Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, characterized by reflection, reading the Qur’an, spending time with friends and family, going to the mosque, and usually also great food. For many the food eaten this year to break the fast is a bit simpler than in previous years due to increased food prices with some being unable to break their fast at all, simply because they have no food.
However, for Palestinians living under occupation, Ramadan has taken on a different meaning. For them it is a time of facing increased human rights violations, abuse by the Israeli Occupation Army (also known as the IDF), struggle, resilience, and resistance. Make no mistake, the Palestinians still get together to eat, pray and spend time with each other, it is however never without calamities caused by their occupiers that force them to deal with checkpoints, beatings, colonists and more.
This is far from a new phenomenon, given that as of 2023, Palestine has been occupied for 75 years. What is also not new is the way the majority of Western news outlets report on the events that occur in Occupied Palestine. Every Ramadan there are increased incursions by Israel into the holy al Aqsa compound. These violent incursions have also taken place April 5th and April 6th. Although the April 5th raid into the Al-Qibli Prayer Hall in the Al-Aqsa Mosque by Israeli Police Officers was far from the first occurrence the footage of it still startled many. Videos taken inside the mosque show police officers relentlessly hitting worshipers with, chairs, batons and the butts of their guns; women and children are heard letting out gut wrenching screams. Additionally, at least 400 Palestinians were arrested.
Many media outlets have refered to worshippers being beaten and arrested in the Al Aqsa Mosque compound by Israeli Police Forces who are armed with assault rifles as “ clashes,” “confrontations,” “tensions” and “riots”. Another trend for reporting on events is letting both sides comment and not putting the events into context. The context being that one side is the occupier and the other is the occupied. What also should be clear is that Palestinians are not merely a people who suffer, they are also a people that resist (which is likely one of the reasons they have not been entirely wiped from the map yet). The worshippers responded to the violent raid into their mosque by hurling stones and setting off firecrackers that they’d brought to evening prayers for fear of possible clashes.
The media should indeed mention that firecrackers were set off and stones were thrown in response to the raid into the Al Aqsa mosque, as they should also report on other forms of resistance carried out by the Palestinians. But again, these should be put into the context that one is the occupier and one is the occupied. One has a rifle and is part of a multi-billion dollar army, the other has some stones and firecrackers.
In general newsegments about dead, wounded or otherwise harmed Palestinians is, or rather have been regularly accompanied by Israel, the occupier stating that it only wants peace. Of course, this is not something that is not expected to be stated anymore, given the fact that Israel now has the most right-wing, racist government it has ever had but also shows the pro-occupier stance of many media. This new government also makes this Ramadan and the future for Palestinians and Palestine as a state all the more terrifying.
But to get back to the way the news portrays events in Palestine and why it’s wrong. Oftentimes the term “occupied territories” is used and has, at least in parts of the West, come to denote a place name rather than a deliberate act of oppression that degrades the human condition. Occupation should not be the condition of a people for over 75 years and when newsworthy incidents occur here then the occupied should not be the ones depicted in the media as the terrorist.
I am also sick and tired of the double standards, clearly, Russia’s invasion and occupation of Ukrainian territory is wrong, violent and cruel. But equally clear is the cruelty, violence and most important illegality of Israel’s occupation of Palestine so let’s make it explicit in the reporting on Israel and Palestine. It is good to make reports on the resistance, courage, and strength shown by the Ukrainians but the resistance, courage, and strength of the Palestinians is equally if not more significant. However, it should not be, and is not a competition, as all peoples fighting against oppression should be supported.
As we observe Ramadan this year, let us not forget the struggles of the Palestinian people. Let us stand in solidarity with them as well as with the Rohingya, Kashmiris, Indian Muslims, and Yemenis and support their efforts to achieve freedom and justice, and work towards a world where people can observe their fast without fear or discrimination.