The Fight For Liberation From the Bay Area To Sheikh Jarrah

الكفاح من أجل التحرير من الخليج إلى الشيخ جراح

(Photos by Farhad Golriz, main graphic by Leticia Luna/The Citizen)

May 26, 2021

By Farhad Golriz, Staff Writer

Tensions between Palestine and Israel flared up after Israeli police disconnected speakers that were broadcasting prayers during the first day of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam as Israeli President Reuven Rivlin was about to give a speech on April 13. 

While a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel was announced on May 20, the people of Palestine continue to live under the oppression and fear from Israel that they have experienced over the past 73 years. This has been ongoing since Nakba Day in 1948, where thousands of Palestinians were expelled from their homes when Israel was founded. 

Tensions heightened in early April 2021 when clashes between both the Palestinians and Israeli security forces occurred in East Jerusalem. Later in May, many were injured during a protest between Palestinian civilians and Israeli security forces near Al-Aqsa Mosque and the surrounding neighborhoods. These tensions in Gaza increased when airstrikes were carried out by Hamas in retaliation to earlier Israeli aggressions.

Pro-Palestine supporters march during the “All Out For Palestine” demonstration in San Francisco, CA On May 15, 2021. (Farhad Golriz/The Citizen)

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the recent death toll is 232 people. 65 of these people were children, 39 were women and 17 elderly people. A total of 1,900 people were injured. In addition, 21 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank by Israeli security forces. 

In 2016, the US Government pledged $38 billion in military aid to Israel for 2019-2028. The Biden Administration earlier this month notified Congress of a proposed $735 million arms sale to Israel. Congress is now reviewing this proposal given the increase in violence. On December 23, 2016 the UN Security Council Resolution 2334 denounced the legality of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as a violation of international law. Former President Obama abstained from voting on this resolution.

On December 2, 2020, the United Nations adopted seven resolutions citing the illegal annexing of occupied Palestinian territory and requesting respect for international law, promotion of human security and de-escalation of the violence.

Every year, people across the globe take to the streets in solidarity with the Palestinian community to mark the remembrance of Nakba by holding large protests and rallies on May 15th. The Arab Resource and Organizing Center and the Bay Area Palestinian Youth Movement organized two separate protests, one on May 15 in commemoration of Nakba. Another rally with thousands in solidarity with the Palestinians on strike in Palestine was held in San Francisco on May 18. 

Two protesters wave Palestinian flags on top of a car fitted with a PA system during “Resistance Until Liberation: Bay Area” protest outside the Israeli consulate in San Francisco, CA on May 18, 2021. (Farhad Golriz/The Citizen)

It is heartwarming to see this sign of unity and how many people around the world are coming out to support our fellow brothers and sisters in Palestine. 

As an Iranian, however, I am extremely saddened, heartbroken, frustrated and angry that there are still so many who have decided to remain silent about the ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people. I stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine now and forever.

The continuing crisis in Palestine is not only a Muslim cause, it is a humanitarian one. The Palestinian people have not done anything to deserve such cruel treatment. The people of Palestine have only wanted to be allowed dignity and to be shown respect for their lives and their sovereignty. 

These Palestinians should be seen as family and friends who are dying every day. One does not need to be a Muslim to stand up for Palestine, one just needs to be human. This conflict is not a matter of religion or faith, this is a matter of basic humanity for the Palestinian people who have been living under oppression for 73 years. 

I believe we must do what is needed to bring awareness to this ongoing genocide. It is time we take our voices to the streets to protest and to hold those in power accountable for supporting the Israeli government. The United States and other nations need to condemn the illegal, cruel and inhumane acts of aggression that have been committed by Israel and should address these matters immediately. 

Pro-Palestine protesters wave the Palestinian flag during the Resistance Until Liberation : Bay Area demonstration outside the Israeli consulate in San Francisco, CA on May 18, 2021. (Farhad Golriz/The Citizen)

All aid to Israel should be blocked and sanctions should be implemented. I call on the US government, particularly President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Spokesperson for the State Department Ned Price and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in addition to all other allies to immediately end all aid and funds to Israel.

The attack on Al Jalaa Tower in Gaza, which was the headquarters of both Al Jazeera and Associated Press, should be considered an international war crime. This attack is an example of attempts to silence the mainstream media from covering the ongoing conflict. The US government needs to hold Israel accountable for this airstrike and to protect all journalists. As a student journalist, this makes me concerned that this is also an attack on journalism.  

Seeing mainstream media outlets such as CNN, NBC and ABC have portrayed these current and ongoing tensions as a one-sided issue. This is not just unfair it is also untrue. The media is at its best when it tells the full story, and the Palestinian people have routinely been painted as the enemy.

If any other country were to commit these same crimes, it would be labeled “terrorism.“ But since this conflict involves Israel, people are careful on how they discuss this matter, and the main narrative that Israel is defending its people.

Four members of Congress who I deeply appreciate and admire for speaking up on this ongoing conflict are Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Bernie Sanders who have demanded for years that the US stop supporting and funding Israeli military efforts.  

It breaks my heart to see how fearful people are to call Israel out for the years of genocide and injustice out of their fear of losing their jobs or having their social media accounts be shut down. We must not allow this to silence us, but to empower us to continue to speak up against what is wrong.  

I would like to acknowledge two great organizations who have been working around the clock to set up events in support of Palestine. Thank you to the Palestinian Youth Movement and the American Muslims For Palestine for everything you have done for the Palestinian community and to bring awareness to the ongoing conflict while bringing together many communities during such a needed time. 

Pro-Palestine protesters gather outside the Israeli Consulate in San Francisco, CA during “Resistance Until Liberation: Bay Area” protest on May 18, 2021. (Farhad Golriz/The Citizen)

 

One organization I find trustworthy and impactful that I have donated to is Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF). This organization currently has people on the ground in Gaza and has been fervently in support of the People.  

Despite the current ceasefire being in place, the conflict is far from being over for good. This only inhibits further escalation and does not mean we stop fighting for the sovereignty of the Palestinian people. We must continue to protest and use social media to bring awareness to this conflict and demand further change from the Biden administration and other foreign governments.   

Now is the time to get involved and stay involved, to be the voice for the many Palestinians with no voice. This conflict has gone on for far too long and it is time we say enough is enough. How many more Palestinian men, women and children need to die before the US holds Israel accountable?

Pro-Palestine protesters gather outside the Israeli Consulate in San Francisco, CA during “Resistance Until Liberation: Bay Area” protest on May 18, 2021. (Farhad Golriz/The Citizen)

 

 

 

 

 

I encourage all those with a platform to bring awareness and a voice to the many Palestinian people who are looking for a voice in this world. I call on all communities to come together and unite in solidarity with the Palestinian community. 

“Inshallah”- God willing, together as one we will stand up against injustice. I pray that one day all Palestinians will be able to live in peace, freedom and safety.

حرروا فلسطين من النهر إلى البحر. أوقفوا الاحتلال الإسرائيلي غير الشرعي وانقذوا الشيخ جراح

Free Palestine From The River To The Sea. End the illegal Israeli occupation and save Sheikh Jarrah.

Golriz’s most recent demonstration photography can be found at “All Out For Palestine” and “Resistance Until Liberation: Bay Area”.