On October 7, 2023, Hamas launched an attack on Israel. Hamas is a group that has controlled the Gaza strip since 2007 and is labeled as a terrorist organization “by the United States, Israel and other countries,” according to the New York Times. This invasion is but one episode in an ongoing series of conflicts over control of Palestine. Since 1967, Israel has controlled the West Bank and Gaza strip, according to Vox. These two areas – West Bank and Gaza strip – house large Palestinian populations, so it is considered Palestine.
Following the surprise attack, Israel responded by “besieging and bombarding the Gaza Strip,” the New York Times reported. This has included bombing hospitals and killing off entire bloodlines. NPR reported that “More than 11,200 Palestinians in Gaza have died, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza. An additional 196 Palestinians in the West Bank have died since Oct. 7, according to health officials in Gaza.” Despite this violence, criticisms of Israel have been labeled as anti-Semitic.
In an open letter for n+1, a group of Jewish entertainers posited that criticisms of Israel are not inherently anti-Semitic. “Israel and its defenders have long used this rhetorical tactic to shield Israel from accountability,” the letter stated. Israel has had a stronghold on Palestine since 1967, and they have occupied this land by force. When thinking of this occupation, it is impossible not to consider another very prominent occupation – the U.S. occupation of Native territory. With Thanksgiving approaching, it is important to reflect on our shared history. Like Israel, the U.S. has occupied this territory for decades through violence.
This is why I stand with Palestine in their time of need. From one resident of an occupied territory to another, I can understand the devastation caused by occupiers. Moreover, the violence we see in Gaza mirrors the violence we see in America when we resist the U.S. occupation. So, when we say, “Free Palestine,” it is similar to when we say “Black Lives Matter.” We are not calling for violence toward the other side but for a ceasefire to the violence we are experiencing. And if all lives matter, shouldn’t Palestinian lives matter too?