It is without doubt that students, faculty, and Kingston residents have heard of the Israel-Palestine conflict. To many, this clash ignited a week ago, but for our Israeli and Palestinian communities, this has been an ongoing struggle for 75 years.
As I write this (10.13.23), Israel’s death toll has risen to 1,300, with at least 3,300 injured, and Palestine’s death toll has reached 2,215, with at least 7,700 injured. This, of course, ignores the thousands killed and millions forcibly displaced since 1948. Yet, this issue transcends mere numbers; it delves into the societal reactions, particularly the persistent neglect of Palestinian suffering. While world leaders, local politicians, and influencers condemn the loss of innocent Israelis, their voices grow quiet when innocent Palestinians fall to the ground.
One cannot claim to fathom Israeli suffering without empathizing with Palestinian suffering. Criticizing the Israeli government for cutting off water and electricity, facilitating the largest open-air prison, establishing an apartheid state, and committing war crimes against Palestinians is a prerequisite to understanding the Palestinian suffering.
The fallacy of the “perfect victim” must fall. Victims can be white, Israeli, and European, but they can also be brown, Muslim, and Arab. Among the diapers and pacifiers that Israeli and Palestinian children share lies a thread of innocence and inherent rights to food, water, medicine, and life. The absence of media coverage regarding Palestinian suffering reflects a perception among Canadians that we don’t see Palestinians as human.
To those who interpret this stance pro-Palestinian; it is, in fact, pro-human. This is one step in rectifying the underrepresentation of Palestinian suffering in the media. This is a call for equity not equality. Equality has been a distant dream since 1948, with hundreds of thousands losing their lives while Canadians remain largely silent.
The conclusion is unequivocal: empathy for the innocent lives lost on one side is inextricably linked to empathy for all. Irrespective of what side you lean toward, it’s imperative to critique leaders when they act fallaciously and diligently work to ensure that both Israeli and Palestinian sufferings are recognized and alleviated.
If you cannot call out Israel’s leadership for cutting off electricity, fuel supplies, and food into Gaza, then work to reverse it. Organizations such as Islamic Relief Canada and Palestine Children’s Relief Fund provide medical supplies to hospitals and food to vulnerable displaced families in Gaza.
This letter writer was granted anonymity
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