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The Lucrative Fetishisation of Palestine

  • Opinion

By Anonymous

 This activism presents itself as benevolent and kind, combined with brazen virtue signalling constantly putting itself on display.

From having the Palestine Society informally led by a white president during the previous academic year to the newly elected SU Co-Presidents capitalising on their so-called activism for Palestine, I have seen the unacceptable at this university. We pride ourselves on our revolutionary campus climate and rich history of student activism, though when it comes to Palestine, there seems to be a deep desire for the white student body to hog the space, and then later proceed to make their £29K salaries off the backs of the 30,000 of us who have already been killed by the Israeli Occupying Forces. This activism presents itself as benevolent and kind, combined with brazen virtue signalling constantly putting itself on display.

One of the elected Co-Presidents went to Instagram and gave an Arabic monologue about voting for them and how it will be the stepping stone in the right direction, and this leaves me wondering: who is this really the right direction for? They are looking for the Arab vote, expecting to get it due to their constant reminding us of the hard work that specific community has put into organising. So, again, I’ll ask a question of a similar nature: who is this activism for? Is it for you or is it for us – the Palestinians?

There are numerous Palestinians on campus, and you’ll almost never find one in these spaces; there are none in the Palestine Society and the Coalition, the group to which the newly elected Co-Presidents adhere. This is also the same group that utilised us for the win. Now I cannot precisely outline why we are not in these spaces, but I can hypothesise about an array of reasons. From conversing with Palestinians and questioning them on their lack of engagement in these spaces, I was often told that they did not feel welcome because of a tendency for the conversations to be out of touch, deluded, and detached from ground zero. Often, in these spaces, you run into the issue of finding people talk about Palestinians as though they are concepts, abstract forms even, because of that space’s lack of willingness to genuinely engage with Palestinians, but rather simply tokenise them.

Another reason I will comfortably put forth, separate from the white inclination to conceptualise our existence even when it is looking you in the eye, is the recruiting mechanisms exercised by these spaces; they tend to recruit a projection of themselves – people who are also in the business of stirring the conversation on Palestine as they please, placing themselves as the all-knowers of the Palestinian condition. Speaking on a more personal level, the tokenisation is so deliberate, and the conversation is so detached, that I would advise my own younger brother to stay away from these spaces – even if they were to miraculously welcome him.

If this said activism is for the Palestinians, then why are we ousted from these spaces? I’ll remind you of the white individual who informally ran the Palestine Society, who called out the only Palestinian in the society at the time, for presenting ‘zionist, imperialist’ arguments as a rebuttal to the Palestinian’s disagreement of the performative direction of the society. These people claim that the spaces are for us, but then we are shunned upon disagreement – better yet, we do not exist in them at all, but the virtue signalling and patronising whiteness invested in hogging up the space will still get that £29k salary.

We’ve all gathered anxiously awaiting the people to be assuming office in the Student Union to be announced, and there it was, an ensuing surprise awaiting us. Amidst the announcements of the winners, the keffiyeh and ‘Free Palestine’ catchphrases were thrown around conjoined with laughter and smiles by the groups backing the winners, and that is precisely the lack of taste and gruelling disrespect that we face, all because we are told this activism is for us. You wave around the keffiyeh in laughter and dispel your humour upon winning, and we are expected to sit there and watch it because again, we’re told it is for us.

To those groups, do not claim this activism is for us and be slightly more unabashed about your vested interest in Palestine, and maybe then I will call it ‘honest activism’.

To us Palestinians, your death is never up for debate nor are we waiting on the white man to save us – we will do it ourselves as we always have, standing firm in front of the Goliath.

P.S. The keffiyeh is not an ‘election week outfit,’ for most of us, it is all our grandparents were left with.


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