Let’s dig deeper to find out.
‘They’re not humans, they’re Muslims’:
A phrase stated both directly and heavily implied by many who would easily be more upset over spilt milk than they would over the spilling of Palestinian blood. This is no surprise, as Israel has successfully dehumanised and tokenised Palestinians in the public eye so thoroughly that few will dispute the description of an inherently evil animalistic, barbaric, terrorist, vermin-like people causing inconvenience to the innocent, peaceful settlers in the only democracy in the Middle East.
This is not to say that people are okay with the killing of innocents, however, it is clear that to many, it is impossible for a Palestinian to be considered innocent. No one would ever call for the death and bloodshed of a person with the capacity to love, share hopes and dreams, and live a full life, that would be unfathomable! However, the eradication of a subhuman, backward, war-mongering species is akin to the hunting of game or extermination of pests. And indeed, in the mind of many, this is what the Palestinian is. Why else would it be morally acceptable, imperative even, to bomb churches, hospitals, shops, and anywhere there is a dense gathering of the target? Why else is it overlooked that ‘average, peace-loving citizens’ mock the suffering of the target en masse online, while soldiers of the same country attempt to humiliate and brutalise the target at every physical encounter possible?
The depiction of a violent Arab people in their natural habitat of a warzone evokes no sympathy from many because it is nothing beyond the script of geopolitics. Dark-skinned people are born, then breed and die in their war-ridden countries, all while presenting an existential threat to the Western powers that be whose only interests are defending the free world, and plundering the resources of an area under the guise of civilising, peacekeeping missions.
The world exists in a very clear binary: white Westerners and anyone they resemble are the truest humans. They are sensitive and rational, peace-loving, and full of moral intelligence, ever-giving to make the world a better place. They dream and hope and fall in love and think deeply and have complex emotions, including the most powerful and singularly righteous expressions of (what is worthy of) grief, anger, longing, sadness and empathy. Anyone who is not white, and not Western, simply has not reached the level of progress required for these things. Their emotions are two-dimensional and tainted by their inherent evil.
When someone's entire family is killed in an airstrike,
When countless children are orphaned, recognise their parents among the dead,
When children are traumatised and terrified, crippled by the never-ending lullaby of bombs falling, and witnessing death before learning to spell their names,
When parents kiss their newborn babies, martyrs, goodbye along with all their hopes and dreams for their child,
When families mourn the destruction of their houses and the memories it once contained,
The tears that fall,
The hearts that break,
The lives that shatter,
The minds that are haunted
Are not the same.
It simply is not the same.
To return to the question of distinguishing between humans and non-humans, let us ask ourselves about what we accept:
Which group of people tells us that they are fighting ‘human animals’, ‘children of darkness’? Why do they want us to believe this particularly as they carry out their military offensives?
What determines the value of one life over another?
Where have we seen the playbook for a widespread campaign to diminish one’s humanity in history before?
Can this language exist in a vacuum, applied only to one time and place? Or does the rhetoric of dehumanisation persist uncontrollably and burrow its way into our common culture?
What are the effects of this language? What happens when people are told to view the matter of Israel and Palestine as a black-and-white conflict in which Israel is righteously defending itself, and to call for the freedom of Palestine is to be publicly shamed and cancelled for siding with evil?
Has it worked on you? Do you flinch at the death toll and cities of rubble, or is it all the same?
Now, when we are confronted with the heartless rhetoric that is sent our way, let us use our God-given intellect to navigate the biased world of media:
“Have they not travelled throughout the land so their hearts may reason, and their ears may listen? Indeed, it is not the eyes that are blind, but it is the hearts in the chests that grow blind.”
~ The Qur’an, Chapter 22, Verse 46
This series is intended to counter the inhumane media coverage of the current genocide in Palestine. My articles are written in the hopes of simplifying, humanising, and rationalising the discourse around this topic.
In the interest of contributing to traffic, I am attempting to write as many articles as possible. As stated, I do not aim to provide in-depth historical/political academic analyses of these matters, but to discuss these in a conversational manner.
For this reason, the articles in this series do not contain extensive references, but this does NOT mean that the information cited is baseless. Kindly reach out in the comments if there is anything that you would like to read further on or view a source for, and I would be happy to share.
Peace to a land that was created for peace and never saw a peaceful day. Peace to your martyrs and survivors, and peace to your blessed land. We pray for your ultimate victory, recovery, joy and peace. In your honour, Palestine, we will mourn for the dead and fight for the living.
Stand on the right side of history. Stand for truth, justice, and freedom. Stand for Palestine, from the river to the sea…
Said Moses to his people, “Seek help through Allah and be patient. Indeed, the earth belongs to Allah. He causes to inherit it whom He wills of His servants. And the [best] outcome is for the righteous.” (7:128)