By Lilly Jefferson, Heritage student & SYS intern
Have you ever heard the phrase “Free Palestine”? Do you know what it means? If you don’t, I will inform you. From October 7, 2023 to today, Palestine and Israel have been in an ongoing war. If your active on social media, then you’re aware it’s been 103+ days of words like occupation, genocide, bombing, and ethnic cleansing being associated with what’s happening in Palestine.
Palestine is located geographically in West Asia. Palestinian territory is the West bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
In 2017 there were 590,481 people in Gaza. This year there are currently 2 million, and a large percentage of these people in Gaza were pushed away from other parts of Israel. In other words, in Gaza there are currently 2 million displaced people. The most recent and ongoing attacks by Israel have resulted in 26,000 dead and over 64,000 wounded Palestinians civilians, according to the latest Al Jazeera update.
What is happening to Palestinians now, is what has happened to our ancestors.
“If social media was around back then, then people could actually witness firsthand the abuse that took place towards our people, and as Indigenous people we look at all these other Indigenous groups as being our relatives,” said Tulalip educator Natosha Gobin. “So for me it’s like those are our relatives, we need to speak up for them, we need to stand up for them, we need to figure out what we can do to support their livelihood. They just want to live.”
Many of the 2 million in Gaza are right now deprived of food, water, gas, medical supplies, and medicine, and more than 80% of Gaza live in poverty. Making it even worse is the fact that 9 out of 10 people don’t eat every day. The reason being is because Israel has been bombing Gaza’s citizens, churches, 340 schools, apartments, hospitals, refugee camps, and the city.
Israel has occupied Gaza for over 75 years now, meaning they are trying to take control over Gaza. Palestinians in Gaza have resisted for over 75 years and continue to this day. This isn’t the first time either.
78% and more of historic Palestine has been taken by Zionist forces. Zionism is a nationalist, political view that called for the creation of a Jew state, and now supports the continued existence of Israel as such a state. In 1948, the night of the Declaration of the State of Israel, 1.5 million Palestinians were moved overnight. Also, from 1947-1949, the Palestinian population was at 1.9 million, 750,000 Palestinians were made to be refugees beyond the borders of the state.
You may be wondering why our elected leaders aren’t speaking up, or taking a stand to support Palestine. “I’m going to start out saying what I have observed from state leaders, and federal leaders. Politicians are influenced by those who donate money to their campaigns, and the fear of losing that funding is what keeps them silent, the fear of losing that funding is what keeps them walking the fine line of ‘this is pretty horrible, what’s going on,’” Natosha pointed out. “But also choosing their words wisely to not affect their funding that comes their way. That is what I have learned from [elected] leaders.”
Palestine has elements of Arab, Islamic, and Christian traditions. Palestine uses fresh herbs, spices, and olive oil; those are elements of Palestine cuisine. Fishing is also an important factor in Palestinian culture. Palestine also has 1,000-year-old olive trees that are sacred, Israel has allowed settlers to steal olives, and destroy their trees. They have burned, destroyed or uprooted 800,000 Palestinian owned olive trees*. This year marks 70+ years of dispossession, and loss of homeland for the Palestinians.
Indigenous people such as Tulalip should care because we have experienced firsthand what it’s like for our rights, food and water, people, land, and culture to be taken from us. We know what it is like to lose mass people from our nation and no one does anything about it. We know what it’s like to resist attempted genocide and heal in the aftermath. Because we have experienced all of this, we as Indigenous people need to stand with Palestine.
Supporting Palestine can be done in a variety of ways. You can start off by boycotting Starbucks and McDonalds because in October 2023, Starbucks filed a lawsuit against their Worker union, because they made a post saying they stand with Palestine. McDonald boycotts are because the McDonald’s location in Israel donated free meals to Israeli soldiers. Some people say Starbucks and McDonalds maintain corporate support for Israel.
“Another reason to boycott is to not only show solidarity with Palestinians but to raise awareness!” said Tulalip Heritage student Raylee Lewis.
You can also buy keffiyehs and wear them as a mark of solidarity. Wearing keffiyehs shows you are with Palestine, and you support them. The keffiyeh is a traditional type of scarf worn in many ways. The designs on the keffiyeh symbolize aspects about Palestinian life. Every detail, and every design on the keffiyeh means something. The fishnet pattern represents Gaza’s connection to the sea, the leaves represent economic and cultural significance to olives, and the Bold lines represent historical trade routes.
Indigenous people across the world show solidary in a bunch of social movements they want to raise awareness for, like boarding schools (orange shirt day), wearing red for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, and by wearing ribbon skirts, coming together to sing, dance, and heal. These are all ways we can speak up and give attention to things we think are important.
Finally, the last way you can show that you stand with Palestine is to keep up on social media about what’s happening, where are protests, and when are global shut down days. The latest shut down days have been; November 29, and January 21-28. You can also call for a ceasefire now. Ceasefire means to stop fighting, it means to stop genocide, ceasefire means Free Palestine.
*Source: Time Magazine. https://time.com/5714146/olive-harvest-west-bank/