For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Lena Alhallaq. I am a first generation Arab American woman living in Wichita with my parents and three brothers. My grandparents on both sides fled from Palestine to Qatar in the midst of the crisis with Israel. My parents then met and got married years later. The day after their wedding, they fled to the United States to live a better life.
We were lucky, but the Palestinians who remained in their native land, whether it was because they could not leave or chose to fight, were not so lucky.
Most Americans don’t think twice when we get up to choose our outfit for the day. We don’t have to worry about whether food will be on the table or not.
“What am I in the mood for today?” Should I eat at home or order take-out? Or maybe eat out? I should also invite my friends!
We don’t think about the roof over our heads, the food on our table, the clothes on our bodies. We have the flexibility to choose who we date, what we do for the day, what we wear.
We take these items and the basic necessities of human life for granted. But not on purpose; it’s just our routine. We remind ourselves to be thankful every now and then, but can we really understand the idea of not having these things?
Can we imagine what our lives would be like?
Palestinians don’t have to imagine. They are murdered on their own land. That is to say their reality. And they fight back.
The history of this apartheid goes back decades, but it is important to analyze it in order to understand how it got to what it is today. The Zionists succeeded in seizing most parts of Palestine to justify obtaining a land of their own, but the Western powers which were in charge of the situation did not stop the escalation of a genocide. Here is where you can learn more about the history and background of this case:
Have the Zionists forgotten the atrocity of the Holocaust, the systemic and state-sponsored cleansing and murder of over 6 million Jewish men, women and children? Don’t they see the parallels between them and Hitler himself, the very man who shamed their people?
Don’t they see the blood of their ancestors spilling out to every corner of the destroyed neighborhoods? Don’t they see the red sky, the effects of carpet bombs, the bullets coming out of buildings, and don’t they see a problem?
Can they not be seen in the eyes of dying children lying in the rubble as they walked past their machine guns and protective gear? Don’t men think of their own family at home as they walk past Arab fathers holding their dying sons, sobbing and screaming in the red sky?
They play a huge role in this crisis, but there are other catalysts to talk about.
To the pro-Palestinian Arabs who say “fuck all Jews” or protest with signs that say “Palestinian lives matter” or “end the Palestinian Holocaust”: just stop, because you are doing more harm only good.
What will it be good to invalidate the movements of other minorities and use them for their own benefit? What good is the grouping of all Jews together as horrible people, claiming that they are the main cause of this mess? There are Jews in New York who confidently join pro-Palestinian protests right outside the pro-Israel marches. There are also Arab Zionists and White Zionists in the world. Did you know? Are we just going to forget about these people and focus on targeting the Jews as a whole?
I understand. Our Palestinian grandparents and parents have generations of direct trauma from the Zionists and choose to lump all Jews together as bad people as a way to cope. But it is the same as all Americans grouping all Muslims as terrorists after September 11. We, the younger generations, must change this narrative. We cannot fight injustice with more injustice.
To Americans or anyone living in a third world who chooses to be silent: how are you going to tell me that posting on social media is not helping the situation? The people we publish about who die abroad are actually the ones who encourage our activism, who implore us to be their voices.
I remember that in history, we learned about the Cambodian genocide, the Rwandan genocide, the Holocaust, and we wondered how sickening it would have been to live in a time like this? Weren’t there some sane people back then to stop this? Well, here we are now, and it’s safe to say I’ve never been so disgusted.
To those around the world who “protest” by dancing and playing Palestinian music: How about saving the festivities until Palestine is free? You paint this movement as a concert, a way of having fun. You are making others believe that the problem may not be as bad as it seems, and that is NOT what we are trying to say here. When our people die, there is no reason to celebrate. Remove your speakers and instead listen to our solidarity for our dying brothers and sisters. Do better.
Courage of dying Palestinians must equalize thought talk about their rights, when some of you are not even paying attention. Check your privilege.
America has really created another story of the world, but let me tell you this: I know who is silent, but who is active on their social media. I see you and I am really disappointed. I have seen those who value me as a person, but who remain silent. As a first generation Arab American woman, you disrespect me, my family and my homeland. But stay comfortable!
Remember the red henna you painted on your hands, which can remind you of the bloodshed on Palestinian soil. Remember the hijabs that are worn as fashion statements in Western societies that mothers use to soak the blood of their fallen children, which are torn from their heads, which fall to the earth’s floor with the rest of the victims , the very symbol of Islam. Faith. Remember the adoption of the Kufiya models in western stores, but the Palestinians were scolded and rebuked as terrorists for wearing them, a symbol of their culture, their history, their deceased, their people, Palestine. Westerners take our culture for their aesthetics while turning a blind eye to the ethnic cleansing of our people.
They say they are proud of your ancestors and your family, your origin, your land, but how can I when the second the word “Palestinian” comes out of my mouth, the atmosphere in the room, the gaze on their face, change? What does a child look like when someone tells her “you’re not who I thought you were” the second she reveals her identity? Why did I feel the urge to lie when people asked me where I was from? Why did I hesitate? Because I was taught to protect myself, but enough is enough. I will not be silent.
Now we are here today, in our own modern al-Nakba, “the catastrophe.” We are here today to remember the story behind this name, to bring power to this name, to remind everyone that even decades after the 1948 war, it is still going on.
How long are we going to keep doing this? We see a huge bombardment, we publish about it, we move on. A big incident happens once again overseas, we panic for a week and then move on. Don’t people see that this is happening every day? There is a lot hypothetical questions in this opinion piece, but that’s because I’m really and totally confused by several groups of people.
If we continue to ignore the atrocities facing the Palestinian people, at some point there will be no more Palestinians in Palestine. There will be no more resistance. The Palestinians need our support and attention more than ever. Without media attention, the Israeli government will continue to kill Palestinians quietly and without consequence.
This is not a call for you to choose your side. This is not a fight over religion. It is not a conflict. It’s not complicated. It’s a extremely Simple material. And for those who still choose to be silent because they are “not educated on the subject”, allow me to explain: human beings are killed.
We are in the midst of ethnic cleansing and genocide. If you only really perceive politics and economics when you see the image of a dying child with half his body burned, then you are missing the big picture: Palestinians are being murdered on their own land.