By Yasmin Abdel Khaleq
Hi, my name is Yasmin. I am a pharmacy student here in the Philippines. In my four years of living here, I have received comments from fellow Filipinos, curious of where I come from, seeing my big nose and almond-shaped eyes. They would proceed to assume “From Israel?” and I would say “Palestinian po ako.” They would then say “Ah, Khamas.” It reached the point that I do not want to prolong these kinds of conversations anymore. So, for strangers, I would just say “Pinoy lang po ako. Opo, Pinoy lang po talaga ako,” to end these.
I regret denying my roots. I regret failing to tell Filipinos WHO I AM.
I AM UNAPOLOGETICALLY FILIPINO-PALESTINIAN AND NO ONE CAN TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME.
I am dedicating this post to YOU. To you FILIPINOS who comment here on Facebook nonstop, saying “Bakit kayo nangingialam sa problema ng ibang bansa?” Sabay sasabihin ninyo, “Pray For Israel.”
I know that EVERYONE sees what is going on right now. They call it the “Israeli-Hamas Conflict” or “war”.
Real history, real traditions
No matter what history timeline you believe in, you cannot deny the fact that the State of Israel was only established 75 years ago. If you read up on the diaries of the founders of Zionism, you will find out that the land where Israeli Zionists are settling in right now WAS ALREADY INHABITED BY THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE. No, it was not a desert.
Zionism is a movement, a settler-colonial project, which aims to establish a Jewish nation-state in Palestine, now called the State of Israel. In 1922, after World War I, Palestine was under a British Mandate. It was even considered a “Class A” mandate because of the advanced infrastructures Palestine had. The Balfour Declaration was then established that promised a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. This helped the Zionist movement to further achieve its aims.
Also, stop calling people anti-semitic for standing with Palestine! Mind you, there is nothing wrong with Jewish self-determination. What is completely wrong is the ethnic cleansing and dispossession of the Palestinian people for the past 75+ years just so these Zionists who came from all over the world can establish a homeland.
We do not hate Jews. We hate Zionism. There is a HUGE difference. If you see the protests going on in the world right now, you will notice that Jewish people condemn the State of Israel and are ashamed of the Zionist Israeli settlers for using their name as Jews, for using the Torah, for using the name of God, as an excuse to kill and displace Palestinians. A homeland is not built this way.
Palestine wasn’t an empty piece of land with no people. Palestinians were already there! Sabi ko nga kanina, it was a land filled with advanced infrastructures with agricultural capabilities. My grandparents grew up there and so did our entire family line of Palestinians before 1948. Ask any Palestinian, we can mention the names of our ancestors who were born in Palestine.
On the other hand, ask any Israeli where they came from. Most likely, they would say they moved to Israel but were originally from Italy, Poland, France, Yemen, Lebanon, or wherever else in the world they came from. The only thing they have in common is being Zionists settlers. That’s why they steal Palestinian traditions and make it their own to show the world that they have something in common.
Remember when Miss Universe Philippines 2021 Beatrice Luigi Gomez went to the State of Israel where an event was held. She wore a Thobe (a traditional Palestinian dress) and helped prepare Warak Enab (a Palestinian dish). That’s exactly what I’m talking about.
‘Wouldn’t you want to fight back?’
Now on to “Hamas” which some of you can’t even pronounce correctly. The only reason why Hamas attacked is to free Palestinian prisoners, stop Israeli aggression on Al-Aqsa Mosque, and to break the siege on Gaza. Did you know that the release of one Israeli soldier frees approximately 1,000 Palestinian prisoners? Prisoners who were kept in cells unjustly and inhumanely, prisoners who did no wrong other than being Palestinian, prisoners who are women and children. INSTEAD, the assault has led to non-stop Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, around 6,000 bombs the past week. Around 800 Palestinian children killed. Around 2 million Palestinians displaced once again.
Moving on, if you ask the people of Gaza if they support Hamas, they would simply say THEY DO NOT HAVE A CHOICE. Imagine living in an open-air prison for years with your electricity and water allowed for only 3 hours a day? Sudden bombings here and there? How would you feel? Wouldn’t you want to fight back?
Fifty percent of the population in Gaza are CHILDREN. One cannot imagine the pain they experience. Children witness the killings of their sisters, brothers, parents, and they are the only victims left alive. There are records of Palestinian children committing suicide because of this.
By saying “But, Hamas…” is the equivalent of saying “ALL LIVES MATTER.” You are justifying the violence inflicted upon Palestinians, the collective punishment done to Palestinians, when in fact we are powerless. We are only asking for freedom to literally get back what we actually owned. Also, no matter how many people in Palestine vote for Hamas, IT STILL DOES NOT EXCUSE ISRAEL’S ONGOING GENOCIDE OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE. YOU CAN ADVOCATE FOR THE LIVES OF PALESTINIANS WITHOUT ADVOCATING FOR HAMAS.
Now, if you are STILL taking a neutral stance and staying blinded when everything is in front of you, let me ask you: Do you condone the killings of civilians, medical personnel, journalists, bombings of hospitals, and the bombings of ambulances? BECAUSE ISRAEL HAS BEEN DOING THAT TO PALESTINIANS. THEY DISREGARD THE PROTECTIVE EMBLEM THAT PALESTINIAN HEALTH WORKERS AND JOURNALISTS WEAR AND THAT IS AGAINST INTERNATIONAL LAW.
How could you now side with the oppressors?
At this point of reading my post, you may wonder, why are these information not being reported in news outlets? Here’s why: Mainstream media coverage favors Israel where five major U.S. newspapers show negativity only for Palestinian stories.
There are studies that cover media bias favoring Israeli narratives. Palestinians are HIGHLY underrepresented. This is why there is so much misinformation going on, news reporters in the West would literally report fake news, then say sorry later on as if the damage hasn’t been done already. It isn’t fair at all.
Mainstream media says out loud that both sides should be grieved but the reality is that only the Palestinians are buried in mass graves. Other than that, the massive support of the U.S. government to Israel (120 billion US dollars in military aid), is definitely enabling the genocide in Gaza.
Israel’s civilians are armed, their forces has an army, a navy, an airforce, and nuclear weapons. What do Palestinians have? This is why it is not a conflict! It is a situation of the oppressor and the oppressed. Hindi patas ang armas dito, hindi ‘to gyera. Literal na gusto nilang patayin at tanggalin ang lahat ng Palestino sa mundo.
Mainstream media continues its 75+ years of misreporting what actually happens to Palestinians. We are NOT seen as HUMANS anymore because of this. The Israeli narrative has harmful and grave effects. This can be seen in the recent killing of 6-year-old Wades Al-Fayoume in the U.S. because he was Muslim and Palestinian-American.
Do not tell me ISRAEL has the right to defend itself. Palestinians have the right to resist by any means necessary. This is outlined in the U.N. Resolution 3236. You may ask, what about the Israeli civilians? Well, have you seen the video last week? How they rushed to the airports to leave “Israel”? There’s your answer. Let them all go back to where they came from. They have passports and families there anyway.
Stand with the Palestinian people. Stand with the oppressed. You are a Filipino and so am I. We share the same sentiments as Palestinians. Every Filipino should unconditionally support Palestinians and all oppressed peoples as our struggles are interconnected. Our countrymen have fought off our oppressors before. How could you now side with the oppressors?
If anything, we understand what occupation means. We are ONE in the struggle for liberation from U.S. imperialism. STAND AGAINST the U.S. that backs the State of Israel. Condemn the State of Israel! It isn’t complicated! Palestinians are experiencing genocide while the whole world is idly watching!
Let the whole world know the truth
This is the end of my post. Please do your own research, your own readings. Make sure that the sites you are viewing aren’t biased to the Israeli narrative. I suggest checking out DecolonizePalestine‘s website, a project founded by two Palestinians in Ramallah. It is filled with research and articles, a collection of resources such as books so one can learn more about Palestine. Also check out Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, a movement that aims to end the international support of Israel’s oppression against Palestinians via boycott, divestment, and sanctions.
Lastly, please follow Palestinian Instagram accounts. They cover everything that happens in Gaza as they experience the genocide imposed to them by the State of Israel. They risk their lives as journalists and medical personnel to report, whilst they witness the death of their family members and friends. I have a whole list posted in my Instagram stories and highlights (@ycsmcn on Instagram).
Reach out to your friends and family. Let the whole world know the truth. Continue sharing what Israel is trying to shut off from the world as they cut off electricity and water supply in Gaza, as they commit international crimes. This is the least you can do as a HUMAN.
Pilipino ako. Palestino rin ako. In our lifetime, Palestine will be free.
(This essay is published with approval by the author.)