Recently, the biggest news in the Middle East revolved around none other than Jerusalem. December 6th, 2017: President Trump declared that Jerusalem, the historic capital of Palestine, was to be recognized as the capital of the Israeli Zionist Occupation. Why does this matter? Here’s a short trip through time for clarity:
Before 1917, Palestine had been part of the Ottoman Empire for 400 years. In 1917, a declaration was written. The Declaration of Balfour stated that Palestine will become a homeland for Zionist Jews. Jewish professor Avi Shlaim explains this action as taken by Britain for political reasons- i.e. for Zionists to become a powerful ally to Britain. The issue, as George Galloway, a Scottish politician, puts it: “One people promised to a second people a land that belonged to a third people”.
In 1948, Zionist armed groups assisted by British troops ruthlessly destroyed 533 Palestinian towns, committed 33 massacres, and expelled over 700,000 Palestinians. During the 1948 Catastrophe, or “Nakba”, in Arabic, Palestine experienced its first ethnic cleansing.
Even now, Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, just 22% of Palestine’s land, are restricted from travelling, even within that territory, and are discriminated against by the Israeli government. Israeli settlements are continually expanded illegally, and Israeli laws justify the unreasonable arrests and indefinite detention of innocents. These savage laws allow innocent Palestinians to be detained, tortured, and killed in custody, while ensuring they must continue serving their sentence even after death.
Israel has ignored 79 resolutions issued by the United Nations from 1948 – 2009 condemning Israel for international and humanitarian violations. To this day, as illegal settlements expand, Palestinian families are forcefully evicted, made to abandon their land and only lives they’ve ever known, to face the reality that their human rights are worthless. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
To this day, the atrocities continue. That’s why this is important. As a Palestinian American, I find myself in situations where I have to choose sides. While I’m proud of belonging to two great nations, I must always choose justice. I must always choose truth. When that means opposing my nation’s choice to aid directly in the destruction of my land, culture, and people, I do it gladly, patriotically even.
US support of the Israeli occupation is shameful, a crime against humanity, and all people should know this. The Palestinian people need us, world citizens, to dare to seek the truth, to dare to oppose oppression, and to dare to demand justice. Jerusalem, which rests on Palestinian land in the West Bank, has been, is, and will forever remain, the capital of the proud nation of Palestine.