That Ramble about Palestine.

Teniola
6 min readMay 12, 2024

After more than 6 months of indirectly addressing the issue, I can no longer come up with analogies or borrow other contemporary subject matters to address the Palestinian issue. If you follow me on Twitter (I doubt I’ll ever call it ‘X’) you might have seen me involved in a few heated exchanges with several users over the Gaza genocide or the Palestinian conflict at large.

I’ve lost friendships because of my stance and approach. Still, I don’t know if I feel bad about losing these particular relationships because I worry about indifference or outright lack of empathy. It is difficult for me to continue to act like my world is fine and dandy when more than 15,000 children have been killed and we are watching it all on social media.

I understand some question why this particular conflict is drawing so much outrage unlike what was happening in Yemen and Syria. Others see this conflict only through the lens of religion while some interpret the conflict purely from a mainstream media diet perspective. I get that trying to change people’s minds on Twitter is hardly ever the ideal scenario given how limited characters one has per tweet. Still, I have tried to have in-person conversations with people who held contrary or indifferent views but most of those conversations didn’t go anywhere. Maybe I’m bad at this thing.

So, here’s a typical scenario a Nigerian who considers himself/herself politically savvy has in mind; most of the time they are religious types who lean into their beliefs to create a worldview, especially in the Middle East, so if he/she is Muslim he/she is likely looking at the Palestinians as fellow Muslims. At the same time, a Christian would have a Western characteristic view of the incidents of October 7th and hold tightly to the view that Hamas are terrorists and the Palestinians are Arabs who desire to wipe out the state of Isreal so they can never have peace on the land promised to them by God.

Let’s just say I strongly disagree with these lines of thinking given the context. Resistance to occupation is recognised. It is also against international law to seize land via military conquest. This is something Israel increasingly flouts severally but continues to receive cover for its actions from the USA & Britain. Discussing international Law and Israel’s conduct will require a whole other conversation entirely which I do not have the bandwidth to get involved with.

What most of these people tend to ignore is the creation of modern Israel was a colonial act which in part led to the displacement of more than 750,000 ethnic Palestinians from 400 villages in modern-day Israel. What they aren’t informed about is how Israeli militants and actual terrorist groups pre-1948 carried out bombings and sabotage attacks on British Mandate Palestine and also carried out biological warfare by poisoning wells and water supplies in both Palestinian and Jewish villages to ensure people couldn’t immediately return to their homes. They have never been able to return home ever since.

The Israel-Palestine conflict isn’t directly religious, but Western media typically make the effort to paint resistance groups such as Hamas as Islamic extremists. Yes, Hamas are partly an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood and hold tightly onto Islamic fundamental practises yet they only came into existence in 1987 while the Israel-Palestine struggle started as soon as the state of Israel was created. Hamas has done terrible things no doubt, but what you will never find them doing is identifying with extremist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda. In truth, both groups detest Hamas.

Largely since 1997, Hamas has made it known that it is willing to live alongside the state of Israel as long as Israel pulls out of the occupied West Bank or largely retreats behind the borders that were drawn pre-1967. Israel has refused to do any of this but has instead increasingly built walls, roads, watch towers and settlements throughout the West Bank, constantly fracturing Palestinian settlements and communities.

All of this is happening in the West Bank while the Gaza Strip has been under siege for almost 20 years. At least half the people in Gaza are under the age of 18 meaning most of the children living on the strip have never experienced life beyond that patch of land. Since the attack on Israel on the 7th of October Palestinians have -minus a brief ceasefire which saw the release of a handful of hostages- experienced non-stop bombings and a military ground invasion. 70% of the strip has been destroyed including Hospitals, Schools, religious buildings and government infrastructure. Even if the intention was to smoke out Hamas and rescue the hostages the group took with them after the attack on Israel one should find it difficult to accept the destruction of a civilian settlement while killing trapped civilians recklessly.

One incredible retort I heard from a friend I discussed this with was “If they knew Israel was going to respond in such a manner it means they deserve what they are getting right now.”. This is because they believe a weaker group should never confront or offend a stronger group. I knew the same person had no idea an occupied group no matter how weak has a right to resist occupation so I left the matter there.

Another person asked why I was so concerned about the plight of ‘these Arabs’ because I should know they are also racist towards Africans, and in her words “They will not even piss on me if I was on fire”. What shocked me about this particular refrain was this acceptance of tit for tat, because they wouldn’t treat me as an equal (based on a generalisation applied to all Arabs) it was in my interest to accept the treatment innocent Palestinians were being subjected to because of the actions of a militant group that had presided over their community by force.

Another pushback (this being the most popular) was I should focus on the killings and ethnic cleansing in the Middle Belt rather than focus on the genocide in the Middle East. They called it chasing a cool cause or focusing on the cool crisis. I have so many things to say about this, but what I would like to emphasise is such an observation isn’t exactly helping any situation. As someone who makes the effort to highlight the despicable acts of tribal militants in the Middle Belt, it feels almost incredulous in observation. When did raising your voice about a genocide happening halfway across the world become a bad or ‘cool’ thing? Can we not speak up for both issues?

We can have a different conversation about the attitudes of those who keep mute about killings happening to one specific group while being theatric and vocal when it happens to another group, I still do not think it is right to silence people speaking up even if their cries were selective. That’s all I can say about that.

Oppression needs to be fought, whether these people are halfway around the world or in our backyards. Yes, the contexts cannot always be straightforward, some are complex, requiring some sort of delicacy in handling, but I don’t think too much talk should be required when we see innocent babies being killed in their hundreds. When the other side begins to share/post videos about the schools, homes and religious buildings they are bombing I think the questions need to be asked what the true intent of the military operations are about; the children aren’t the ones holding hostages, neither are the women or mothers hiding captured Israelis under their hijabs.

As footage continues to come out of Gaza, we see United States politicians spew the same talking points about Israel having the right to defend itself, while not recognising the sovereignty and legitimacy of the people of Palestine and at every possible juncture addressing any attempt to recognise them as a people as antisemitism.

I have no wish to ramble on and on about the matter. I wish I could write about the subject matter eloquently. Still, all I want to say is we need to rediscover our humanity and speak up against a terrible thing being done to a people who simply wanted to live peacefully.

I draw inspiration from leaders such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. It doesn’t matter who, as long as there is oppression we all must speak up for the oppressed. So, this view might not be agreeable to some of you, and if that is the case I encourage you to approach me with an open mind. We can have a conversation. Conversely, if your mind is made up and you can’t come around to seeing how the destruction of a civilisation sets a bad precedence for the rest of us in the global south then I feel we might not be able to have a reasonable conversation.

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Teniola

Entrepreneur, Humanist, dreamer & thought provocateur INDIE GRIFFIN