Israel/Palestine Issues News Welcome

Hello, my name is Malak Ghazal, and I’m a Lebanese-American who grew up in Kalamazoo.

(speech given at a Palestine Solidarity Rally in Bronson Park, Kalamazoo, Michigan on Saturday, March 2nd)

I remember growing up I used to think that to be Arab was to be cursed. Aside from the casual racism my family endured in a post 9/11 world, I always associated the Middle East as a war torn desert in ruins. I lived through the second intifada, the invasion of Iraq, the Israel-Lebanon war, the Arab Spring, the Syrian Civil War, the war in Libya, and countless Israeli aggressions, and now I am watching a televised genocide in Palestine that has raged on for the past 147 days, aided and abetted by the United States of America.. 

I have watched in horror as over 30,000 of my brothers and sisters in Palestine have been murdered at the hands of the Israeli army, 13,000 of whom are children. I have watched over 70,000 of my brothers and sisters critically injured. I have watched 2.2 million of my brothers and sisters displaced from their homes and been denied access to water, food, medicine, electricity, cell service, or peace. I have watched every hospital in Gaza targeted by the IDF. I have watched refugee camps bombed. I have watched war crime after war crime after war crime. 

I have watched armed settlers attack Palestinians in the West Bank. I have watched Palestinian men get kidnapped, tortured, and abused by setters and the IDF alike. I have watched Palestinians in the West Bank abducted in the middle of the night by the IDF and sent to prisons for posting on social media. I have watched this unfold as US elected officials have said things like “we will see Gaza turned into a parking lot,” and Israeli officials describe us as “human animals,” and IDF soldiers chanting to take not only Gaza, but all of the West Bank & Lebanon as well. 

I have watched this, not only since October 7th, but my entire life. I have watched this occupation suffocate Palestine, Golan Heights, Syria, and Lebanon. I have watched the IDF uproot hundreds of thousands of olive trees, divert fresh water from Palestinian lands, and force Palestinians into a humiliating apartheid state, in the name of Israeli “democracy.” I have watched a fascist, right wing Israeli prime minister remain in power for 20+ years & rewrite laws to remain in power and suppress any dissent of him. 

I have watched Israeli war planes harass Beirut on Christmas, for no reason at all. I have seen members of my family blown to bits by Israeli cluster bombs left in our countryside since 1990. I remember the first image I ever saw of my homeland was at the age of 8, when Israel bombed the highway next to my village, as my parents were watching news coverage of the 2006 Israel Lebanon war. I listened to my cousins retell stories of that day, fleeing by boat as our countryside was on fire. I carry the trauma of my family members who survived a 15 year Israeli occupation of Lebanon. 

I have watched in horror my whole life, as an ethno-settler state & a global superpower has colonized our homelands and terrorized my people for 75 years, feeling incredibly helpless and powerless. My entire life, I’ve had to justify why my people deserve basic human rights in a world that was designed to oppress us.  What a curse it is, to be from the most beautiful places on earth, and yet the powers that be, in their pursuits of power, have destroyed our lands, our homes, and our livelihoods. If we move away, like my family did, we are cursed in the diaspora, watching our communities from afar get slaughtered on our screens while we live in relative safety.  

I wake up in the morning and pray that Bisan from Gaza is still alive. I prepare breakfast, and think of starving Palestinians who were massacred two days ago trying to get flour. I go to work at school, see the faces of my students, and think of Reem, the soul of our soul, or Hind, who cried for help as her family was slaughtered. I go for a walk, and think of newly amputated Palestinians on the floors of hospitals screaming for medicine. I get my period cramps, and think of the Palestinian women who have miscarriages everyday. I check my phone and listen to Motaz Azaiza say “no one stopped this so I went outside of Gaza to see what is wrong with the world.”

What is wrong with the world? 

Our basic human rights are not up for debate. Our lives are not disposable in the name of US hegemonic politics. 

We refuse to live in a world where televised genocides are carried out, and our leaders don’t bat an eye.

We refuse to normalize apartheid and the colonization of our indigenous lands.

We refuse to remain silent while imperial armies kill us and invade our countries in the name of “democracy,” or whatever twisted “democracy” US capitalism and hegemonic dependence brings to our countries. 

So the question is what can we do right now? We must use our voices & our power to demand a ceasefire and an end to the violence. And we will keep using our power until we see the liberation of Palestine and all oppressed peoples.

I am inspired everyday, by seeing Jewish Americans & Arab Americans co-leading protests who view our oppressions as interconnected. Throughout history, the root of our oppressions is white supremacy. Our struggles & our liberation then, are interconnected. 

From Palestine  to the Congo, Sudan to Turtle Island, Syria to Afghanistan, Yemen to Hawaii, Philippines to Haiti, we demand collective liberation from our colonizers. The day we see a Free Palestine is the day that oppressed peoples everywhere will be liberated.  

And that’s when I remember that to be arab is not a curse. But rather, to be Arab is the greatest blessing I could have asked for. Because despite everything we have been through, we are still here, we are resisting, and we have something worth fighting for. The occupiers are all quaking in their boots because they know the world stands in solidarity with Palestine, and to hold that much strength is something I am incredibly proud of. We are strong, powerful, and determined, and I know we will see a Free Palestine within our lifetime.