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  • Writer's pictureThe ILNA Team

Palestine: Why Language Matters

The fight for Palestinian liberation continues, 73 years later. Over the many decades, Palestinians have been locked in cycles of violence and an ongoing occupation, their voices have been disproportionately silenced across all forms of media. For as long as I can remember, information on Palestine was derived from the falsification of facts which were fed to us through mainstream media, the same entity who remains complicit in Israel's crimes against humanity. ُThe publication of information this time is different. Palestinians on the ground have been tirelessly documenting the ethnic cleansing and apartheid they have been subjected to all their lives.

Media outlets refer to the occupation of Palestine as 'conflict' and 'war.' The blame to this day, has always been placed on the Palestinians. This time, things are changing. Language is important and people are combatting the biased and in-accurate framing of the situation on the grounds. This time, the Palestinian voice is loud and clear. You may choose to look the other way, but you can't say you didn't know.

Protesters rally Saturday outside the Federal Building in Westwood. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)


It's apartheid. In an Instagram post, Marwan Kaabour outlines the different reports which summarise the different grounds on which Apartheid in Israel is met. "A 2007 report, UN special rapporteur for Palestine, John Dugard stated "elements of the Israeli occupation constitute forms of colonialism and of apartheid. which are contrary to international law. In 2020, The Israeli human rights group, 'Yesh Din' found that the Israeli treatment of the Palestinian population of the West Bank met the definition of apartheid under both Article 7 of the 2002 Rome Statue. In January of 20121, the Israeli Human Rights organisation, 'B'tselem,' issued a report outlining considerations which led to the conclusion that the "bar for labelling the Israeli regime as apartheid has been met." In April of 2021, Human Rights Watch released a report accusing Israeli officials of the crimes of apartheid and persecution under International Law and calling on the International Criminal Court to investigate "systemic discrimination" against Palestinians, becoming the first major international rights non-governmental-organisation to do so."

Randa Abdel-Fattah, a prominent Australian Palestinian advocate, brilliantly explained how Israel is an Apartheid state on Australia's ABC network saying: "Israel is a settler apartheid state. There is an apartheid state that preferences one racial group over another. It is infused in every single aspect of its legal processes. It's ethnic cleasning, its depopulation processes. It's military occupation. Its brutal military occupation in the West Bank, in East Jerusalem, in Gaza, its brutal siege on Palestinians in Gaza. It even affects Palestinians in the diaspora. My father is here today. He's older than the state of Israel. He was born in 1945. He has experienced 3 Nakbas, 1948, exiled in 1967 and today's ongoing Nakba. He cannot return to his house, which is still there because he is Palestinian. When we return as Palestinians, we have to go there on our Australian passport and we are at the mercy of a solider, a conscript, who will decide whether we can enter. He gave us 3 days the last visit and any Jewish person in this audience today, automatically has the right to return and live in my fathers birthplace. Don't tell me this is not apartheid."

The Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU) highlights how the Israeli government practices apartheid through an infographic posted on Instagram. "The Israeli government rules over all Israelis and Palestinians in both Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Under Israel's Nation-State Law, the right to self determination in the Land of Israel is unique to the Jewish people; non Jews, and particularly Palestinians, do not enjoy this same right. State-backed Israeli settles are ethnically cleansing Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem, displacing Palestinians from their homes so setters can move in and take over. More than 65 laws in Israel discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel, for example: Jewish towns may legally deny residency to Palestinians. Palestinian refugees expelled when Israel was created are forcibly denied their right to return; thousands have been shot trying to return to their homes. Any Jew around the world can become an Israeli citizen. Palestinians in the West Bank live under harsh Israeli military rule, in which they have no voice, while Jewish settlers live under civilian law, passed by Israel's Parliament. While Israelis, including illegal settlers, whisk freely through the West Bank on modern highways, Palestinians are forced onto decrepit roads, where their freedom of movement is tightly restricted via hundreds of checkpoints."


No, it's not complicated. It's quite simple: Palestine is the story of colonialism and dispossession. In a tweet, Yasmeen Alhaj asks "If a country's establishment results in 7 million refugees, what do you call it?" A country that's independence leads to a refugee crisis of its land's indigenous people, is by definition a colonialist state.

Decolonize Palestine summaries that “appeals to complexity have been historically employed in an attempt to defend the indefensible”. It continues: “This arcanization serves to make Palestine exceptional, meaning that our normal judgement or morality goes out of the window; they do not apply here due to these special circumstances. Normally, it would be difficult to argue against the right of refugees to return to their homes, but in the case of Palestine, these are special refugees created under special circumstances.”

The piece references a succinct quote by Israeli historian Ilan Pappé, which reads: “The last paradox is that the tale of Palestine from the beginning until today is a simple story of colonialism and dispossession, yet the world treats it as a multifaceted and complex story – hard to understand and even harder to solve… Israel succeeded, with the help of its allies everywhere, in building a multilayered explanation that is so complex that only Israel can understand it. Any interference from the outside world is immediately castigated as naïve at best or antisemitic at worst.”

Pro-Palestine demonstrators marched through the streets of London, passing Parliament and Downing Street (Reuters)


No, it's not a conflict. It's quite simple: Oppressor (Israel) and an Oppressed (Palestine). A Coloniser (Israel) and a Colonised (Palestine).”

In an Instagram post, The Slow Factory, writes: “a conflict means there is equal footing, which is not the case” in Palestine. “What is happening is settler colonisation, military occupation, land theft, and ethnic cleansing. There is an active oppressor (Israel) and an oppressed (Palestine). A coloniser (Israel) and a colonised (Palestine).”

In an article for Tribune, Asia Khatun writes: “These language choices, be they irresponsible or just ignorant, reinforce the notion that this is a conflict in which both sides have the means to be equally as violent towards the other. But the fact of the matter is that Israel is one of the most militarised occupying nations in the world, backed with billions of dollars and weapons from the USA. The power dynamic that Western society at large believes to be in existence simply does not exist.”




Amplify Palestinian voices:


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