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Palestinians fight for freedom and are branded, while Ukrainians get applause (Al Jazeera features contributer to ‘A Land With A People’)


By Mohammed Rafik Mhawesh, Contributer to A Land With A People

Since the early hours of February 24, when Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, the world at large has been watching the Ukrainian people’s bravery and resilience in awe.

As soon as the first Russian soldier set foot in Ukraine, thousands of civilians took up arms and joined Ukrainian troops to defend their homeland against an indisputably superior military power. Even after shells started to rain on Ukrainian cities, devastating military infrastructure and residential areas alike, brave troops and civilians supporting them made it clear that they will continue to fight for their nation’s freedom until the very end.

In the face of this display of dignity and heroism, politicians and diplomats across the world raced each other to condemn Russia’s aggression and call on everyone to put their support behind Ukraine’s “resistance forces”.

And one of the politicians who rushed to voice his support for Ukraine and its people was Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

Speaking at a brief news conference, Lapid defined the “Russian attack on Ukraine” as “a serious violation of the international order”. “Israel condemns that attack and is ready and prepared to offer humanitarian assistance to Ukrainian citizens,” he said. “Israel is a country that has experienced wars, and war is not the way to resolve conflicts.”

Many watching this war from afar likely did not pay much attention to what Lapid has said, or dismissed him as just another politician trying to score points by making empty calls for peace and solidarity.

But for Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and apartheid, his defence of and support for the Ukrainian people was a slap in the face – it was a blatant display of hypocrisy.

And it was not only Israel’s foreign minister who hypocritically condemned Russia’s invasion and expressed support for the Ukrainian resistance while ignoring Israel’s own actions.

Thousands of Israelis also took to the streets in Tel Aviv “for Ukraine”. And as they marched with Ukrainian flags at hand and chanted “Free Ukraine”, Palestinian residents of the city watched on speechless. After all, that many Israelis have never taken to the streets in Israel to demand a “Free Palestine” or at least equal rights for Palestinians living under their state’s apartheid regime. To make matters worse, they undoubtedly know that whenever Palestinians try to take to the streets in Israel to say “Free Palestine” and raise their own flag, they face immediate arrest, police brutality, or worse.

The shock experienced by the Palestinian people since the beginning of the war in Ukraine was not caused solely by the hypocritical actions and words of Israeli officials and citizens either.

Since February 24, they also came face to face with the inherent hypocrisy of the global community at large.

After Russians entered Ukrainian territory, claiming that Ukraine was never a real country and the land was always Russian, all the Western leaders, media organisations and institutions started to passionately talk about “the illegality of occupations”, “occupied peoples’ right to armed resistance”, “the importance of sovereignty and national autonomy” – arguments and concepts that they never seriously put forward in defence of Palestinian people and their decades-long struggle for freedom.

In this past week, we Palestinians have been shocked time and again, realising that the global community has been gaslighting us for years….

You can read the rest at Al Jazeera

A Land With a People: Palestinians and Jews Confront Zionism

A Land With a People: Palestinians and Jews Confront Zionism, edited by Esther Farmer, Rosalind Petchesky & Sarah Sills.


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