new shoes

“So instead of exploiting racial issues for your own small-minded purposes, you choose to lash out against a people who a)have nothing AT ALL to do with Christopher Dorner and b) you have no right to comment on? Are you a Palestinian, feeling oppressed in Gaza and hating Israelis? No. You’re a white girl who uses others’ issues to push your own liberal agenda. And while you may or may not be anti-Semitic (I wouldn’t be surprised if you were), you are without a doubt anti-Israel. And to hate America’s greatest ally through the support of violent, armed Palestinians just makes you look like an uneducated bigot.”

This was a comment I received on my Christopher Dorner post that I made both here and on Thought Catalog. I was browsing through my posts to check comments for any questions pertaining to Ask a Lesbian, and I read that one. It brings me to this really important subject that’s coming up over and over as of late: allyship.

How are we to be an ally? I spent my last quarter at Iliff being asked and asking that question, and I think I’ve come up with an answer. At least, the start of an answer:

An ally is someone who’s prepared to fight a battle with you. They’re willing to try on your shoes for a bit, but they know at the end of the day that the shoes belong to you. They fit your feet. You broke them in. One might be able to slide into them, but they aren’t comfortable and the color’s probably not right. They aren’t the other’s shoes. They are yours. You can have ’em. But now one knows what they are like. Now one can begin to understand you; your struggle. And if your feet hurt, your ally can carry you for a bit. We’re all on this one human Earth together, and allyship is key to making our way through it all.

shrinking-map-of-palestine-600x408I am a new ally for Palestine. My beautiful girlfriend and her family are from Lebanon. Her mother is a strong ally for Palestine, working closely with one of the largest Christian Palestinian solidarity committees in the US. I have begun to study the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and I thought people were joking when they said that there’s judgment placed upon those siding with Palestine.

Let me put this down basically: Palestinians have deeds to homes that were legally purchased in the 40’s by land given to them, and they are weaponless. Israeli extremists walk in with a gun, tear up their deeds, and literally move into their homes.

President Obama said yesterday that “peace must come to the Holy Land,” and also stated that the US-Israeli bond is eternal. “Unbreakable alliance” was also thrown around.  All of this was done without any mention of Palestine or the Palestinian people.

The people of Palestine as a whole are oppressed by a small amount of Israeli extremists. This is the sort of stuff we don’t hear too much about, though. People hear “Palestinian” and hear “terrorist” come up after, and I just can’t wrap my head around that.

There are more and more supporters that identify as Israeli and/or Jewish that are coming in droves to support the Palestinian people. Living in West Jerusalem, just miles away from where many Palestinians are (mostly in East Jerusalem), they hear nothing of what their human brothers and sisters are going through. There is such a disconnect and it’s in a really small area. Instead, we are reminded that there was once a threat placed on Tel Aviv by Palestinians who were sick of their homes being taken and their people being shot dead in the streets in the middle of a ceasefire. The best part is that honestly, the Palestinian people probably couldn’t have produced any form of counterstrike that would have been remotely comparable to that which Israeli extremists have over them. It’s like throwing pebbles at Goliath’s ankles.

So what can we do? How do we talk about these things without being labeled an anti-Semite instead of pro-human? I truly believe step one is allyship. I can put on the shoes of a Palestinian person, see that they are ragged and run down, exhausted from walking around without a home while carrying a sick mother and grandmother’s belongings. I can then put my shoes back on and begin to help. Allyship doesn’t mean we are required to protest. It doesn’t even mean that I need to write about it. But at the least, I can talk about it. I can keep Palestine in my heart and who knows, maybe even get a button on my backpack. It never hurts to have people ask. I can be the one person who doesn’t have the “Wherever I stand — I stand with Israel” bumper sticker on my car. I can decide to stop siding with oppressors and be aware of my product purchases and who they are connected to. Chances are, there’s no sign of the US saying anything positive on a large, public scale about Palestine. But if I’ve learned anything from the courageous people involved in the Arab Spring, it’s that a lot of little is still a lot.

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