Do you remember that scene in The Hunger Games, Mockingjay Part One when the Capital bombs a hospital and Katniss gives that emotional speech ending with “If we burn, you burn with us”. The cinema I watched it in burst into applause, with some people even getting up from their seats, and I’m not embarrassed to admit that I was one of them. When I think of that scene now I think of the situation in Palestine, with Israel playing the part of The Capital, the evil occupying force, bombing hospitals and killing innocent children, simply because they have the wealth and power to do so, and because everyone is too afraid to stand up to them. I wonder, how many of us, who felt so roused watching the above scene in a movie are brave enough to play the part of Katniss in real life and stand up for the oppressed people of Palestine.
As is becoming a tradition of the occupying forces, every Ramadan they storm the Al Aqsa compound, knowing that worshippers will be engaged in praying Taraweeh, a special night time prayer in the month of Ramadan. For two consecutive nights they terrorised those who were observing their religious practise of nightly prayers and stormed into the mosque, armed to their teeth with tear gas, rubber-coated bullets, stun grenades and beating the attendees with batons. Imagine, the most ‘moral army in the world’ attacking an unarmed congregation as they bow down in prostration. Where is your outrage at this cowardly act?
Yes, the continued occupation of Palestine IS a Muslim issue. The Al Aqsa compound is the third most holy site for Muslims and Ibn Abbas (رضي الله عنه) said of Al – Quds (Jerusalem) “There is not a single handspan in Al-Quds (Jerusalem) except where a Prophet has not prayed or an Angel not stood”. [Tirmidhi, Ahmad]. As Muslims all over the world read the Qur’an, they will find so many references to the Holy Land, including the birth of Isa /Jesus (AS) but probably most notably in surah Al-Isra, The Night Journey, where the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was taken on a night journey from Makkah to Masjid Al Aqsa and then up through the heavens. This was during a truly testing period in the Prophets (ﷺ) life and the surah reminds us of the power of sincere dua and that Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى is truly the Best of Planners and the Best of Helpers. Recently Muslims have witnessed the burning of Qur’ans in Europe and its made us feel both sad and angry, so I ask you, where is your outrage at the continued occupation of the land of the Prophets? At the desecration of our original qibla (direction of prayer) and of the continued brutalisation of the Palestinian people. Surly the sanctity of life is worth more of our tears and emotions.
The freedom of Palestine is also an anti-colonialist issue. It’s a human rights issue. It’s a racism issue. It is also a climate change issue (these are all intersectional), so if you care about any ONE of these you must also care about the freedom of the Palestinian people. It’s Ramadan, and I had hoped to have a break from social media to concentrate on my soul and rejuvenate my spirit, but once again the actions of Israel bring me back to this space to condemn their continued terrorisation of Palestine. And because I’m a Muslim, because I care about human rights, because I am anti racist and because I care about the environment, I want to do whatever I can to ensure that I play my (miniscule) part in the liberation of Palestine, even if it’s just a blog post or a tweet. Where is your outage and how can you channel that into something productive?
If somehow an occupation continues to seem “complicated” to you, just think about Ukraine and Russia, which in truth is far more complex but seems to have galvanised and inspired many into action. Russia wants Ukraine so it decided to invade the country in February 2022 after almost 8 years of hostilities between the two states. This invasion was widely condemned by America, Europe and the British. Palestine was occupied by the British, who in 1917 issued a public statement, The Balfour Declaration, proclaiming their support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Although the British government at the time used the term “in Palestine” they insisted that the Jewish National home was not intended to cover all of Palestine. In 1939 they acknowledged that the local population’s views should have been taken into account, and more recently in 2017 they accepted the declaration should have called for the protection of the Palestinian Arabs’ political rights. As you can see from any map of Palestine from 1946 to present day, the creeping colonisation, annexing, imperialism or invasion of the land by the occupying force, Israel, is continuing to this very day. Palestinians are holding on to the last remnants of their land, while the countries that today condemn Russia, are proactively funding and arming Israel. Where is your outrage?
Israel is not a normal state, and so I urge you to not see it as such. If you think Qatar had blood on its hands, or China is authoritarian and North Korea is unstable then why do we give Israel a pass? Where is your outrage when Israel is allowed to participate in international football or European singing competitions while the Gaza strip is described by many as the world’s largest open-air prison, with approximately 2 million Palestinians living behind a blockade and are refused access to the other occupied Palestinian areas and the rest of the world. Where is your outrage when Israel advertises itself as a holiday destination when ” Israel’s military rule disrupts every aspect of daily life in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It continues to affect whether, when and how Palestinians can travel to work or school, go abroad, visit their relatives, earn a living, attend a protest, access their farmland, or even access electricity or a clean water supply. It means daily humiliation, fear and oppression. People’s entire lives are effectively held hostage by Israel” (From Amnesty International) Where is your outrage when social media giant Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram, censored social media posts by Palestinians and their supporters, including on human rights abuses?
It is important for me to break my social media fast to speak out against Israel and its merciless attacks on Palestinian’s because I know our media won’t. Not a single newspaper or mainstream broadcasting channel will call Israel out for its constant brutality and its Apartheid regime, and yet they will bend over backwards in attempting to humanise them. As if young people throwing stones are somehow equivalent to the the world’s fourth strongest army, behind Russia, The United States and China. Consider the size of these countries compared to the tiny (and illegal) state of Israel. Yet somehow the Palestinians are demonised. They who have lost their land, live in refugee camps and whose every movement is dictated by the occupying force are painted as the terrorists? How have we allowed this to go on for over half a century? Can you believe we allow young people from this country to go to Israel and serve in the Israeli army? How is it ok for an occupying force to be so legitimised in our eyes that we even let British Jewish citizens fight in their army? Where is your outrage that some people lose their citizenship while other get paid to be part of an occupying force?
History has shown us again and again that all empires fall. If you are from the Abrahamic faiths you’ll know how David beat Goliath and Moses, with the help of God, defeated the might of the Pharaoh. And as we witness at the end of The Hunger Games, The Capital and its armed forces were all dissolved. Victory is with the people. And in the blessed month of Ramadan, in which the Quran was revealed to our beloved prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) not only as a guide to all of humanity, but also as a source of comfort to him (ﷺ) as he struggled with the people of Mecca. The teachings of the Qur’an remind us that Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى is with the patient and is the One Who Decrees. As we approach these final 10 days of Ramadan, one of which is The Night of Power, or The Night of Decree, I ask you all to remember Palestine and her people in your duas, and also to remain hopeful, because Palestine will be free, inshahAllah. But I also want you to be proactive with your outrage. Write to your MP’s, boycott Israeli products and stand together with the Palestinian people. We can be louder than the media if we all speak up and out against injustices. Blog, tweet, gram, update your WhatsApp status, share a picture or retweet something. We all wield some power and influence no matter now small it is never insignificant. And remember, in the end the good guys always win.