By Nejoud Al-Yagout
For the first time since the occupation of Palestinian lands, the world is waking up to the reality of the situation. For years, we have been blinded by rhetoric reminiscent of the chief propagandist of the Nazi regime: Joseph Goebbels. The way to justify violence is to make people believe in the lies, to make people hate the victims.
But what propagandists forget is that what goes around comes around. History has taught us that persecution has an expiry date, and the end begins when enough people incline towards the side of victims for justice to prevail. And propaganda, which feeds on lies, can only be fought with one weapon: The truth. The truth about what is happening, the true picture of brutality, the true terrorists.
The Nazi propaganda gave validation to evil by glorifying shared ethnicity, kicking people out of their homes, placing them in camps, and terrorizing them. Sounds familiar? Isn’t it tragic that the people perpetrating such crimes are the descendants of people who shared the same horror stories of stolen homes, a forced diaspora and brutality, which are now quotidian happenings for Palestinians?
Propaganda needs to evolve, however, so that nobody catches up with the lie. The way for a lie to thrive is to pay to keep it alive, through media, movies and music. Money is paid to make the aggressor more lovable and to portray the victim as an enemy or a terrorist. And then when someone notices the bias of such a ploy, the propagandist says: That’s antisemitism. No, it is not antisemitism. It is anti-Zionism. These are two different things.
We were almost fooled by hearing repeatedly that they are the same thing, but not anymore. We were almost fooled by the victim mentality, adopted to induce guilt in nations that mistreated them in the past. We condemn the Holocaust. And we condemn what the occupiers are doing to Palestinians now. A crime is a crime no matter who it is perpetrated against.
Even ex-military members who fought for the occupiers have left and are speaking out about atrocities committees against Palestinians. What will it take for them to see what they are doing? What will it take? Just as some of us awoke from a long stupor of hypnosis, they, too, can wake up to how they meet any objection with excessive force – even if it means using a rubber bullet against a child hurling a rock, or meeting unarmed protesters with skunk spray and chemicals to disperse “threats to security”. Even at a mosque during the holiest month of the Islamic calendar, the military spares no mercy, using grenades against people worshipping. People have lost their lands and their eyes and their children.
Yes, but they insist, they have the right to defend themselves against worshippers and unarmed children. As Trevor Noah pointed out, when discussing the issue at hand, his mother told him not to fight his younger brothers because they are not strong enough to handle his punches.
And the most dangerous propaganda is the one that blends with spirituality, using scripture to justify one’s presence, although this is being debunked by knowledgeable rabbis who know their scripture well and are tired of having their scripture hijacked. These rabbis have been chanting Free Palestine for eons, and they are finally being given more publicity.
Because the world is waking up. And we know religion would never justify kicking people out of their homes and turning an entire land into a checkpoint zone, controlling its water and electricity, beating up women in their cars, bullying people in the streets or turning land into a refugee camp, where the refugees are natives! Using spirituality as a tactic is not confined to scripture for these propagandists.
We all fell for the “peace” efforts, some countries even going so far as to make it official. Bit by bit, many of us began wanting peace between the occupiers and the Palestinians. This is what is known as the Stockholm Syndrome. Much of the world fell for it. Except this form of the Stockholm Syndrome is dangerous because the rapist, the kidnapper claims innocence, and spreads it far and wide, enough to penetrate hearts and minds. Such a tactic includes spiritual bypassing: Pretending everything is alright for the sake of love and peace.
But it doesn’t work that way. The violence has to stop by those in power, those in a place of privilege; then, peace comes. First, the land has to return to the Palestinians, then peace can come. When we befriend the aggressor, we are saying, it’s okay, we’ll turn a blind eye for the sake of love.
Peace comes when there is peace. Simple. It does not come in the midst of settlers beating up natives. It does not come when a bully beats a person unable to defend himself to a pulp and shouts: He started it. No, the occupiers started it when they entered the country and took over an entire land. We have to reclaim the narrative and reclaim language. It is not terrorism, it is fighting resistance. It is not, as mentioned previously, antisemitism; it is anti-Zionism. It is not a clash when an unarmed person loses an eye to an armed soldier.
And there is no need to say that the occupiers have the right to defend themselves. Let them say it plain and clear: They want the right to kill, to attack, to steal land, to persecute and to flagrantly violate international law. Let them say it. And even if they can’t say it, we are onto it now. And they know we are, they know so well, that an official Twitter account twisted the words of a supermodel to garner sympathy, only to be met with more criticism against them. It’s a classic example of blatantly lying to further an agenda. That’s how far the propaganda is losing. They must be surprised that the entire world has caught on after years of winning in the domain of propaganda.
We will no longer be fooled by invitations to peace and love. Those days are over. The occupiers should invite themselves to peace and love, instead of spewing the same tired narrative of being attacked by everyone. Why is there war? Did anyone ask this question? Why is there resistance? A land has been stolen. Let us no longer ignore the bleeding, dying elephant in the room.
For those who have never been swayed by the propaganda of peace, bravo! That is commendable. For those of us who fell for the peace talks, today is a new day. Let us wake up and defend our brothers and sisters in Palestine and raise our voices in support of them. Let us sing, dance, write, cook, do anything to shine a light on their cause. And for those who made peace official, it is never too late to use your voice to walk away from an abusive relationship. There’s a cure for the Stockholm Syndrome: Calling a spade a spade.
We love you, Palestine.