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Basement Medicine

The student-run community news site of Vermont State University - Johnson

Basement Medicine

The student-run community news site of Vermont State University - Johnson

Basement Medicine

Why what’s happening to Palestinians is genocide

There have been a lot of questions, concerns, and criticisms raised regarding the most recent events that have transpired in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. As of October 7, different Palestinian resistance groups have begun to fight back yet again against Israel’s oppression and colonization. This topic has become especially contentious for many people as different oppressed groups are involved, alongside differing stories. This article is meant to present a more well-rounded and nuanced perspective, alongside debunking some of the more harmful ideologies regarding the genocide of Palestinians. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, genocide is defined as “the systematic and widespread extermination or attempted extermination of a national, racial, religious, or ethnic group.”

For full transparency, I am pro-Palestine. And I will do my best to present an accurate account of events from Palestinian and Jewish perspectives, while fervently debunking the Israeli government’s propaganda and demonstrating why what is happening in the Territories is genocide.

The Nakba (The Catastrophe)

Between 1947-1949, an ethnic cleansing began in Palestine by Zionist military forces, backed by British and US support. As a result, over 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly expelled, and an estimated 15,000 people were killed. At least 530 villages were destroyed. On May 14, 1948, the British mandate expired and Zionists declared Israel to be a sovereign nation-state. Many Palestinians and Muslims in general have called this event the Nakba, meaning “catastrophe” in Arabic, and still recount their stories today. 

A man by the name of George Khoury details one such story.

“Imagine people coming to your home with drawn M-16 rifles and kicking you and your family out, claiming that 2,000 years ago God promised it to them — as if God is in the real estate business. They demand that you leave immediately and take nothing with you, or you will die. What would you do? If you are residing in your home right now, would you ever allow anyone to come and steal it from you?”

Khoury goes on to describe how he was forcibly expelled from his home not once, but twice by Israeli Zionist forces. He was not only alive for the first expulsion and ethnic cleansing, but for a second. It’s a truly harrowing story and unfortunately, one that is not isolated. 

Just recently, The Guardian published an article telling the story of Doha Asous, an olive farmer in the Western Bank. She details how the IDF have raided and attacked her village, alongside many others.

“These attacks during harvest are, sadly, not new. It is like this every year, even though international volunteers have been coming regularly to help with the picking, and acting, too, as a protective presence. But even they have been set upon,” Asous says. “Seven years ago, an elderly Englishman was stoned and had to be taken to hospital, while others, since then, have been injured. But these assaults do not take place just during the harvest. Our village is regularly ransacked, most frequently on Saturday evenings by the young men from the settlements. It is a sport for them. Our school and agricultural college have been damaged too, while burning cars is treated as a game.”
And there are many, many stories like these. So why has this gone on for so long? The reason is Zionism.

Zionism as an Ideology

Zionism, by itself, is a nuanced and debated topic even in Jewish spaces. On the surface, it’s an ideology that says that the Jewish people deserve their own land and nation, which isn’t a bad thing on its own. However, in the current era, it has a negative connotation because of Israel’s actions. There are many Jewish scholars and people who have disagreed with the idea of Palestine/Israel belonging solely to the Jews. “Palestine does not ‘belong’ to the Jewish people, it belongs to G-d,” said @beekeep, a Jewish person on Tumblr. As Aharon N. Varady, a Jewish Leftist and anti-Zionist, stated, “Wherever I live, that is my Homeland.” There is no specific piece of land or place that is strictly Jewish, he elaborated.

There are those who believe that Zionism has many definitions. A tweet made by a Jewish activist known as @jewdas on Twitter dismisses the idea. 

“There’s an actual existing Zionism which practices apartheid and denial of human rights. But there’s another Zionism inside my head which is all rainbows and kosher marshmallows, so who can say which is the real Zionism?” 

The point @jewdas is trying to make is that regardless of what someone thinks Zionism is, Zionism must be defined by the material consequences of Zionist beliefs, despite what any individual thinks their Zionism is or looks like. In the age of the internet, anyone can find evidence of the crimes and violence committed in the name of Zionism.

Some people believe that Israelis have a divine right to be in Palestine because that is where they originate, but this is not explicitly true either. Both biblically and historically, it is acknowledged that Jewish people originate from Canaan, some parts of which do encompass Palestine. However, as @beekeep stated in their post:

“Palestine is not the ‘homeland’ of the Jewish people any more than Siberia is the homeland of Indigenous American tribes. Is there a historical connection? Yes, but through assimilation and migration Jews have found homes across the world.” 

Judith Butler, a Jewish scholar and professor who has written several books about the dangers and harm of Zionism, has heavily criticized the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians, calling it “genocide.”

Because of the many criticisms levied against Zionism by many Jewish people, it is difficult to ignore that Zionism inherently and in practice is violent and genocidal. Personally, everybody deserves to have their own place to call home, but morally, a home should not be claimed through the means of genocide. What is disturbing is that despite Israel supposedly being a haven for Jewish people of any kind, there are Jews living in Israel who are staunchly anti-Zionist and have been raided, beaten, and killed by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). 

You’ve also probably heard the term “apartheid” being used when referring to Israel. According to the Oxford Dictionary: “Apartheid is a policy or system of segregation or discrimination on the grounds of race.” It was specifically used in South Africa, but it also has basis in Israel’s policies regarding Palestinians as well. 

Ex-IDF soldiers have started an organization called “Breaking the Silence,” and they run a website under the same name. They are deserters of the army who wanted to expose what happens in the IDF. They have witnessed the torture and rape of so many people. Even the Israeli government has labeled such attacks as “pogroms.” According to the Jewish Virtual Library, pogrom means “an attack, accompanied by destruction, looting of property, murder, and rape, perpetrated by one section of the population against another.” 

So, if Zionism is a regressive ideology in practice, what about Hamas?

What About Hamas?

For me personally, the focus on Hamas as the violent terrorist group murdering Israeli civilians and killing babies in Western circles has become trite. 

Hamas is a political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Their full official title is the Islamic Resistance Movement. They have both a militaristic group and a social group. What people commonly think when they talk about Hamas is the armed wing known as the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, shortened to the Al-Qassam Brigades. What is true is that they are Islamic Fundamentalists who have been leading an armed conflict against the Israeli Defense Forces since the 1990s. 

Their reputation as a violent terrorist group in the west has not always been the case. Their origins started as peaceful protesters who were fighting for their rights. Hamas became violent when the Israeli government started killing protesters. This has been backed up by the Israel Times as the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has supported Hamas in the past to prevent Gaza and the West Bank from unifying to become a single Palestinian state, which backfired.

It is also unsurprising how people have strictly focused on Hamas as the primary group fighting back. The western framework of what is happening in Palestine is not a positive one, as news outlets call this genocide the “Hamas/Israel war.” This is far from the case, as multiple pro-Palestinian resistance groups have been involved in the recent rebellion, including Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the armed wing of the Marxist-Leninist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a secular movement. Besides the news outlet Al Jazeera, I have not been able to find any other news outlet discussing the other brigades involved. 

The focus on Hamas and the clear Islamophobia demonstrated in a lot of pro-Israeli sources is extremely disingenuous at best and vile at worst. The Defense minister of Israel, Yoav Gallant, has gone on record to state, “I have ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed. We are fighting human animals, and we are acting accordingly.”

Alongside these comments, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had this to say: “This is a struggle between the children of light and the children of darkness. Between humanity and the laws of the jungle.”

These words are emblematic of Nazi SS ideology, where they dehumanized Jewish people in a very similar way to how the Israeli government is currently dehumanizing Palestinians. 

What Hamas has done is brutal and violent, but in the grand scheme of things, is it worth condemnation? 

An article written by Al Jazeera discusses why Hamas attacked Israel on October 7: 

“Its attack was in response to Israeli violations of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and rising settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.” 

Alongside what has been described in the section about the Nakba, Hamas’ violent actions could be argued to have been inevitable.
In a historical context, this has happened multiple times – think of any revolution or rebellion. When you strip people of their rights, their land, their dignity, and their lives, they are bound to push back. But when they push back, we condemn them. Leil Zahra, a Queer and Transfeminist Palestinian activist stated this regarding the hypocrisy.

“In the narrative you feed, your violence is exceptional while ours is ingrained. You have normalized our suffering, outlawed our grief, and criminalized our anger. You can detain, torture, maim and murder, systematically for decades; yet it is not who you are. Israelis can make a booming industry out of brutal repression and murderous surveillance, yet they are ‘successful tech entrepreneurs.’ You can dance on the graves of starved children, desecrate stolen lands, call for the annihilation of entire populations, and cheer to the beat of wars and sieges; yet ‘have nothing to do with it.’ You are inherently a civilian! I am not extended this grace. I am a terrorist till I prove otherwise, and only within the parameters of your self-serving morality.”

This has also been noted by Jewish people as well, as several Israeli people have been arrested by the government for protesting the violence done against Palestinians online. The non-profit independent Jewish news outlet Forward has reported on this in their article titled “Dozens of Israelis arrested for social media posts defending Gaza, advocates say.” 

Hamas, even though people have claimed them as violent murderous villains, have released hostages who have explained Hamas’ treatment of them as “humane.”

American hostages Judith Raanan and Natalie Raanan were released on October 20. The 85-year-old Yocheved Lifshitz has also been released. Lifschitz described how Hamas was giving the hostages medicine and treatment for any injuries, that the Hamas people were friendly and kept the place clean. When she was released to the Red Cross, she shook the hand of one of the Hamas soldiers and said “Shalom,” which in Hebrew among Israelis is a way of saying “hello” and “goodbye.” 

Hamas’ statement regarding why they took almost 200 hostages was: “… We want Israeli troops to stop their aggression.” 

Whenever I think about oppressed peoples fighting back against their oppressors in violent ways, those same oppressors have always labeled the oppressed as “terrorists” and not as freedom fighters. 

“Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them,” said Assata Shakur, a member of the Black Liberation Army.

Is it right to kill civilians? No. But should people fault groups like Hamas for resorting to their tactics and place the blame solely on them as the aggressor? I believe not. 

Where It Gets Complicated

Though Jewish people at large are not the cause of this violence, there is still the very real possibility of diving into antisemitic language and ideas because of the conflation of Jewish people and Israel. In the words of @date-a-jew-suggestions, a Jewish online activist:

“Many things can be true at once. Israel is an apartheid state that unjustly occupies Palestinian land. Israel is a Jewish state. Jews worldwide do not bear the responsibility of the Israeli army or the government. The American government backs Israel, largely because of the efforts of evangelical Christian lobbyists. Whether or not Jewish Americans want this is irrelevant to the USA military. The American government is rooted in white supremacy and antisemitism and is constantly verging on Christian theocracy. Criticism of Israel, while necessary, can very easily be co-opted into antisemitism. … Jews and Muslims are not enemies. We must remember that and stand up for each other.”

And as they’ve stated, the implication and the statement are clear: Criticism of Israel is not antisemitic, but it can very easily become antisemitic if not careful. 

Even Jewish Holocaust survivors who live in Israel are not welcome there, as they live below the poverty line and are called “weaker Jews” by the Israeli government, as noted in the articles “Poverty Among Holocaust Survivors Hits a Nerve in Israel” by NPR and “How the State of Israel Abuses Holocaust Survivors” by TabletMag. 

Articles by Middle East Eye and NBC News also highlight how there is a massive disparity between European Jews and Non-European Jews in terms of education and income as well.

It is vitally important that we as observers remember this: Jewish people are not the enemy, and most of them do not have control over what happens in Israel/Palestine. There is an organization called “Jewish Voice for Peace” created by Jewish people in the United States who have organized to occupy Grand Central Station to put pressure on the US government to call for a ceasefire. 

In my research, most Palestinians who support a single state solution do not want to remove Jewish citizens, as noted by the Washington Institute. And while support for Hamas and a single state solution has increased in recent months, there are still a lot of Palestinians who want a two-state solution peacefully. The most likely outcome is that if Palestinians get a single state, Israelis will not be forced to leave. And while there are some Palestinians who do want to remove anyone who is Israeli from Palestine, their opinions seem to be in the minority. 

In an interview with Jewish Currents, a news outlet, Mohammed Zraiy, the Gaza coordinator for the One Democratic State Initiative, a Palestinian group that advocates for a secular democratic state in Israel/Palestine, stated: 

“My message to the colonizers who left their home countries to occupy our lands is simply to go back home. As for those who were born here, my message is: You are secondary victims of this colonial project. You are being used to occupy other people’s lands, and your Jewishness is being politicized for colonial means. … Today you must make a choice: Either support this deadly colonial project, or side against it by supporting the liberation of Palestine and the establishment of a democratic state that liberates Palestinians, as well as Jews, from Zionism. A state that will honor the right of Palestinian refugees to return and compensation and that will welcome and protect its Jews as citizens of Palestine. This transition from Zionism to democracy will not cost anyone’s life; it will cost you your colonial privileges, and will free you—and us, its primary victims—from colonialism.”

Why Haven’t You Included as Many Israeli Sources?

Many Israeli sources are inherently biased and full of propaganda. They have boasted about bombing a hospital full of Palestinian civilians, and two minutes later deleted their initial post before blaming it on Hamas. The story in full has been featured on Channel 4 News, a public British broadcasting service, who have debunked the Israeli government’s claims.

Recently, there have been reports of the IDF bombing around hospitals and an ambulance in Gaza.

“An Israeli air strike on an ambulance convoy near the al-Shifa Hospital in the besieged Gaza Strip has killed 15 people and injured 60 others … A convoy of ambulances was transporting critically wounded patients from al-Shifa Hospital to the Rafah border crossing with Egypt when it was targeted in an Israeli attack.” Al-Jazeera reported on November 3.

In a video shot by the IDF themselves from a warplane, a group of children gathered at a water tank in eastern Gaza were killed by a firebomb shot by the IDF.

In just six days, from October 7 to October 12, the Israeli government launched over 6,000 missiles into the Gaza Strip, CNN and Al Jazeera reported. Even civilians within Israel who are Jewish are being forced to tell lies and are coerced to do so. There is footage of civilians within Israel being coerced into lying; these videos are freely available online. 

On the topic of footage, the Israeli government has been publicly exposed for telling lies. The Israeli government went as far as to create an AI image of people supporting the IDF in a parade. This was instantly debunked by people online as soon as it was posted because AI images are not hard to spot if you know what to look for (such as hands, weird poses, and uncanny imagery that would not appear in real photography).

On many popular social media sites, video evidence of the crimes Israel has committed against Palestinians have surfaced. There are countless videos of Palestinian children being treated and rescued from debris caused by bombs, alongside the accounts of everyday Palestinians and Israeli Jews who are documenting the violence.

Fourteen hundred people were killed in Hamas’ attack. At the time of writing, over 9,000 people have been killed in Gaza, most of which were young children. President Biden has made comments denying the death count. The names of all the dead have been released online by the Palestinian Health Ministry following these comments. 

The Arabic IDF Facebook page has stated: “Due to a lack of medical equipment and the lack of medical staff, it was decided to bomb the Baptist Hospital in Gaza.” This post was deleted as well, but screenshots of the post have since been spread. 

Israel has used phosphorus bombs and gas to kill civilians in Lebanon and in Gaza, which is illegal according to international law and extremely deadly. White phosphorus fire “causes severe burns, often down to the bone, that are slow to heal and likely to develop infections,” Human Rights Watch said. 

The spokesperson for the Israeli army, Daniel Hagari, has said: “The focus is on destruction, not accuracy.” 

And with Israel taking away water, electricity, internet, mobile services, and gas from Gaza, there are so many people suffering and dying every day—most of which are young children as noted by the Palestinian Health Ministry. Thousands of people were left in darkness for several days. The only way civilians have been able to communicate is through the speaker at a Mosque, begging for help, as seen in videos circulating online.

Countless people, Jewish and Muslim, have described the Israeli government as fascists, and many Jewish people have fervently agreed with this, especially those impacted by the Holocaust. Israeli Holocaust scholar Raz Segal, in an interview with Palestine Deep Dive, explained why what’s happening in Gaza is genocide “without a doubt.”

There is video evidence of the Israeli Minister of Internal Security, Ben Gavier, with his extremist supporters, singing a song about the joy of killing children in Gaza. There are IDF soldiers making videos on TikTok, kidnapping Palestinians and torturing them to the sound of the “Mamtera Im Mamtera” – an Israeli children’s song. 

The reality of the situation is that the Israeli government is not a trustworthy or reliable source. All their propaganda about Hamas and Palestinians (which they consider one in the same) are lies.

They want to cover up their crimes, but we cannot let them.

How Can I Help?

This is a very important question that we, even as Americans, need to ask ourselves. Many people have shrugged their shoulders and stated, “nothing I can do about it,” but this isn’t true. 

The biggest thing you can do is to educate yourselves on the history of Palestine and Israel. There are countless articles and stories online, but the best resource I have found is a website called, which is dedicated to telling the story of Palestinians and debunk lies told by the Israeli government. 

Show support for Palestinians in your community in-person and online. Share videos of the violence happening in Gaza, be actively involved in the spread of information, while remembering to tag videos of extreme violence with content warnings. Palestinians should not have to be re-traumatized online. The Israeli government wants to silence this, which may be why they have cut power in Gaza.

And finally, we can all call our state representatives and demand a ceasefire. You can pick up your phone right now, look up your senators and representatives, and call their offices in DC. 

If you have phone anxiety or don’t know what to say, there are plenty of helpful guides online. If you’d like a script, here is one which has combined two by the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights. 

For Senators/House Representatives:

“My name is [YOUR FIRST & LAST NAME], and I’m a constituent of [SENATOR’S NAME/REPRESENTATIVE’S NAME]. I’m calling about Palestine and Israel. The senator/representative must take immediate steps to deescalate, by calling for a ceasefire, pressuring Israel to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, and refusing to send any additional weapons or funding to the Israeli military. I am asking the senator/representative to publicly call for a ceasefire along the lines of the new Ceasefire Now resolution in the House led by Cori Bush and Rashida Tlaib.
Any more military funding to Israel will further fuel violence by actively arming the Israeli government. This is a genocide. The senator/representative must act now to stop Israel’s genocide against Palestinian people in Gaza and end all U.S. complicity in Israel’s violence.”

Furthermore, boycott companies such as Disney by canceling your Disney+ subscription (they have pledged 2 million dollars for “humanitarian aid” when none has been donated to people in Gaza), McDonalds (they are providing meals for the IDF), and Starbucks (they are suing Unions for posting pro-Palestinian support online.) This has been reported by Times of Israel, ABC News, and Disney themselves.

It is very possible that with continued public outcry and protests, the US government cannot continue to support Israel.
“US President Joe Biden and his top advisers are warning Israel with growing force that it will become increasingly difficult for it to pursue its military goals in Gaza as the global outcry intensifies about the scale of humanitarian suffering,” CNN reported in their article “US warns Israel amid Gaza carnage it doesn’t have long before support erodes.”

This is good news, but we need to keep applying pressure.

What is happening in Gaza and the West Bank is not something we should be funding or supporting, but this process is not easy or comfortable, as many activists have stated.

“I spoke at a pro-Palestinian rally at my university. I was shaking the whole time. I was so fearful. Support Palestine through your fear. My discomfort, my fears that I will be posted to some website or have my name doxxed, that is nothing compared to the fear and suffering of the Palestinian people. A moment’s nervousness in the face of a crowd and counter-protestors will never be able to compare. Decolonizing is not a comfortable process. Fighting oppression is not a comfortable process. It is not meant to be. If you are waiting for it to be easy, you are so terribly mistaken. It will never be easy. It will never be comfortable. You cannot wait until it is broken into palatable, bite-sized chunks. It will never be.”

We need to keep talking about this. We need to take a stand, and if we dismiss the suffering of people beyond and even within our borders, what does that say about us?


For a full list of citations and sources, see this link.




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About the Contributor
Sage As8bakw Selec
Sage As8bakw Selec, Staff Writer, Art Director
Sage "As8bakw" Selec (they/them) is an Indigenous and Bosnian artist and writer. They pride themselves on being critically honest and being passionate about their endeavors. They are currently living in Vermont, have a cat named Jiji, and enjoying being broke.