Tension between Palestine and Israel is hidden from western culture, sources say
A Palestinian boy during protests against settlement and land seizure in Kafr Qaddoum village in the West Bank district of Qalqilya Oct. 11. Photo by Moneeb Saada.
The State of Palestine, occupied by Israel since 1967, is “under siege,” and hidden from Western understanding by the Israeli government , say activists and journalists in and outside the territory.
Moneeb Saada, a Palestinian photojournalist based in Gaza City said Israel’s treatment of Palestinian people, “even its trees and stones … shows no respect to human rights and human international law.”
“Everything in Gaza is systematically targeted,” Saada said. “Israel bombs mosques and establishments and hospitals that are overcrowded by sick and wounded people, it even bombed cemeteries where only dead people lie. Starvation and poverty are spreading and are a part of a planned system of sieging. It deteriorates infrastructures, suspends water and electricity supply, and bans essential medical elements from access.”
Israel’s existence, Saada said, is “built upon legends.”
“The Palestinian nation belongs to us and we are victims being exterminated by a colonizer,” Saada said.
Jenin Yaseen, Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions activist and descendent of Palestinian refugees, said Israel “sugar coats” its actions against Palestinians and blocks all forms of protest.
“A lot of people in Palestine don’t have internet,” Yaseen said. “Any sort of protests are immediately confronted with shots, guns, and tear gas.”
“Israel illegally obtains land,” Yaseen said. “It has unfettered control of Palestine and its people. It restricts movement and resources. Palestinians have to have permits in order to go to certain places. License plates restrict them to only go on certain roads with checkpoints. Schools are sometimes closed and it’s very common for classes to be held outside because they have nowhere to go.”
“Israel blocks that off from the rest of the world by inviting celebrities to promote ‘birthright’ trips and propaganda,” Yaseen said.
Last month, American pop star Demi Lovato posted photos of a trip to Israel on Instagram which faced criticism from her followers.
“I accepted a free trip to Israel in exchange for a few posts,” Lovato wrote on her Instagram story after disabling comments on the posts. “No one told me there would be anything wrong with going or that I could possibly be offending anyone.”
“This was meant to be a spiritual experience for me NOT A POLITICAL STATEMENT and now I realize it hurt people and for that I’m sorry,” Lovato continued.
Yaseen, who now lives in Dearborn, Mich., said she wasn’t surprised the singer was reportedly paid $150,000 in addition to her free trip for her Instagram posts.
Lovato’s representation did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
“In western culture, it’s very hard for people to humanize my situation,” she said. “The U.S. has a difficult time humanizing their own situations. The U.S. debates whether someone should have access to the most basic type of health needs. If they can’t humanize their own people, how do I expect them to humanize my people from another land?”
“It’s very common,” Yaseen said. “It’s been going on for years. Americans are just so oblivious. We’re so vulnerable to propeganda acts where we see a celebrity going somewhere and immediately believe it is the status quo because we don’t go out of our way to find information ourselves.”
Yaseen, who’s father and maternal great-grandmother escaped Palestine, said 95 percent of her extended family still lives in the occupied state.
“I talk to them when I can,” she said. “Sometimes Israel will cut off the road from our village to the city. A lot of people work in the city. A lot of villagers do farming and sell in the city. So suddenly, the road is closed and no one’s making money to live or can go anywhere.”
Yaseen said water restrictions are one of the most difficult hardships for Palestinians.
“The Israeli government only allows a tank of water per household,” she said. “Your tank only gets filled at the end of the week, so if you run out of water in the middle of the week you’re not going to get any.”