Editor’s note: This article contains mentions of violence and graphic imagery.
The horrifying terrorist acts of Hamas took the lives of nearly 700 Israeli civilians Saturday, the most amount of Jews killed in one day since the Holocaust. My thoughts and prayers go out to every single Israeli, Jewish person or any family member who has mourned a loss these past weeks.
Now imagine 75 years of that loss.
For Riad Toukhly, my grandfather, that was his reality. Born in 1941, he only had seven years of youth and life in Jerusalem before Israeli soldiers stripped him of his home, his innocence and the lives of two of his sisters.
This day would be known in history as the Nakba, which means catastrophe in Arabic. Mass displacements, persecution and ethnic cleansing of indigenous Palestinians at the hands of Zionists looking to expand their settlement.
That was 75 years ago, and my grandpa has not been back. He can’t go back. There is nothing left for him to go back to.
I want to make it clear I completely denounce and am horrified by the acts of Hamas. It seems expressing a pro-Palestianian stance has become a synonymous view with anti-semitism. Suddenly, my identity has become the face of a terrorist group who uses our struggle as a hateful backbone. I feel as scared to say I’m Palestinian now as my parents were to say they were Muslim after 9/11.
A 7-year-old child had to wrap up his dead sisters in carpet in a covered alleyway. With bullet-wounds in their heads, they got to stay home. For the fear of the same fate, their brother had to leave them behind.
So when the horrifying news broke, I was desensitized to it. “Hundreds dead” and “Israel” in the same headline has been a common read throughout the years, but not like this. This was everywhere. This was detailed. This was impactful. This was the first time in decades Israeli civilians suffered close to the same magnitude Palestinians have suffered, and everyone’s attention turned to the atrocity.
The conflation of Palestinians and terrorists has flooded the media as misinformation drowned the news like water from a broken dam. Graphic and gruesome rumors were fact-checked too late as it impressed before being rescinded.
I have done my part to counteract my bias over the years. I’ve grown to research and learn about the Jewish displacement following the Holocaust; how Jews and Arabs alike lived peacefully for some time on the same land.
But “the land without a people for a people without a land” did have people — my people.
Native Americans were helpless to the powers of European colonizers. Too little too late, they were offered “reparations” for the ethnic cleansing and mass genocide of tribes of great numbers. The Palestinian occupation is still active, and we would much rather have resistance than reparations.
I am angry that the media is enforcing a binary of Palestinians versus Jews following Hamas’ actions. I am angry the consequences are going to fall tenfold on Palestinian civilians. I feel angry that Western media did not care for blood shed when it was ours.
Israel gained the U.S.’ support one year after the Nakba. Never once were their war crimes questioned. Instead the funding of the IDF never stopped.
This is the anger of Palestinians. We are not celebrating the human rights atrocities Hamas committed. We are angry that the majority of the world can recognize that, but they cannot recognize the generational violations of human rights of the Israeli government.
Some would go as far as to say this was justified retaliation, and I vehemently disagree. Some have personally blamed me for who I am because “Hamas is my government,” to which again I completely disagree. There are two extreme sides of hate to this coin that sets us further from resolution.
Hate and violence from both sides digs a deeper scar in this age-old war.
I grew up with this story engraved in my brain. My blood was Palestinian so long as Palestinians shed blood. But as an American, I had to seek out a much less biased perspective for myself than my traumatized family could.
Why did I have Jewish friends telling me their grandparents were from Israel when my grandpa was from Palestine? With two cultures on one land, every party involved has valid lived experiences, and I had to learn about all sides, not just one.
I’ve learned some people’s grandparents, just like mine, were raised in Jerusalem. Mine had to grow up elsewhere to make room for others to live in their old homes. A domino of displacement that seems endless.
Contextualization has been missing from so many conversations and media outlets this week. 75 years of history boiled down into one event does not translate well. I can agree that slaughtering hundreds of civilians unprovoked is an act of terror. Why does it seem easier for everyone else to do that when the civilians are Israeli rather than Palestinian?
Noor Sukar is a UF journalism sophomore.