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

We have a responsibility to educate ourselves

Knowledge will motivate us to realize our collective power and resist
Nina Walat

Everyone must understand that what is happening on the ground in the Gaza Strip and West Bank goes far beyond what we see. Palestinian people are being violated and brutalized in every way imaginable, and in even more disturbing ways than we can allow our minds to arrive at and understand.

The war and collective punishment Israel has waged on Gaza and the Palestinian people have been ongoing for six months. In those six months, over 35,000 Palestinians have been killed, nearly 80,000 Palestinians have been injured and nearly 85 percent of people in Gaza have been displaced. Many of us see these numbers every day, and we can easily become desensitized to it.

Beyond these numbers, Palestinians are being deprived of their right to live, and to their dignity as human beings. Many have no access to water, food and sanitation. Dangerous infectious diseases are spreading quickly, especially Hepatitis A. Gazans who are facing life threatening injuries from brutal bombings of their homes and places of worship are martyred because of the complete and intentional destruction of all infrastructure crucial to the basic functioning of any society. Twelve out of 35 hospitals are partially functioning, 73 percent of school buildings have been damaged and 83 percent of groundwater wells are not operational.

Palestinian mothers, fathers, daughters and baby brothers are facing limb amputation and other debilitating injuries from landmines and bombs, that are made even worse by the complete inaccessibility to medical treatment. Surgeries are being done without anesthesia, and infants are dying from lack of incubators.

Gazan children are awakening in destitute hospitals and facilities, in their destroyed homes that have become rubble, to the loss of their entire family. Not only must they experience loss that is impossible for most to conceptualize, but they must do it alone.

Thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of Gazan children are losing their right to education, and their ability to learn, speak, laugh and play. They are being deprived of the lives that they deserve for the foreseeable future, and for many, forever.

Not only is the infrastructure within Gaza being effectively destroyed, but Gazans’ last hope, the intervention by courageous and skilled individuals from the international community, are facing violence. United Nations (UN) staff members and doctors from Doctors without Borders, who risk their lives for the lives of Gazans, are being persecuted. Days ago, the first UN international staffer, Col Waibhav Kale, was killed when his car was struck while he was traveling through Rafah in a clearly labeled vehicle. Humanitarian aid workers are facing intentional disruption to their work at the hands of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), which inhibits their ability to save thousands of lives.

This information and discussion do not cover nearly anything, or enough, of what you must know about what is happening to Palestinian people, the Gaza Strip and West Bank at this very moment.

Western mainstream media has obscured these truths; it has suppressed information we have a right to attain. Mainstream media in the United States instead serves the economic interests of investment bankers on Wall Street, billionaire shareholders and political figureheads, just to name a few.

When the U.S. became more aware of the impact phrases like “secretary of war” had on U.S. and international communities in the 1950s, they shifted to the use of words and phrases such as “secretary of defense” and “conflict” because of our country’s right to “self-defense” for “national security.” This was a concerted effort to hide the atrocities the U.S. was directly imposing upon the global south, and through “internal” and “confidential” actions by people like Henry Kissinger. The U.S. government and media recognized the genuine anger the more honest words (war) incited among Americans, and they became fearful they would be forced to take responsibility for their actions, which are undeniably and categorically wrong.

This shift in language should never be misconstrued as a moral shift on the behalf of the U.S. This does not change the fact that the U.S. has imposed war, and the indiscriminate killing and human rights violations of entire villages and countries and racial groups. The U.S. militaristic intervention, colonization and land grabs, and subjugation of marginalized people is not for “humanity’s sake,” as the U.S. has frequently framed their decisions; call it what it is.

These wars and murderous campaigns devised directly– and covertly– from Capitol Hill and Wall Street are nearly always imposed upon people of color: thousands of Haitians, Nicaraguans, Vietnamese people, Koreans, Salvadorans and Iraqis lives were taken. This list does not end.

We are becoming disillusioned, distraught and angry towards the people who we are told “represent” us, people who have been committing atrocities for centuries, with ease, to uphold our global power.

This rightfully incites anger, sadness and hopelessness within people of color, within me, within people watching in solidarity. Yet there are massive populations who do not observe and learn what is happening, and who do not become angry and distraught.

We have power. You have power. Education and knowledge are powerful and notwithstanding tools that we have at our disposal.

It’s clear we cannot trust mainstream media and accept it as reality. Instead, we must search and uncover truths and news through alternative channels.

Observing what is truly happening may elicit feelings of discomfort, guilt, horror, devastation and anger. Yet, this cannot outweigh our motivation to learn and educate ourselves. Emotion should instead motivate us to persist in seeking out truthful information.

We must transmit our knowledge to people around us: community members, family, friends, peers, colleagues — anyone we can reach.

Knowledge and emotion lead us to realize our power and right to protest and act. We have a choice to not turn a blind eye to what is happening to Palestinian people, Sudanese people, Congolese people and the positioning of these realities within a historical and political context. We have the choice to not remain complicit, to not accept our externally imposed position as invisible and powerless, but instead to resist and wage a crucial struggle against those responsible.

I urge you to go beyond the borders of your daily responsibilities, habits and areas of study to seek out the truths that are systematically suppressed. To learn and accept the emotions you feel and use them as a tool. This is our responsibility, this is our power and everyone must participate. Now.

And never forget to say, “FREE PALESTINE.”


Juliette Perez can be reached at [email protected].

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