Overcoming distance and fragmentation, a new generation of diaspora Palestinians is dismantling Israel’s monopoly over the U.S. conversation.
By Tariq Kenney-Shawa | +972 Magazine | Sept 16, 2021
…the widespread mobilization of Palestinians and our supporters this past summer has reminded the diaspora of our integral function in the increasingly diverse, global movement for Palestinian liberation.
The omnipresent restlessness and dread that consumed Palestinian-Americans in May, as we watched Israel’s onslaught on Gaza from afar, could not come close to the pain felt by family and friends with nowhere to hide from the carnage. Still, watching an endless stream of live reports of casualties, videos of children being pulled from mounds of rubble, and fell towers that once housed dozens of families — all interspersed between bouts of radio silence due to Gaza’s daily power outages — was maddening.
For many in the Palestinian diaspora, this enraging feeling is always compounded by a sense of paralyzing helplessness that stems from our physical distance, as we are forced to sit by and watch as Israeli forces pummel what could and should be “home.” The sense that we play only a peripheral role in the Palestinian struggle for liberation perpetually hovers over our heads, mingling with the fierce loyalty we have to a place we cannot return to. And like others, I have often internalized the fragmentation forced upon our people — a divide and conquer tactic that Israel has perfected over the course of decades. Or so we thought.
Over the past few months, the global response to the ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem neighborhoods like Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan, along with Israel’s latest war crimes in Gaza, have shaken the policy of fragmentation that Israel hoped would permanently cripple the Palestinian movement. For what felt like the first time in decades, Palestinians from all geographies rose up in unprecedented scenes of unity, their shared identity superseding their physical and psychological separation under varying forms of Israeli apartheid.