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One small, red triangle: Palestine, we are finally looking

November 23, 2023 at 7:56 pm

A protester holds an inverted “red triangle”, a symbol that the Palestinian Hamas movement’s military wing Al-Qassam Brigades uses to identify Israeli targets in their videos, during a solidarity sit-in with the Gaza Strip, in Manama on November 17, 2023,[MAZEN MAHDI/AFP via Getty Images]

Did you know that there was an international conference held in France on 9 November under the title ‘International Humanitarian Conference for Gaza’s Civilian Population’?

According to the French Foreign Ministry website, the conference “involved states, main donors, international organisations and NGOs active in Gaza” with the declared objective of promoting “compliance with international humanitarian law, the protection of civilians and humanitarian staff, and the strengthening of humanitarian access”.

If you did not know, we do not blame you. The conference, after all, was meant to distract from the Israeli genocide in Gaza, by giving the impression that Western governments still have the political power to control or, at least, influence the future of Gaza.

As French President, Emmanuel Macron, was preaching about international and humanitarian laws, we were busy looking elsewhere.

Backed by unhinged US administration and corporate media since 7 October, Israel has also wanted us to look their way.

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To ensure our gaze remained fixated on Tel Aviv’s political priorities, they fabricated an unprecedented amount of lies; those lies, with time, proved to be part of a centralised Israeli propaganda campaign aimed at lessening the impact of Israel’s military defeat on the collective Israeli psyche.

Additionally, Israel’s hasbara masters wanted to keep feeding already biased Western media with all the needed negative content to wage a defamation war against Palestinians, Gaza and its Resistance.

Not only did Israeli hasbara backfire, but it also showed how low Israel is willing to sink to distract from its genocide in Gaza. By feeding into an existing racist narrative in mainstream media about the supposed savagery and the barbarity of Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, Israel wanted to pose as the protector of Western civilisation and democracy.

This false construct, with time, began falling apart and, again, we looked elsewhere in our search for answers. We looked at Gaza itself, at the atrocities committed by Israel at every hospital, school and neighbourhood.

We looked at the lifeless bodies of hundreds, in fact thousands, of Palestinian children, women and civilians, strewn in every street corner, under rubble, even on their own hospital beds.

We looked at Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital, Al-Fakhoura School and Nuseirat Refugee camp, Al-Fallujah, Jabalya, Khan Yunis and every inch of Gaza that has been bombed, at times repeatedly, since 7 October.

The Palestinians themselves were pointing us to where we should be looking – in fact, to where we should have always been looking.

Relentlessly and with unweakened resolve, ordinary people, often weeping, would point at mass graves, at their dead children in their arms, at mutilated bodies of children in hospital morgues, in parking lots, in the streets, and they would say “Look”, “Look what Israel is doing to us”, “Look what the Nazis have done to our children”, and so on.

The word ‘look’, here, is key. When they say ‘look’, they actually mean look, understand, help, do something, anything.

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But Palestinian Resistance on the ground, the only actual defenders of those civilians, however uncomfortable this realisation makes some of us feel, was also telling us to look, and we did.

In this case, they did not make the announcement ‘Look’ or ‘Shufu’ out loud. Instead, they simply used a small, red triangle, the symbolism of which is likely to influence a generation of Palestinians and millions of youth around the world.This small, red triangle started as a functional tool in well-produced videos released by the Al-Qassam Brigades, urging us to focus on a specific point in the videos documenting their daily operations against invading Israeli forces.

Amid massive ruins, half-standing buildings, dust and smoke, a small, red triangle would finally appear within this obvious context. To understand the function of this triangle, we needed to understand the story behind it, thus explaining, without a single word, why Palestinians resist.

The equation then becomes simple to understand: Israeli destruction, red triangle, explosion – followed by triumphant shouts of ‘God is great’, ‘Palestine will be free’, and ‘The invaders will be defeated’.

With time, that functionality of the red triangle was transformed to even greater meaning, deeper symbolism.

As millions of people continued to protest Israeli atrocities in Gaza, many carried banners and flags of the red triangle. For them, this symbol not only represented more than Palestinian Resistance in Gaza, but the need for action everywhere else.

Some suggested that the symbolism of the red triangle was inspired by the red triangle of the Palestinian flag, thus arguing that that specific symbol was chosen to purposely delineate a greater national symbol.

In truth, the origins of the small, red triangle do not matter. Sure, maybe it was intended to represent something or maybe it was simply a technical choice made by a young Palestinian tech-savvy fighter, to simply let us know where we needed to look.

What truly matters, however, are the deeper meanings of all of this.

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For years – in fact decades – Palestinians have been urging us to look: at their lives under Israeli occupation and apartheid; at the destruction of their homes and orchards, confiscated or stolen by the Israeli military and illegal Jewish settlers; at the fate of their prisoners, thousands of them, languishing in Israeli prisons, simply for resisting the Israeli military occupation; at the Israeli siege on Gaza, and that perpetual episode of suffering and pain, which deprived over two million people of their most basic rights; and at so much more.

Unfortunately, and for whatever reason, many of us did not look.

Thanks to the courage of the Palestinians themselves, and to the ongoing Israeli genocide in Gaza, we are finally looking, and we are looking precisely where Palestinians want us to look.

US President Joe Biden could now say whatever he wants in defence of Israel; Macron could hold ten more conferences and pretend to speak on behalf of the international community regarding the Gaza holocaust and Israel could fabricate a million more lies. But we refuse to look at any of them. We refuse to engage with any of them. Their words, or action or inaction are no longer a priority for us.

Only the Palestinian political discourse matters. Only Palestinian freedom is a priority. Only Palestinian Resistance can push back the Israeli invaders. In short, the priorities of the oppressed, not the oppressor, should matter to all of us.

Indeed, it is about time for the Palestinian voice to reclaim its full centrality in the story of oppression and resistance. So, please, from now on, look, listen and act, in whichever capacity possible. And if you ever struggle in deciphering the difference between Palestinian priorities and all others, simply look for that small, red triangle. It will guide you.

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The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.