Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Palestinian Perspectives: The double standards of war

The war in Ukraine presents double standards for Palestinians
Joey Lorant / Daily Collegian

Watching Russia’s military occupation of Ukraine through Palestinian eyes is frightening because it hits close to home. But as frightening as it is to see a military occupation unravel in front of us in real time, it’s not something foreign to the people of Palestine.

With Russia’s occupation of Ukraine came outcry from all over the world. As easy as it is to identify the scenes of destruction coming out of Ukraine as a Palestinian, it is not as easy to see the response of the international community. With cries of condemnation towards Russia coming from left and right and a sudden interest from the West on what does and doesn’t break international law, the (rightful) outrage for Ukraine is something that is unseen for Palestinians.

Within five days of the imposed war on Ukraine, Russia faced high consequences: the

United States and its European counterparts inflicted repercussions on Russia by boycotting Russian vodka, kicking out Russia from Eurovision and imposing economic sanctions. This idea of boycotting, divesting and sanctioning feels very familiar to a Palestinian. BDS, or boycott divest sanction, is the one biggest forms of peaceful protest that Palestinians call for against the Israeli state that is occupying them. Yet, BDS is often called antisemitic in the U.S., and some states are even attempting to ban it.

The double standards don’t start, or end, at BDS though. While the West is glorifying and financially supporting Ukrainian-armed resistance, on the other side of the coin they are actively condemning Palestinian resistance. And not only are they condemning it, but they are actually funding the state of Israel — the occupiers — in billions of dollars annually. It almost seems, then, that resistance is only called resistance when it is done by white people. While a white person with a gun is resisting, a Palestinian kid with a rock is a terrorist.

A video of a young “Ukrainian” girl confronting a “Russian” soldier that went viral on TikTok drew sympathy worldwide recently and garnered much praise from the West. The irony, though, is that this video that has been circulating is of Palestine’s very own Ahed Tamimi — a girl who was imprisoned by the Israeli forces in 2017 after getting in an altercation with them when they would not leave her home in the West Bank. It is not a stretch to say that the fact that Ahed is blonde and more white-passing garnered sympathy for her this time around when they called her a Ukrainian and re-circulated her video with the soldier.

So why is it, then, that resistance is only justified when it is done by a Westerner? The Western media sees us Middle Easterners as uncivilized. CBS’s very own foreign correspondent said, “This isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan that has seen conflict raging for decades. This is a relatively civilized, relatively European city.” With that, the direct dangers of normalizing war and tragedy in the Middle East become painfully obvious, with journalists not even shying away from their casual racism towards Arabs and Muslims.

Zelensky, the President of Ukraine, issued a statement about a month ago calling on Germany to not let a new wall divide Europe. “It’s not a Berlin Wall — it is a wall in central Europe between freedom and bondage and this Wall is growing bigger with every bomb” dropped on Ukraine, he said. The hypocrisy really starts to set in, however, when he states his support for Israel in the same breath. Israel, which has its own separation wall to separate the West Bank. Israel, which has occupied Palestine since its conception in 1948. And the double standards keep going when Israeli settlers in Tel Aviv hold protests against Russia’s military occupation, even though they are living on occupied Palestinian land.

Calling out on these double standards doesn’t mean we don’t support Ukraine. Palestinians know better than anyone what it means to be uprooted off your land. We support all oppressed people in their struggles for liberation from their oppressors trying to steal their land, future and dignity. We know how important it is to boycott and sanction oppressing states — we just haven’t been granted the same opportunity to do it.

All oppressed peoples have the right to resist by any means necessary. But it is absolutely unacceptable to praise people protecting their homeland when the people in question are Westerners, and deem resistance to be acts of “terror” when done by Palestinians.

Ruya Hazeyen can be reached at [email protected].

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