Guardian: Toni Morrison wrote in her novel Beloved, “Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.” Palestinians have learned the hard way that unless we clearly define ourselves, our oppression, and our aspirations, the hegemonic oppressor will do it, erasing our history and subjugating our future.
Sometimes our definitions emerge when unexpected. Three days ago, following a nearby Israeli airstrike targeting a residential neighborhood in Gaza city that shook their building, my friend’s young daughter ran terrified to her mother’s arms shivering. She asked, “I want to be courageous, mama, but I don’t know how when death is so near?” Her question itself, during a televised massacre, defines courage. Palestinians are shattering our fear every day and hoping, and working to ensure, that this courage inspires millions to speak out and act in an effective way to end complicity in Israel’s oppression.
The current Israeli war against Palestinians – in Gaza, Jerusalem, Lydd, Acre, Haifa and elsewhere – and the Palestinian resistance evoke multiple definitions. Conflict, apartheid, resistance, retaliation, self-defense, ethical journalism, co-existence, and justice are among the definitions that are hotly contested. Sometimes the debate itself is used to justify an immoral both-sides-ing that stymies indignation and the duty to act.
To remind the world of this duty, and to protest Israel’s horrific attacks, part of what many Palestinians define as an ongoing Nakba, Palestinians everywhere observed a general strike on Tuesday. Through it, we asserted our unity as an Indigenous people with an overarching quest for liberation, and reiterated our appeal for meaningful international solidarity, especially in the form of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).