A plea for solidarity with Gaza
Dear everyone outside Gaza, reading or hearing my words,
My name is Abdallah Aljazzar. I come from Rafah, in Gaza, Palestine, alongside the borders of Egypt. I studied English language and literature at Al-Azhar University.
To be alive right now is nothing short of a miracle, and the opportunity to speak directly to you is both a privilege and an uncertainty. I may be gone by the time these words reach you, but I assure you, it’s never too late. Gazans have spoken from the grave in the hopes that someone, somewhere, finally listens. Will it be this time? The next time? Any time?
Whether I am among the living or the dead, I implore you not to hastily pass judgment on what is unfolding in Palestine. Our history tells us we have been here before. Since 1948, we have endured the horrors of rape, torture, kidnapping, starvation, invasion, and assassination. History, in its relentless scrutiny, affirms our resilience. Truth is always found where it is honestly sought.
Time and time again, we have resisted by simply surviving. Our existence is resistance. Israel understands this all too well. To end our resistance, they believe they must end our existence. The polite term for this is “ethnic cleansing.”
As the world, once again, stands by in abandonment, I wonder, “Who, among the peoples of the world, truly comprehends the Palestinian plight?” We witness our own repeated destruction, endure ghettos and pogroms, and still find no one to advocate for us, no one to defend us, no one to say “No.” Among those who should understand this suffering best are the Jewish people. But somehow, it seems some have forgotten the lessons of history. “Never Again” is not just a historical lesson; it is an urgent reminder to act.
On the evening of Saturday, October 7, 2023, I sat in my living room in Rafah’s Al Jinina neighborhood when I received news that my neighborhood had been marked as an Israeli target. With mixed feelings of hope that it might be okay and the despair of not being able to defend my neighborhood, I joined my relatives on the street for a smoke. Coffee in hand, my eyes misty, and my face pale, I walked to a friend’s house, where a group of men were gathered, shouting with joy and declaring that we are not leaving, echoing the spirit of resistance that emerged in 1948. For now, I am not leaving my house, my neighbors, or my relatives. We have chosen to stand our Palestine and die with dignity, and we await an uncertain fate. Some sources suggest that Israel may attempt to forcibly displace us to Sinai. But I say “No” emphatically—I choose to die here!
At the same time, at a different location, my uncle had evacuated his home and sought refuge at my grandma’s house. His friends have also had to leave their homes and take shelter in my uncle’s primary residence. I cannot express enough how sorrowful I feel about the ongoing situation here in Gaza.
I watch the news when we have power. Hamas, Netanyahu, President Biden, Iran—that’s all you talk about. The victims in Israel, the stories of loss, incalculable and unacceptable. “How could they be so barbaric?” you rightfully ask, lamenting the tragedy that is unfolding. Be it concert-goers or children or Holocaust survivors – the sympathy is palpable. However, when Israel enacts similar barbarism on us, it’s often framed as “self-defense.” Israel imprisons 13-year-old children: self-defense. They bomb public hospitals: self-defense. Your sympathy and outrage are selective, and the inconsistency in your stance is not lost on us. We know what it feels like, and it is painful.
The Quran and the Bible remind us that those who show no mercy shall receive none. So, we will continue to exist, even when you cut off our food and water, even when your aircraft carriers lurk off our shores, attempting “gunship diplomacy” as a modern approach to peace. China might recognize it, but we, the people of Gaza, do not. We will have children, and they will have children, and they will remember the events of October 7, this week, this month, this year. What will be their memory of these days? Will they remember you, America, as a champion of justice and fairness? Or will they recall feelings of betrayal and abandonment, fueling uprisings in 2028, 2032, and 2036 because your government and Israel chose to ignore the facts? We will still be here. We have seen off the Greeks, the Romans, the French, the Ottomans, and the Egyptians. We will also see off the Zionist colonial project. Did you know that “Gaza” means “fortress”?
Palestinians have endured 73 years of ethnic cleansing and 54 years of military occupation. The question we must all consider is: How many more Palestinians must die before this changes?
In this often-cruel world, may you never find yourself in a situation where you must rely on another’s sense of humanity to save your own life and the lives of your family.
Yours for peace,
Editor’s Note: Abdallah al-Jazzar wrote this from a house with no power and in which at least 40 people were sheltering. He wrote this on his phone. He originally prepared the essay for a colleague to read on his behalf at a solidarity rally over the weekend of Oct. 14. He wanted to send photographs to accompany the publication of the essay, but the Internet in Gaza was too frail for him to do so.