The current Palestinian uprising has provided an opportunity to analyse, and reject, the dissociation imposed upon Palestine by the international community. Social media has been replete with graphic images of Israeli settler and state violence against Palestinians, which is normally referred to as “escalating tensions” by international organisations and media. Away from the instant accessibility of visual material, the international community continues with its selective publicity, thus suffocating not only the ongoing resistance, but also retaining command over the choice and elimination of the oppressed voices.
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It is dangerous to cloister Palestinian resistance within a single circumstance. Internationally, Palestine has become little more than fragmented territories that necessitate routine speeches against Israeli violence while bolstering the colonial power with further aid under the pretext of “security” concerns. Meanwhile, Palestinians are exploited across several realms, ensuring the subjugation is persistent on various levels.
Many of Israel’s latest victims are students. It is a fact that the post-Oslo generation has wrested power, at least temporarily, from Palestinian resistance movements and reconnected with their historical roots. However, Israel’s decision to embark upon the default extrajudicial killing of Palestinian students reflects the intention to eliminate, as much as possible, the chance of Palestinians having a strong and functioning society. The international community has little to say, if anything at all, about Israel depriving Palestinian students of their education through a shoot-on-site policy which amounts to murder by any other name.
In 2012, Malala Yousafzai became an overnight celebrity after being shot in the head by Taliban forces because of her advocacy of girls’ education. A few years later, and activism has surrendered to international rhetoric, commemorative appearances and fodder for the West to define who should be upheld as a symbol of resistance against such oppression. Where, I wonder, is the international outrage at Israel’s murder of the Palestinian Malalas on their way to their schools and colleges?
It is particularly difficult to forget UNRWA Commissioner General Pierre Krähenbühl’s words on the occasion of Malala donating $50,000 of the World Children’s Prize to rebuild UNRWA schools in Gaza: “You are an aspirational figure to the next generation of Palestine and beyond.” UNRWA is working in direct contact with Palestinians, yet the murdered Palestinian students are nothing but a statistic to the organisation; presumably the lack of international recognition and monetary awards provide a deterrent to much recognition.
Palestinians have an abundance of aspirational individuals, so there is no need for external symbolism to usurp and dominate any part of their historical narrative. Yet, the international community manipulates events consistently in order to retain a consistent approach as regards preventing a proper discussion of Palestinian resistance. Students are stripped of their identity and rebranded as “stone throwers” or “knife-wielders”, lending further support and, in turn, justification, for Israel’s murderous policies.
The ultimate ignominy, however, is the reinvention of Palestinians into a population whose existence is acknowledged only during structured, premeditated forms of Israeli brutality. There is no focus on Palestinian aspirations, apart from the exploitation of history and memory to construct a context that can be used to further Israel’s narrative. This oblivion is unfortunately serving various interests, including combined efforts to eliminate Palestinian voices that have shunned the intricate web of international law and useless resolutions which seek to restrict the right to legitimate struggle against an extremely illegitimate occupation and colonisation.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.