I’ll just start by saying it: if you’ve reposted what’s happening in Palestine, you aren’t even halfway there. What are you going to do about it? All these big, well-renowned news stations using the words “fighting” and “conflict” are creating a biased and skewed untruthful image of what’s actually happening in Palestine. If one throws a rock at someone who bombed them, is that really “fighting” or is it self-defense that doesn’t even work because one side has billions of dollars used to get arms while the other has no navy, no army, and no air forces? These people are tired — but that’s the whole point of Israel’s violence. To wear them down. So that they won’t fight back. For “complete quiet,” as Israel said.
In news interviews, the reporter never forgets to ask, “Do you condone the violent protests by Palestinians?” My response to that is to paraphrase Mohammed El-Kurd: “Do you condone the violent dispossession of Palestinian homes?”
We’re told to “Go with the flow,” but this flow demands for us to break the Western media cycle we’re brought up on and really say what it is in interviews, like the man I saw express himself so well, who said that Western media always starts from the effects, not the actual illness that needs to stop. If that man wasn’t Muslim, he’d be looked at as articulate and well-spoken. Instead, he’s painted as disrespectful. For what? Exposing the mainstream media bias we’re always taught to swim in?
This has been happening for years in a place where people get arrested for praying during Ramadan. Despite all the deadly bombings of homes, Al Aqsa, and officers punching people down while having the audacity to take a selfie and post it, they continue relentlessly to show up the mosque as if nothing happened, and to smile in the hopes of maybe, one day, a better day is to come.
Instead of fearing spiders and things we feared when we were 8, children are fearing they’re never going to wake up again. In a world where “help” was sent in the past many times to the Middle East, breaking international law is so normalized and no help is being sent when we need it the most.
Performative activism, while effective in raising awareness on issues these days, is like the man with the sign account you’ve seen on Instagram. It says, “Here’s what I think. Read it and do something.” If people read things and did something, students would be passing classes with flying colors, every home cook would be excellent, and robots would be replacing emotions. This means there is a fault in the system we’ve created, and I’m here to address that, but also urge you to act on it. We all know classes at school are a thousand times more effective after our experiences with online schooling, and this applies for activism as well.
Most of the time, the reason someone is reposting on social media is because the problem is far away. You see, don’t @ me but I think social media activism can be harmful when activism begins and ends with social media.
And while I’m saying this, I don’t mean to tell anyone to stop your online activism and raising of awareness, but we often let the barrier of performative activism replace real and raw activism, and it doesn’t allow us to sympathize with our friends and peers who go through harassment or discrimination because most of the time, the reason someone is reposting on social media is because the problem is far away.
Obviously people who want to change have already changed and the ones who didn’t may continue, but we can make sure we have equitable people representing us. You see, don’t @ me but I think social media activism can be harmful when activism begins and ends with social media. Therefore, social media activism is important — if and only if — it is used as an entryway to a conversation, but it cannot be the extent of that conversation. This is the exact same concept as online school. It doesn’t have the same effect as in-person activism. There’s always someone who’s going to benefit from your work, so if nothing is being done, hold not only your account accountable, but yourself accountable.
Online “activism” has come to a point where everyone just does it to say, “Hey! I’m not the problem, I’m not racist!” and that’s it. Good for you if you’re not racist, but that’s the bare minimum. We need actual action. After you’ve spread awareness, donate to an organization, reach out to those who have families in affected areas, start a campaign, write something like I am, push your members of parliament but also the public to push media organizations in order to erase skewed narratives such as the Israeli propaganda that’s being pushed in cases like this, bring Palestinian authors’ books to light, and push organizations to talk about this. The United Nations knows it’s happening, so our job should be pushing them to stop staying silent and for the United States to stop avoiding the meeting that was going to happen.
Human rights aren’t political. It’s okay to be nervous, and I understand if you’re scared. We’re going up against the world’s superforce. A few weeks ago, I had a shortness of breath when I received messages invalidating the Uyghur Muslim genocide. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop, and neither will you. You have the power, but how are you going to use it? Politics has an end, but human rights have been here ever since humans walked the Earth. Hurting one human sends an alarm to the rest of the human population. We’re all connected by love. Let’s act like it.
To recap, here are some things you can do:
- Contact your members of parliament or government. If you’re in the United States, you can urge your representatives to support a bill in support of Palestine here. If you’re in the UK, write to your MP here.
- Donate to reputable organizations.
- Break the silence — talk to your friends and family members about what’s going on.
- Attend protests in your area. Here’s an ongoing list.
- Amplify Palestinian voices, including books by Palestinian authors.