The heartbreaking scenes and news from Gaza add to two weeks of immeasurable loss. It’s been a period of grief and pain for all of us at Zochrot, for our community of activists, our constituencies, partners, families and loved ones. We will be abandoning our mission if we fail to see that the pain and grief we are experiencing now are part of a terrible trail of pain traced back at least 75 years.
Truth telling and pointing out colonial structures of power and oppression has always been our mission, and so it remains. Because as long as those structures remain, nobody can live in true safety. We got the most painful reminder of this truth on Saturday 7/10/2023 as Hamas militants murdered hundreds, including people we knew and loved, took prisoners and abducted civilians; We continue to get this cruel reminder every hour since, as Israel indiscriminately bombs the Gaza Strip in an unprecedented campaign of revenge and destruction. We mourn the losses and fear for the lives of our friends and families in Gaza: Our Palestinians friends and families, most of whom are refugees from 1948, as well as the Israelis being held there.
The Nakba Never Ended
The losses are painful but we cannot just grieve because as we do, Israeli officials and many, too many, in the Israeli public, continue to demand more blood, calling for ethnic cleansing, calling for genocide and “ a second Nakba” - and the caravans of Palestinians fleeing south, being bombed, the bodies being pulled out of rubbles, show it to be a plan, not just threat. So we have to remind ourselves and everyone that the Nakba never ended; that everything we see stems from the creation of the Gaza strip as a ״ghetto״ full of refugees, ethnically cleansed to create the state of Israel.
No One is Safe Until Everyone is Safe
As a criminal government uses genocidal tactics and language, willing to bomb and kill even its own captive citizens in the name of revenge and maintaining the image of a powerful army, as over two thousands children were already murdered in Gaza, we say clearly: The safety of Israelis cannot depend on the oppression and dispossession of Palestinians. Rather, our safety and wellbeing are dependent on each others’. Amidst the death and destruction, it has never been more important to hold up the vision for decolonization, return of the refugees including those in Gaza, and a shared, just and peaceful space for all who live here.
The Responsibility for Change
The responsibility to end the cycle of violence rests with us, and it should be achieved through decolonization. When every peaceful or disciplined way towards liberation is blocked, oppressed people will respond with violence to decades of violence inflicted on them. The killing of innocents, especially children, is never justified, yet the only way to prevent it is to dismantle the systems of oppression that are the root cause of all the violence we’ve witnessed.
Blaming others for the violence we endure should not surprise us if we choose silence and benefit from the privileges at the expense of another population. We have the power to make a difference. We have been part of a cycle of violence for 75 years, and it's time to explore a different path.
Things can be different
It is time for us to realize that justice must be a fundamental part of our vision. We must value every life equally. Without these principles, violence will persist because no one should be expected to live a life of oppression without resistance.
Change is possible. But who holds the power to end it? Palestinians have endured a long history of occupation, settler colonialism, and violence. When we speak of ending the cycle of violence, it is Israel, as the occupying and powerful force, that holds the key to making this a reality and it is the Israeli society that must choose a different path.
A Hope for the Future
Real change can only come through a transformation of the existing regime, one that acknowledges and takes responsibility for the ongoing injustices of the Nakba and ensures the implementation of the right of return for Palestinian refugees, ultimately putting an end to the cycle of violence.