Over the past few weeks, the Israeli siege on Gaza has left many a “think of the children” narrative circulating social media.
We have been bombarded with images of deceased children, we know that nearly half of Gaza’s population is under 18, and we know that most people being treated in Gaza hospitals and refugee camps were children as well.
Coverage of women and children in Gaza and the West Bank is essential, it is a gateway into the reality of the brutalization of the Palestinian people.
Countless scholars have written about how women and children are the first and last to lose in war because war is a feminist issue, and Palestine is no exception. However, when Palestinian men are out of focus in the conversation, we are signing their death certificates as well.
I want to be extremely clear, reader, that this article is the very antithesis of “All Lives”, and “Men Cry Too”, sentiments. This is about persecuted men of color, semantics be damned.
If you’re a background supporter it’s easy to say that the men of Palestine are martyrs and that it’s admirable to die for your state, but we should ask ourselves why this is the present narrative. Is this after decades of being desensitized to seeing black and brown men give up their lives? Have we fallen for the trick that men of color are supposed to die for the cause?
The internet is circulating videos of Palestinian men saying they wish to stay and die there, but there are also videos of men saying that they are terrified and praying for their safety. Why is one story more marketable than the other?
We could implore ourselves to focus on some men because they are fathers, husbands, sons, and brothers. (A similar argument among the Liberal West for why we should have women’s rights – because they are mothers, daughters, etc). But why do you need to belong to someone to deserve dignity?
We could show support for Palestinian men because they work in the hospitals, they drive the aid trucks, and they pull their own from collapsed buildings. Pray tell, why do they need to be heroes to deserve a home?
Where is the room for ordinary men to be saved? Where is our grief for the “regular” guy? Why do body bags have to be tiny for the world to pay attention?
The current demand for a perfect victim in women and children likens the conflict to a television show. As if, it’s not “entertaining” enough to see “ just another brown man” suffer. After all, we’re used to it by now.
Now is not the time to reinforce a hyper-masculine idea of survival, now we need to exercise the most careful empathy, for everyone’s benefit. Palestinian men, just like all persecuted men of color, deserve to grow old in their own homes.
Palestinian men are central in their communities of course. In many cases, they are heroes, fathers, and whatever romantic idea we may want to place on them. Above all, however, they’re just people, just people who deserve better. Just people whose survival depends on the advocacy and attention of us as just people.
* Disclaimer: This piece was published as a student’s op-ed submission. The Quindecim is a space for all students within the Goucher community to express their views and beliefs. These pieces are released in the name of journalistic integrity and not in an attempt to antagonize or reflect the institution of Goucher as a whole.