I woke up to the news and fear cut into me for my family in Israel. Where are they right now? I felt one moment of the fear that Palestinians live with.
No false equivalence: nothing about this is equal.
In video, Israeli police are heavily armed and armoured, backed by courts of ethnic law. Palestinians stand their ground wearing T-shirts. An armed charge into an unarmed crowd is not a ‘clash,’ it is an assault.
Israeli soldiers have been vaccinated and most Palestinians have not. To hell with Israel’s legal responsibility. They knew that no state would hold them to it, and no state has.
But look – Palestinians are changing the script before our eyes. They are taking authorship.
On May 8, 80,000 Palestinians came to Al Aqsa Mosque. Israeli police had violated their holy place and they came to reclaim it. They overwhelmed the roadblocks and the paramilitary police and faced them down with their bodies and their prayers.
Palestinians protested in Ramallah and Jaffa, in Gaza and in Haifa. They are unstitching the Green Line. Palestinians and their allies are protesting around the world.
Thousands of Israelis have been filmed dancing this morning, delirious at the sight of fire in the Al Aqsa Mosque. In 2014, Israelis sat on the hillsides of Sderot to watch the bombardment of Gaza. I think their desensitized madness has spread; the soullessness that comes from wielding overwhelming violence with impunity.
Wait, look again. In Gaza there is danger of a different magnitude.
Gazan fighters fired rockets to join the uprising, to protest the forced expulsion of Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah. I am not fond of rockets, but having seen both rockets and bombs in action, I would prefer to stand near a rocket than a one-ton bomb. A rocket makes a hole in the ground, while the airborne bombs of the IDF make the earth tremble.
“Israel conducted airstrikes in Gaza on Monday evening, following rocket fire from Gaza that caused damage to one Israeli vehicle, and “lightly injured” one Israeli civilian, according to an Israeli army statement.”
Israeli bombs killed 20 Gazans overnight. They killed nine children, and injured scores of people. Let that attest to the relative value placed on one Israeli vehicle and twenty Gazan lives.
International governments condemned the rockets and elided the rest.
Israel, still drunk on its Trump license, may believe it can bomb Gaza with impunity. Gazans, with clarity and unfathomable endurance, with Covid rampant behind a blockade wall, may feel they have less and less to lose.
This is a formula for catastrophe. We must not let it play out again. Gazans are not symbols to be held up as proof after the fact. They are human beings under assault right now, and they need our protection.
Do not tut-tut them all to step back equally, because the inequality of the status quo ante was the cause: a regime of dispossession, apartheid, blockade, ethnically determined lives and life prospects.
We need to respond to the cause and the crimes. We need to demand that our governments uphold the laws they sign in our names to clear the way forward – not back. Intervene, protect, invoke the law, end the Nakba.
Saturday may be Nakba Day, but Nakba is an event in the present tense until we – yes we, calling on law and justice with every means available – bring it to an end.