The Conflict of Language

Because this situation has religious and cultural ties, I would like to approach it with a disclaimer: I stand in solidarity with all oppressed people, everywhere, irrespective of the color of their skin or the beliefs in their hearts. I side with humanity.


Prior to the most recent ceasefire in Gaza, my heart bled for the 2,143 deceased Palestinian people just as it did for the 72 Israelis whose lives were lost as well.

When the sun sinks below the horizon at dusk, it is key to have one maxim echo through our minds and our hearts: all human life is precious.

But sadly, this truism has been eclipsed by the way society explains such a sensitive issue. Essential facts are left in the shadows, while caustic hate-speech and ignorance bask in the light.

The biggest misconception we all so often contribute to lies in the way we describe the ongoing situation in Palestine. It concerns the language we use and the global discourse that we have adopted to explain the occupation.

My point in case is simple: this is not a conflict, and it is both absurd and incongruous to define it as such.

As Ferrari Sheppard of Stop Being Famous most eloquently stated after his trip to the occupied lands, “There is no Palestinian-Israeli conflict; there is only oppression.”

Why is it, then, that society perpetually attempts to use dialogue that equates the oppressor with the resistors?

Tanks vs. Stones
Tanks vs. Stones (Jenin)

Gaza is, by Noam Chomsky’s definition, the largest open-air prison in the world. A roughly 140-square-mile strip, Gaza houses over one million civilians who are exposed to daily brutality and arbitrary punishment, including a cruel calorie-count restriction and an extremely limited water supply.

Gaza’s children measure their ages by the number of wars they have survived.

The Palestinians cry, but their cries are merely silenced by the roar of missiles coming from across the border.

Most heart wrenching, however, is the sheer violence against the Palestinian people that is almost always masked or justified by Israeli public relations. Specifically, the media’s lingo perverted the reality of the situation during this summer’s war on Gaza, as prominent news outlets likened Palestine’s defense mechanisms to those of Israel’s.

You take my water, burn my olive trees, destroy my house, take my job, steal my land, imprison my father, kill my mother, bombard my country, starve us all, humiliate us all, but I am to blame: I shot a rocket back.

Let’s get one thing right: rockets are not synonymous with missiles. Both may be harmful, but a missile is a guided, explosive weapon used by military operations during times of war, and a rocket is much less sophisticated.

Israel’s missiles are purportedly a response to Hamas’ rockets, but this is as disproportionate a rejoinder as it is brutal.

Modern weapons, naval vessels and attack jets – all used to bomb the densely populated city of Gaza. A city with schools, hospitals, mosques, and refugee camps that face the near-constant threat of collapsing into the rubble. A city with absolutely no defense, no army, no air force, no navy. No protection.

You can’t expect a “conflict” between a state with advanced military superiority and another state with absolutely no military at all. That’s not a conflict. That’s a massacre, a genocide, an ethnic-cleansing of the Palestinian people.

I began with a disclaimer, so I consider it best to reiterate it and conclude with one as well, since this topic is especially controversial on campus. I am not writing this column to boast my affinity for Palestine, but rather to express my unbounded support for all of humankind.

I believe in peace. I support coexistence. I advocate for a people’s right to return to their home. And I utterly and irrevocably condemn illegal occupation and strict blockades, the use of excessive violence and force, the illegal annexation of land and continual harassment with impunity.

Not just in Palestine, but globally.

The Poly Post. Vol. 30, Issue No. 2

2 thoughts on “The Conflict of Language

  1. Salina, you are a talented writer and I believe that you have the ability and the voice to change journalism and news reporting for the better. Many Americans are aware of media’s biases. I applaud you for dissolving them.

    Liked by 1 person

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