A Voice For Palestine - What’s Happening in Gaza and How to Help
Recent world events have shaken up the daily course of our lives, and as we sit here miles away, feeling helpless, it’s important that we provide a voice for Palestine.
27 OCT - 2023
As of today, around 7,208 + Palestinian people have been killed in airstrikes, a lot of them being children, women and elderly.
I won’t pretend I’m qualified to write this with the full knowledge and cultural context that speaking on such a matter requires. The truth is, the tension and conflict between Israel and Palestine pre-dates the occupation of the land, andis even biblical. I wasn’t around then, so I can’t speak to why the tension has evolved in such a putrid way over the many centuries since then but watching the world as it is now, I feel a sinking pit in the bottom of my stomach.
This is in no way an anti-Semetic post, as aptly put my Jameela Jamil (who knew the star of ‘The Good Place’ would be so articulate with her words and aptly sum up my feelings to a scenario) “The Israeli government is in the wrong. Not the civilians nor Jewish people worldwide”. This is not the time to engage in anti-Semetic or Islamaphobic commentary or discourse, but the time to use your voice so that people can recognise that a genocide is going on in front of our eyes. Not just in front of us now, but a genocide that’s been going on for the past 75 years.
This has been going on for so long, but unfortunately, we have been ignorant and unaware. As part of this problem, I’ve been educating myself on this matter and have learnt so many things. Did you know that Banksy has been an activist for Palestine for many years? He has frequently snuck into West Bank using tunnels, and on his last venture into Gaza in 2015, he painted murals over the rubble. He painted a mural of a cat stating that “people only pay attention to cat videos”. In a powerful quote he aptly summed up that “Gaza is often described as ‘the world’s largest open air prison’ because no-one is allowed to enter or leave. But that seems a bit unfair to prisons - they don’t have their electricity and drinking water cut off randomly almost every day.”
Banksy's Street Art of a kitten in Gaza
In 2015, Banksy left us with an impactful quote regarding Gaza “If we wash our hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless we side with the powerful - we don’t remain neutral”, and I couldn’t find that to be more true.
For so long, not all news that got through to us was completely distorted. I saw in an article that many years ago, the United States referred to Israel as having the biggest return on investment for a mere $3 billion. The distorted media coverage and wording used to label the Hamas attacks versus the Israel air strikes have been very telling, with language such as “murder”, “terrorists”, “criminal” being used in terms of Hamas, but “defensive” and “helpless” being used in relation to Israel. Unfortunately, the United States and United Kingdom as countries with large power have supported a narrative that further perpetuates this and has disseminated the narrative that “Israel has the right to defend itself” (I’ve watched Piers Morgan speak over almost every extremely eloquent Palestinian representative he has had on his show).
Thanks to the rise of social media, we can now see when we are fed propaganda, and untrue stories. It has been an incredible journey watching a large number of the Jewish community actually un-learn the school of thought that they were raised with while watching this conflict unfold and explain why they are standing for Palestine here. The sad truth is that the western media and outlets have over decades perpetuated the narrative which has underplayed the massacre of Palestinian people. I had never even heard of the airstrikes killing 3,000 in 2015 till I did research and saw that Banksy was so outspoken on it. People really changing the game are journalists such as Motaz Azaiza on the ground in Palestine who have been documenting the harsh and unfathomable reality that people are facing. I applaud his bravery, and note that he is not alone (however there is now record of a lot of other journalists on the ground dying). With every morning that we wake up, Palestine has suffered another night of airstrikes and family members dying.
I am confused, outraged, overwhelmed by the lack of compassion and morality.
I am confused, outraged, overwhelmed by the lack of compassion and morality that we are seeing. There are children dying every single day. We have seen over 7,000 Palestinians killed in the most recent airstrikes and I can’t lie and say that I haven’t been brought to tears when I watch the videos of dead children lying in the rubble when they should be playing outside. Seeing children and their pet kittens trapped under rubble, bloodied and bruised to an unrecognisable extent. Seeing parents holding parts of their decaying children in their hands. Seeing children looking for their parents who are never coming back. Doctors working on the roads without anaesthetic, aiming to save whoever they can by doing whatever they can. The line to get bread is kilometres and kilometres long so people are settling on stale bread to count as the whole week’s sustenance. People are drinking polluted water. People are walking around the street with whatever belongings they have left, wondering where they can seek refuge. I wish we could embed the videos, but they are gruesome and sobering; take my word for it.
We don’t get what life is like for these people, and fortunately for us it is easy to disassociate as it isn’t our lives, right? Luck of the draw is what it was; born somewhere else at a different time and it could have been any of us in that situation. My friend who has been a very vocal activist for the current unfolding in Gaza sent me this video, which is a documentary from the perspective of a Jewish woman called Anna about the colonialism of Palestine. This video was made 9 years ago, but interestingly, not many of the themes have changed.
What is unfathomable to me is that the US has vetoed the UN Security Council decision to provide aid to Gaza. In a statement released by the New Zealand labour party (current government) on 26 October 2023, New Zealand has joined others in the international community calling for a humanitarian pause in Gaza and the immediate establishment of humanitarian corridors and safe areas to protect innocent civilians living in the Gaza strip. I am sorry but at this stage this is not enough. When children are repeatedly killed and living in fear of airstrikes, and the death toll is rapidly inclining toward 10,000, we cannot simply be demanding a humanitarian pause. For weeks we have been demanding our government to ask for a ceasefire.
The biggest thing you can do is get educated on the matter. There are great resources available to read and learn about the conflict. Although I don’t have the depth of knowledge to adequately speak on this matter, there are a number of well educated people. I’ve loved following Riz Ahmed’s activism, and Kehlani. From my learnings, I can see that this is systematic oppression, apartheid and now the eradication of an ethnic group unfolding right in front of our eyes. If we don’t try to take action, all that will be left is rubble. The effects are far-reaching and fortunately, there are a fair amount of easy to follow documentaries out there such as “Born in Gaza” on Netflix, and a number of AlJazeera documentaries. Knowledge is power, and the first step in taking more active steps.
How can we help?
Donate to an NZ charity to help Palestine:
KIWI TRUST FOR PALESTINIAN CHILDREN RELIEF
Ref: Food Parcel/Urgent Financial Assistance
Al Manar Trust
The Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ)
Ref: Palestine Humanitarian Crisis
Overseas charities to help Palestine