jewish people, but rather enforce colonization. Zionism is not embedded in Jewish values, as Judaism never taught us to commit genocide. 

Using the excuse of anti-semitism in conversations about Palestine is not valid, as many Palestinians also practice Judaism, and Judaism has never preached violence or racism. Israel uses accusations of anti-semitism to deflect rightful critique. 

The longer Jewish people remain silent about this genocide, the longer we are complicit in colonialism. Our voices hold power, and we are obligated to use them and constantly unlearn the Zionist values we were taught in order to save human lives.

Illustration by Ally Kim.

Not only are Jewish people complicit in this genocide, but those residing in the United States paying taxes are funding the Israeli military. The U.S. as a whole gives an estimated $3.8 billion to Israel every year. We should be angry that our tax money is funding mass murder. 

For many years, Palestinians have encouraged U.S. citizens to join the BDS movement, which stands for Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions. This movement utilizes economic protest, displacing money from companies complicit in Israel’s colonial project.  

When Palestine was a “trend”, many people were posting on social media, but many of those same people still refuse to change their spending habits. If we truly want to fight for Palestine, we need to understand the importance of joining the BDS movement. 

There is also the option to donate and spread the word about organizations that directly provide mutual aid to Palestinians, such as the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, Rebuilding Alliance, Palestinian Medical Relief Society and many others. 

We can read books such as “Justice for Some” by Noura Erakat, “These Chains Will Be Broken” by Ramzy Baroud, “This Side of Peace: A Personal Account” by Hanan Ashwari, “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” by Omar Barghouti and more. 

Whitman students can also join Students for Justice in Palestine (WSJP), which is a great way to take steps to educate ourselves and organize for Palestinian liberation. Although many Whitman students claimed support for Palestine and circulated information on social media, why isn’t WSJP larger? 

It is necessary that we continue discussions about Palestine and listen to Palestinian voices in order to stop the funding of this genocide.

“Free Palestine” is not a trend. We need to continue having discussions about Palestine and actively working towards Palestinian liberation. Palestinians are experiencing white supremacy and settler-colonialism in real-time, and we need to stop making excuses for our silence.