But in today’s world, especially in places like Palestine and Israel, ignorance is lethal. It is the weapon that allows oppression and cruelty to occupy. It is the way for governments to pacify their concerned citizens. And it’s precisely the way these murderous regimes are maintained.
Yes, as a Palestinian, I’m crestfallen while reflecting on the state of my homeland and how, day by day, hopes for a Palestinian state wither. But I’m not ignorant, and I know the way the game works. I can acknowledge that Israeli citizens are victims of their government just as we are.
This conflict and the way the Israeli government articulates it to its citizens is reminiscent of the United States and its war with Iraq. Think about it. George W. Bush took the podium, fixed his eyes into the camera and said the U.S. was conducting a war on terror. As a child, I’ll never forget the pride I felt. I actually believed it. All the propaganda — the pictures of supposed “terrorists,” the videos of these terrorists training — it all seemed like our intervention was needed.
And then I grew up and learned the truth. There never were any “weapons of mass destruction.” It was all a pretext used to implement hidden agendas our government wanted. And that’s the way it is for Israeli citizens.
Listen to interviews from some brave Israeli historians and researchers who champion Palestine. Ilan Pappé, a Israeli Historian, explained in a speech how even slight objects such as Israeli school books are falsified to manipulate young Israelis into believing that Palestine was vacant and that the land bloomed because of the Jews. Travel to this side where CNN blares Middle Eastern issues, and we see how the talk is about Israel being “bombarded with missiles.”
Imagine living there. Imagine believing their lies with an immense fear crawling through your veins. You’d expect your government to protect you. You’d believe their convictions. I know I did about the U.S. and its war on terror. Luckily, I discovered facts here because our information isn’t as regulated as Israel’s. According to Eran Efrati, a former IDF soldier and Israeli who comes from a prominent Zionist family, Israel scrutinizes all of their media outlets and filters everything. At least over here, we can run information independently, but in Israel, the game is much different.
Israeli citizens’ lives are controlled more than they realize. They can’t question and publish news freely. They must abide by whatever their government approves.
If we want to invoke change, a place we need to start with is enlightenment of the most important entity: a society’s people.
From my elementary school days, one principle stuck with me, and it’s still important today: popular sovereignty. The power is with the people. If the masses are against a plan, it falls. If they’re for it, it succeeds. Why else would the U.S. and Israel need these falsified stories to perpetrate their acts? The Israeli citizens, in a sense, are oppressed. Not nearly as bad as Palestinians, but they still experience some forms of oppression. And their oppression leads to their ignorance, which is a main aid in crippling the Palestinian plight for freedom.
Israel’s biggest fear is for the world to realize its lies and condemn them for it. And if it came from within, it’d be a catastrophe. They wouldn’t be able to convince their citizens that the apartheid wall is for their safety. They wouldn’t be able to convince them that their illegal settlements also promote Israel’s well-being (that’s another claim Efrati says Israel supports). And it’d be much harder for them to sustain the brutal occupation of the Palestinians.
Imagine how foolish Israel would seem if a majority of its citizens were protesting alongside Palestinians and pointing out their government’s horrific cruelties. It’s safe to say Israel’s stories would weaken tremendously. And it’s also safe to bet that the Palestinian cause would garner even more attention.
Acknowledging the other side is never easy. It comes with much ridicule and scoffs. But there is truth to illuminate. If we want to end oppression, we must come from different angles. Like our world’s ignorance. If we can spread the truth, it’s only a matter of time until these lies are exposed. And for a nation that’s built off of lies like Israel is, that’s what the Palestinians’ freedom relies on.