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Viewpoint: What about Palestinian men?

  • Hannah Redekop

Father hugs son rescued from their destroyed house in Khan Yunis. Image N Khalid

Father hugs son rescued from their destroyed house in Khan Yunis. Image N Khalid

I'm sure you have heard the numbers of Palestinian women and children that Israel has killed during this month of agony in Gaza and the West Bank. Today, I long to tell you about Palestinian men, but every time I try to put words on the page, I can't see through my tears. Palestinian, Arab, Muslim men who by virtue of being born brown are subject to the deep structures of violent racism and dehumanization.

While these men are desperately digging bodies out of the rubble with their bare hands, searching for hours to find some bread and water for their families, driving ambulances and operating without anaesthesia, and reporting on the atrocities against their families, they are also expected to debate with the world to prove their humanity.

Let me illustrate part of the machinery of this dehumanization. There are reports coming out slowly that much of the destruction that took place in the Israeli settlements and at the music festival on 7 October was carried out by the Israeli military. Read that again. Israel used these images of charred bodies and houses burned to the ground as proof of the 'barbarism' of the Hamas attack, but it was, in fact, Israeli Apache helicopters and tanks that blew up cars and razed Israeli neighbourhoods, killing hundreds of their own in an attempt to eradicate Hamas.

I want you to think about your knee-jerk reaction as you search this text for a condemnation of Hamas violence that did occur on this day. We are not denying that fact but the conversation must move on. Debating the degree of 'barbaric, uncivilized acts carried out by human animals' is a diversion tactic. Violence is violence, and yet only one side is being required to first, take responsibility as a whole people for the acts of one resistance group, and secondly, prove their human rights as Palestinians.

I refuse to debate someone's humanity. I refuse to participate in racialized capitalism, which places monetary value on people's lives. I refuse to say 'enough is enough,' which implies that there is a certain number of people whose deaths will balance out the deaths of others.

When we allow debates on people's humanity it permits scenarios like that of Rashida Tlaib, who has been silenced in the US Congress for arguing that Palestinian lives are not disposable, while others across the room advocate for blatant genocide of her people. It gives legitimacy to an illegitimate debate. It gives white supremacy an equal platform because, as Ashtin Berry writes, "we have been taught that they are owed intellectual and emotional authority."

I refuse. I refuse to sit by while Palestinian men, like my husband, shave their beards before they take international flights. They change their names on their resumes so that employers won't flinch at names like Mohammad, Khalid, or Jihad. They distance themselves from their religion that teaches of generosity and peace for fear of being reduced to "Allahu akbar"- God IS great.

When I attended a protest here in Amman a few weeks ago, we stood outside the Kalouti mosque while the moa'then recited from the holy Qur'an and the thousands of men present, whispered "amen." The streets reverberated with the divine. And as the whispers of amen grew louder, the man on the microphone broke down into sobs.

I refuse to debate humanity. And I ask you to do the same. Recognize the racism deeply ingrained in yourself and refuse to participate in the racism occurring around you. Get to know Palestinian men, and do not require them to speak to or refute the narrative. Just listen. We have a long way to go.

Hannah Redekop
Christian Peacemaker Team Communications Associate


Christian Peacemaker Teams:

Read MEME report on 7 October attack: HERE


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