The Art of Healing: Liberation for all depends on a free Palestine

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Nelson Mandela, a leader in the fight against apartheid in South Africa, who the world now recognizes as fighting against terrible violence, once said, “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of Palestinians.”

What will it take for us to recognize that what’s happening in Palestine is no different? 

No matter the justification that pro-Israel and Zionist thought bolsters, the reality of the situation is simple: genocide, ethnic cleansing, among many other terrors, are being committed against Palestine. It is state-sanctioned violence, very similar to the state-sanctioned violence here in the U.S., with regular police killings of Black and trans people, the missing and murdered indigenous women who go largely unnoticed by Americans, and the rise of anti-Asian violence. 

What’s happening in Palestine isn’t a conflict. It’s Israeli apartheid. And when we think of colonialism, doesn’t some century far off in history come to mind? Instead, we need to acknowledge that right now, in 2021, modern colonialism is taking place. 

Israeli propaganda being spread by most American media offers the message that it is a “conflict,” and that it is “two-sided.” This is entirely not the case, because the violence is not two-sided. There is one superpower of a colonial state, with billions of dollars in aid from other countries, including the U.S., with one of the most powerful armies in the world. And then there is a state fighting for its existence and safety, armed mainly with rocks to fight against countless bombs and rockets. 

There is also pressure on the world to believe that being against the state of Israel is an antisemitic stance. It is hard for people to distinguish between reparations for Jewish people post-World War II and support for Israel now. Ever since the state of Israel was established on Palestinian land in 1948, America has committed to doing everything in its power to support it. Zionism is the determination to keep Israel in its own state.

But anti-Zionism is not equal to antisemitism. Supporting Israel means support for the Israeli army, which has committed countless atrocities against Palestinians. Rejecting Zionism is a rejection of the current trampling of human rights that has been occurring since 1948.

With this new upcropping of violence, which coincided with the holy month of Ramadan, solidarity that has been shown worldwide and online has been inspiring to see. There is an awakening. It feels like this has been the largest support for Palestine that I’ve experienced. And in my heart, there is hope that in my lifetime, we will see a free Palestine.

Despite the ceasefire that was announced on May 20, Palestinians in East Jerusalem and Gaza still face imminent danger from the foundational reality that Israel’s intentions are to continue to expel Palestinians from their homeland. 

I urge you to tell our senators and U.S. representatives to block arms sales to Israel. Tell Congress that you do not condone the violence against Palestinian families and countless children who only want to live peacefully. 

If you are not speaking up about this violence because you fear hurting people who support Israel, or simply want to remain neutral because it is advertised as a complex issue, you are complicit by nature. This is no time to be silent.

Which side of history will you be on?

Muntaha Mohamed is an artist and activist who works for Portland Empowered, volunteers with Black POWER, and sits on the board of Mindbridge.