I struggle to understand how we still need to protest police brutality, blockade, occupation, and ethnic cleansing. How I still need to comment with “today’s tally of dead womenandchildren” on the posts I see discussing security, human shields, security, and what is effective. And how people blindly respond that dead bodies is what is effective because yknow terrorism, tunnels, security, and the economic losses of a shut-down airport.
How many dead bodies makes an operation ineffective?
I guess that that would depend on the color of the bodies.
Brown and black and all of those bodies that are not dominant are continuously dehumanized to justify the violence that takes place against them. A very dear friend sent me a note this morning talking about this, and though I know this is nothing new, I am still consumed with it. It articulates what I have felt while watching the news these past few weeks, and what many have slept with/thought about/woken up to/thought of for decades. When people say “human shields,” what you are saying is that protecting civilians is no longer the occupying force’s responsibility – the Palestinians asked for it. When people say that the military gives ten-minute warnings, what you are saying is that the attacking force is absolved of its obligations to spare civilians – by taking eleven minutes, the Palestinians asked for it. When I comment with “today’s tally of dead womenandchildren” I’m only playing my role in a system that treats brown and black male bodies as inherently violent and born guilty.
What I am saying is that they asked for it.
The three Israeli teens murdered last month got a war to defend those that look like them.
The three Palestinian children that were killed by the Israeli military every nine days for the past thirteen years got a war that now kills one of them every hour.
“It’s because Hamas is their government.”
What you are saying is “they asked for it.”
Let’s reset our watches. In an hour, another Palestinian kid will lose his life because security does not apply to those who look like him.
“It’s because they were with/near/themselves a security threat.”
What you are saying is “they asked for it.”
I am sure that I do not agree with many of my Facebook friends on the causes of this conflict or the solutions. But I like to think that most of us in theory value each other’s lives equally. It is our media/society/and even families that actively push and socialize us not to.
The purpose of my post then is to ask my friends to recognize this and push back. Because talking about policy and solutions right now means we are still not addressing the fact that these policies and solutions are based on understandings that do not adequately value Palestinian people.
Take some moments to witness the occupation in Gaza and find some stories, photos, names that portray Palestinians as humans and not as a death toll. A great source is Ayman Mohyeldin on FB and on Twitter, the NBC correspondent reporting from Gaza through photograph and film. If I had just one opinion to share, it would be to follow him. Some journalist’s photos and videos are a longshot from capturing Palestinian humanity but they are a step in the right direction. For a few days before next liking or sharing a post that supports any militarized state, pro-police or pro-war official, returning soldier, defense operation, or right to security, make sure you know the names, ambitions, type of shelter, water access, food access, potential (or lack of a potential) future of the people that “security” kills. It’s quite a challenge to see the value in every person’s life.
Especially when states ban radio broadcasts naming children killed in Gaza. Or when media conglomerates pull out their Gaza correspondents after they witness the killing of four Palestinian boys playing soccer on the beach. Humanizing people is a really powerful thing because militants and collateral damage and security then no longer suffice as an explanation.
It’s quite a challenge to see the value in every person’s life.
And I do not think this will change everything.
But I do think that when the deaths of people that look like me are mourned equally as the deaths of people who look like you and costs are not measured according to the color of the dead bodies, “they asked for it” will make much less sense and violent policies and violent solutions will become less easy to justify.
And even if you believe they are still justified, even after knowing the stories and the faces, that is still better. Because at least it is now a little harder to stomach the brown and black bodies that serve as fodder.
Follow Ayman Mohyeldin: