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The student news site of Fishers High School, Fishers, Indiana

Tiger Times

The student news site of Fishers High School, Fishers, Indiana

Tiger Times

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From the river to the sea

The Palestinian perspective on recent events, how it has affected them
On+Oct.+12%2C+there+was+a+protest+showing+support+for+Palestinians+in+Gaza+in+the+Monument+Circle.+Protestors+marched+around+Indianapolis+and+then+rallied+around+the+steps+of+Monument+Circle+as+they+chanted+pro-Palestinian+statements.+
Photo by Malak Samara
On Oct. 12, there was a protest showing support for Palestinians in Gaza in the Monument Circle. Protestors marched around Indianapolis and then rallied around the steps of Monument Circle as they chanted pro-Palestinian statements.

Malak Samara is a senior and the Editor-in-Chief for the Fishers Tiger Times. Her views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper. 

The first and only time I have ever been to Palestine was in 2010, when I was five years old. I remember being so overwhelmed by the culture, a culture the West taught me to hate, that I did not appreciate it as much as I should have. I felt so bothered by the fact that I could not understand an ounce of Arabic and connect with the people who were supposedly connected to me. I remember hating the experience so much because I felt so isolated, that I hoped to never go back again. Now, I yearn for a Palestine where my biggest concern is my inability to communicate with my people. Instead, I am constantly worrying about who the next Palestinian tragedy will be. What will the next statistic be that pops up on my feed? What new way have the Israeli soldiers found to torture my people? When will I be able to go back to my own homeland and experience my beautifully enriching culture?

On Oct. 12 I attended a Palestinian protest to show my unwavering support and pride to my nation. As we were marching around Monument Circle in Indianapolis, I felt an overwhelming sense of clarity. When I saw the plethora of people from different walks of life who supported my nation, it fueled me even more to strongly speak out about the atrocities being imposed on my people. This feeling became superfluous when my dad started emphasizing to my brothers and I that this truly is a matter of human rights, and not one side versus another. He started preaching about how there were Muslims, Christians, Jews, Arabs and Americans, people from every walk of life were present. As he was expressing how proud he was of our nation and the fact that it brought so many people together, protesters started circling around him, listening to what he had to say.

 I saw a spark ignite within my dad that day, feeling as though he was truly being listened to, something that we had not felt in such a long time. He started expressing to the group of people that Palestinians have grown up with genocide, and now is the time to stop it. He continued hitting on the fact that anti-semitism and the eradication of Jews within Palestine was never the goal, he only wanted our people to be free, to be treated as humans and for our land to be righteously returned. I remember crying, feeling so moved by the fact that even with all of the turmoil he has had to endure throughout his entire life, he still was able to recognize that hate on any side is unwarranted and unnecessary. 

 

History:

 

The history of the situation between the Palestinians and Israelis is very profound and dates all the way back to 1917 with the Balfour Promise. In 2021, I wrote an article that briefly touched on key events surrounding this situation, however, I think it is important to touch on a couple of those points once again in order to fully grasp the event that occurred on Oct. 7. 

In 1917, the Balfour Promise declared that Jews were allowed their own state. While, in theory, this seemed like a good idea in order to create a safe haven for a minority that has gone through turmoil, the state resided in Palestine, which already had a civilization, culture and history of its own. At first, Palestinians and Jews lived in peace, Palestinians welcomed Jews with open arms. However, in 1948 Al Nakba (which is Arabic for the Catastrophe) occurred where 15,000 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces and 700,000 Palestinians were displaced. Since so many Palestinians were forced out of their land, this allowed an easy takeover of their land for the Zionist Israelis. Ever since then, Palestinian land has been reduced to two main parts: the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. What once used to be such a beautifully enriching and flourishing area for Palestinians, is now two very small pieces of land that face constant oppression from their occupiers. 

Ever since Al Nakba, many restrictions were put on the Palestinians and many of their rights were stripped away from them. For one, anyone who was born in Palestine after 1948 was unable to receive Palestinian citizenship. This included those who had not yet gained citizenship before 1948. The most vital part of our identity, our nationality, was wiped away from existence. I will never have the official documentation that proves I am of Palestinian descent. Neither will my parents, and neither will my grandparents. That is three generations stripped of their right to their very own identity. 

Further, according to Amnesty International, in 2018 the Israeli constitution officially enshrined the land to be for “the Jewish people,” meaning laws, acts and decisions will be made in favor of Jewish people, only. This inherently and, by nature, automatically discriminates against anyone who does not share that same religious affiliation. This puts all Palestinians, including those who reside in the occupied parts of Palestine, at a disadvantage and a secondary level in terms of rights compared to their Jewish counterparts. They are often referred to as “sub-humans” further implementing the idea that their lives and needs do not share the same importance as those who are Jewish. 

Amnesty International has also found that ever since the 1990s, Israel has implemented a blockade on Gaza, building a 700 km fence (that is still being expanded) and controlling the air, land and sea space, making it impossible for the Gazans to move freely. 

I believe it should be emphasized that Hamas was not formed until nearly 40 years after Al-Nakba, in 1987. Further, they were not put into power until 2005. A lot of people are quick to assume that the turmoil both Palestinians and Israelis face is due to the formation of Hamas. However, what was the Israeli military ‘protecting’ themselves from 40 years before Hamas was formed? What was the reason for imposing a blockade on Gaza before Hamas attained power? 

Let’s assume, however, that Hamas is the doer of all evil and they are the reason for violence within my home country. To quote Bassem Youssef, who is an Egyptian-American TV host who also advocates for Palestine’s liberation, let’s imagine a world without Hamas. Let’s give this world a name. Let’s name it the West Bank. Hamas has no control, whatsoever, in the West Bank, however, they are still being carpet bombed, targeted and oppressed. 

According to the National Public Radio, on Jan. 30, the Israeli military raised a hospital in the West Bank and killed three Palestinians. Ever since October, 400 Palestinians in the West Bank have been killed, even though they have no connection to Hamas, so the argument that ‘they were trying to eliminate Hamas’ does not hold true. My own mother and her family, who did not reside in Gaza, were kicked out of their home by the Israeli military and forced to flee out of Palestine. What was the Israeli military protecting themselves from then? My mom, who was a child, and her younger siblings? There is no excuse for these acts of violence other than the pure intention to occupy the entire area and eradicate the Palestinians. 

 

Recent Events:

 

Ever since Oct. 7, Israel has been imposing a constant genocide on my people in the Gaza Strip. There have been constant bombings of hospitals, households, schools and places of worship, all for the ‘intention’ to eliminate Hamas even though only approximately 60 of the 30,000 killed by the Israeli military have been Hamas members. According to the Middle East Eye, on Feb. 2 humanitarian aid trucks were blocked from entering Gaza even though those who have survived are in dire need of food and are in critical condition. 

In addition to the 30,000 Palestinians who have died due to the Israeli military’s relentless attacks, approximately 1.3 million have been displaced; this is more than half of the population that once resided in Gaza. About half of those who have died due to this genocide are children. I also want to emphasize that the number of deaths does not include those who have died due to starvation, being crushed by the rubble and of fatal injuries. This means that the number of deaths is much higher than what is being reported. 

Something that is not reported on as often is the treatment of those who still remain alive. Older men and little boys are being held captive, stripped down and tortured until they are inevitably shot in the head. While we do need to protect the women and children of this conflict, men are still very much human beings and their deaths hurt just as much. Muslim women have to sleep in their hijabs because they have already accepted the reality that they will most likely die in their own homes, somewhere that should be a place of comfort, and they want to ensure they are covered up when their bodies are discovered. Further, women have started to resort to using unsanitary pieces of fabric; anything ranging from tents to pillows to scrap clothes as a substitute for period products because they do not have access to anything. 

While these atrocities are not much different from the apartheid Palestinians have been enduring for the past 75+ years, there is one key difference between then and now: people are finally educating themselves on the topic. Before the events of Oct. 7, Israel had complete control over the media. There were two different responses I would get from people who were not Arab when Palestine was brought up: they would either show complete support for Israel or they would say the ‘issue was too complicated for them to comment on.’ For me, the second option was always better because that meant they were not completely believing the lies that the Israeli government would spread about my people, such as the fact that they were ‘human animals’ and wanted to kill all of the Jews. Now, however, Palestine has completely taken over the media due to brave journalists such as Motaz Azaiza, Bisan Owda, Plestia Alaqad and many more. Now, when people say the issue is too complicated, I know they are choosing to ignore what is happening to my people and are unwilling to recognize that genocide is being imposed on Palestinians because there is no escape from it. 

 

How does this affect the U.S.? 

 

What confuses me most about the U.S.’s involvement and complicity with the genocide against Palestinians is that it completely contradicts their views on the genocide being imposed on the Ukrainians, or even what we are taught in school about the apartheid that was imposed on Black South Africans. Israel is Palestine’s Russia and white oppressors. They are being ruthlessly bombed and attacked so that their land can be taken over, just like Ukraine, and they are treated as secondary citizens with few rights and limited necessities, just like the apartheid in South Africa. Why did people seem to care so much about those two situations, asking how we allowed it to happen, but now when they are presented with the same situation, they stay silent, the U.S. even showing support for the oppressors? Even though Ukraine and South Africa are far from the U.S. and many people probably do not have a direct relationship with the two countries, there is still so much empathy toward those who are enduring injustice. 

While people should not have a personal or close relationship with Palestine in order to recognize that genocide is wrong and we, as humanity, should fight against it, there still are many connections to those who are being brutally killed in Gaza and the West Bank to America. According to Al Jazeera, on Oct. 14, 2023, 6-year-old Palestinian boy Wadea Fayoume in Illinois was stabbed 26 times by his landlord solely for the fact that he was Palestinian and Muslim. His mother also faced attacks and was rushed to the emergency room, unable to attend her own son’s funeral. 

This event occurred merely a week after the news broke out about the tensions rising between Palestine and Israel. After countless dehumanizing remarks that not only Israeli officials made, but our own government made, the hate crimes against Palestinians and those who did not support genocide spread like wildfire. 

On Nov. 25, three Palestinians who were wearing kuffiyehs (a traditional Palestinian scarf that represents resilience and different parts of Palestinian culture) were shot, two were killed and one has been paralyzed ever since. 

As the Israeli military continues to brutally attack my people and spread misinformation/hateful propaganda, in addition to the propaganda the U.S. government spreads, Palestinians are not safe. They are not safe in their own country, and not even in the countries they go to in order to flee constant genocide, this includes the U.S. 

It has gotten so concerning that there are Palestinian mothers and fathers teaching their little kids that Palestine is a bad word so they do not talk about it in public where they can be targeted and harmed. Every day I wear the kuffiyeh or traditional Palestinian scarf in order to keep the conversation about Palestine going as well as show my condemnation of the genocide being imposed on my people, and my own mother, who has the most pride in our country of anyone that I know, has spent days trying to convince me not to wear it so often because she genuinely fears for my life. 

Therefore, while Palestine may feel like it is so far away that you cannot possibly find it in your heart to condemn genocide, know that there may be a Palestinian in your class, neighborhood or even friend group that is constantly fearing for their lives as violence against us continues to rise. We do not have a place to go back to in order to feel welcomed and safe. 

 

Palestinians outside of Palestine: 

 

One of the first things I am asked when someone finds out I am Palestinian is: “Do you have any family in Gaza?” As soon as I say that most of my family resides in the West Bank or, if they are lucky, Jordan, the concern and empathy is immediately wiped off their face. While I completely agree that having immediate family in Gaza must make this entire situation so much more difficult for my Palestinian brothers and sisters, that does not mean that this situation has not affected me day in and day out. 

I see every single Palestinian, whether they are directly related to me or not, as my brother and sister. They are all a part of my family. They all share the same culture, ethnicity, language and blood as me. Each time a Palestinian is killed, that is a part of my country and even identity that is being taken away from me. Every time a Palestinian little kid is affected by this genocide, whether that means they are crushed by the rubble, their parents are taken away from them or they are killed by the Israeli military, I see my little 4-year-old sister, Celine. Celine is the light of my life and means more than the world to me. How would I react if she had to endure the same hardships as Palestinians in Gaza? How would I be able to live if she were taken away from me the same way little kids are taken away from their families in Gaza? I feel those same personal feelings I would feel for my little sister for all of the 12,000+ Palestinian kids that are killed because of the ethnic cleansing Israel is imposing. 

While I do not have immediate family in Gaza, my family, country, culture and identity are still being taken away from me with every life that is taken by the hands of the Israeli government. 

When everything first started happening, I felt so overwhelmed by the situation. Even though my people have been enduring genocide for 75+ years and it is something I have grown up with, the fact that the brutality was starting to pass Al Nakba and it was so serious that even news outlets did a complete 180 in the way they reported on Palestine, it started to affect me more than usual. You would think that by now, us Palestinians would be numb to the loss we have endured because of how often it happens. 

If you know me at all, you know I am someone who has always put emphasis on the importance of my school work and spends hours upon hours on assignments to ensure I achieve good grades. Last semester, after Oct. 7, however, it was a completely different story. My routine consisted of going home, scrolling on TikTok for hours to keep up with all of the atrocities that were being imposed on my people, crying because I felt so helpless, reposting on my story hoping that there would be enough pushback that a ceasefire would finally be called, sleeping so I could have a break from thinking about the gruesomeness of it all, waking up to go to school where I would disassociate because my mind was constantly occupied by the genocide, then I would repeat. There was no room in my schedule for schoolwork. Not only that but doing schoolwork felt so useless; what was the point of doing it when my own people are undergoing genocide? Homework felt so worthless, so small compared to that. 

That sentiment is another part of being a Palestinian in America: the guilt that comes along with it. Here I was, a Palestinian with the honor of having that identity, an identity that is so closely tied to resilience, pride and strength, but I was not undergoing nearly the same hardships as my people back home. I get to have a roof over my head, I get to have food, I get to have water, I get to have an education, I get to have a childhood, I get to go to sleep at night peacefully, yet I have the same identity as my brothers and sisters in Gaza? I feel so guilty and wrong that I get to be Palestinian and live in luxury, while my counterparts in my country are constantly fearing for their lives. Why did I get to worry about whether I would be able to submit my assignment by 11:59 whereas those in Gaza had to worry about whether they would live to see another day? 

I eventually snapped out of this mindset after I came to the realization that in order to make up for my privileges as a Palestinian in America, I would need to use my resources to help my people and country. I realized that I have the opportunity to work hard for a future where I can truly make a difference for my country, one where I would do more than just repost on my Instagram story to an audience that may not fully understand the grasp of the situation. 

 

What can you do to help? 

 

I think a lot of people who do not have a position of power overlook their power as consumers. Unfortunately, the cold hard truth is: money makes the world go ‘round. While it is sad that we do not put human rights and lives above money, this is something we, as normal people, can use to our advantage. We can boycott companies and stop funding organizations/people that support genocide. Companies that are most commonly known for their complicity in genocide include, but are not limited to, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Disney, HP and many more that the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) organization has found would be most effective to boycott. BDS has provided further insight into why these companies should be boycotted, such as their funding toward apartheid ideals or censoring their workers from showing support to Palestine. For example, HP helps run systems that Israel uses to restrict Palestinian movement. 

While it may seem as though your contributions, or lack thereof, may not make much of a difference, if everyone has that mindset then the boycott would inherently be ineffective. It has been proven that the boycotts are very much making a difference. Starbucks has lost $12 billion and has closed down countless stores due to the fact that they are no longer attracting customers or traffic. McDonald’s has also admitted that their quarterly sales target was not met for the first time in four years due to the boycotts. 

Furthermore, mere representation is also extremely important. If someone is holding a Starbucks cup, it shows their complicity in genocide and willingness to fund it. It also gives the message to other people that we are not taking it seriously when in reality we are. If there are fewer people with Starbucks, not only will there be less money funding a genocide, but there will also be fewer people who will be comfortable carrying around a cup with their logo. Therefore, continue to boycott until a ceasefire is called and the companies stop supporting oppression. 

Continue to speak out against the atrocities being imposed on my people. The more noise we create around Palestine, the more our representatives and people in power will have to listen. Due to our efforts and protests, we have been able to achieve a temporary ceasefire, a change in the way the news covers the atrocities Palestinians are facing and South Africa has charged Israel with genocide in the International Court of Justice. 

Lastly, but most importantly, continue to listen to Palestinians. Our voices and stories have been silenced for far too long, it is our turn to speak and expose Israel for the harm they have been inflicting on my people for almost a century. Follow the Palestinian journalists who bravely risk their lives every day just so the world can finally see the atrocities with their own eyes. Stop turning a blind eye to these atrocities and getting used to the genocide, because once you do, the lives lost turn into just numbers on a screen and you lose compassion for humans who are just like you. Call for a ceasefire and for the complete liberation of Palestine, and do not stop until that is achieved. Liberation of Palestine not only means that the land is returned to the rightful owners, but that people of every religion can live in peace and as equals, This was exactly the case before Israel started their occupation. Do not stop until this is achieved, until we can say that from the river to the sea, Palestine is free.

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Malak Samara, Editor-in-Chief
Malak Samara is a senior at Fishers High School. She heavily enjoys law and loves to write, draw, read, listen to music, and hang out with her friends!

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