Palestinians are humans.

Introduction:  Today, I’d like to share a statement from the author of “When Roads Dissolve” and someone I’m glad to have as a friend, Ruth Jeffers. Ruth lived five months in Palestine as a student and volunteer where she began to work on a book, Bodies of Salt, of which “When Roads Dissolve” is an excerpt. In her words, the project was motivated by the “beauty and injustice occurring in occupied Palestine” and is written for “every Palestinian who showed [her] endless generosity as [she] witnessed their homeland.” Earlier this week, I asked her if she would like the opportunity to share her thoughts on the Israel/Palestine situation, both the current developments and the long historical perspective. I feel this to be a measured piece and I’m grateful to share her call for recognizing common humanity and its pursuit of universal liberty in the face of economic devastation and violence “from all directions.”

                                        Palestinians are humans.

It seems that a profound number of people do not believe this, and western media is to blame. Before I went to Palestine, I had only heard about the people there whenever the news reported Israeli deaths. I never heard the word “Palestinian” without the word “terrorist” beside it. Growing up in early 2000s America, I was taught to associate Arab people generally and Palestinian people specifically with violence. This is exactly what is happening now. Israel and its allies are relying on their citizens to believe three things: Palestinians are terrorists; terrorists are not humans; and humans can kill nonhumans without violating our morality. Believing these lies leads us to kill civilians, including hundreds of children, in the name of humanity. Believing these lies is currently massacring upward of one thousand people in Gaza and scores more in the West Bank, and it has been murdering, abusing, and dispossessing Palestinians for over 75 years.

                                        Palestinians are humans. 

Much like saying Black Lives Matter, this does not negate the value of other lives. Just as there is no hegemonic system saying white people have no value, there is no hegemonic system saying that Israeli people have no value (remember, Jewish and Israeli are not interchangeable. The world is full of antisemites who are currently flying the Israeli flag). I don’t think I have to explain that human life has value or that the people massacred within Israel’s borders matter. Their deaths are certainly crimes against humanity, and their loss is part of this grief that is heavy in my heart. What I’m asking you to consider is that dismantling the system that led to this violence and the genocidal collective punishment on Gazans is our only hope of preventing both from happening again. The state of Israel was established and is maintained on the premise that only Jewish people have the right to live in the land as full citizens. This premise designates Palestinians - the people who have lived between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea for centuries - as lesser beings, unworthy of the right to live freely and peacefully in their homeland. The foundation of the state of Israel is violence toward Palestinians in the name of Jewish freedom, and we should know by now that freedom based on another’s captivity cannot last, as it is not true freedom. What I’m asking you to condemn is one of the most powerful hegemonic systems in the world - the US-Israel alliance - that for decades has been saying that Palestinians have no value and that has been using guns, bombs, and bulldozers to realize its vision of Palestine as “a land without a people for a people without a land.”

                                        Palestinians are humans.

Like all humans, when oppressed, Palestinians want freedom. Like all humans, Palestinians have joy, love, and hope in their lives that makes freedom nonnegotiable. Like all humans, they resist oppression and pursue freedom in different ways and disagree on what is effective or right or necessary to achieve it. Like all humans, they are frustrated, discouraged, and angry when their calls for freedom are ignored, condemned, and violently opposed. Like all humans, they persist in pursuing freedom. We have no right to condemn a whole people to death when a group within that people resorts to violence after we refuse to listen to their decades of protest against their imprisonment.

                                        Palestinians are humans.

The rejection of this fact expels Palestinians from their homes and builds concrete walls to keep them from returning. It murders them in their schools, places of worship, homes, fields, and refugee camps. It holds them in prison without charge. It harasses them at checkpoints, on buses, and in their holy sites. It denies them the ability to travel, to visit their families, to swim in the ocean. It demolishes their water tanks, schools, homes, homes rebuilt the first time, homes rebuilt the twentieth time. It colonizes, occupies, and denies human rights with impunity. And right now, it bombs homes, mosques, churches, hospitals, ambulances, and schools. It bombs a people who are 50% children. It bombs people who cannot escape and cuts off their food, power, and medical supplies. It kills them from all directions, year after year.

                                        Palestinians are humans.

If we unconditionally support the Israeli state, we do not believe that human lives matter, that civilians should not be targets, or that children’s lives are precious. If we unconditionally support the Israeli state, we simply believe that Palestinians are not humans.

                                        Palestinians are humans.

So call your representatives, donate to emergency medical aid in Gaza, and question any media that is making you think a genocide of human beings is just, moral, or righteous.

-- Ruth Jeffers, 10/13/2023

*These thoughts are the product of five months spent in Palestine and a subsequent year studying the history, following the news, and listening to people who have been thinking about and experiencing this much longer than I have. I recommend the following resources if you are unfamiliar with the context in which the present moment is situated, and I recommend the below media sources that I follow for humane, accurate, and contextualized information about current events.

Take action:

  • URGENT: Tell Congress to stop fueling violence - JVP (


Organizations to follow:

  • Jewish Voice for Peace

  • The IMEU

  • Adalah

  • +972 Magazine

  • The Freedom Theatre

  • Breaking the Silence

  • If Not Now

  • Mondoweiss

  • B’tselem

Individuals to follow:

  • Awdah Al-Hathalean

  • Noura Erakat

  • Plestia Alaqad

Other news sources (remember nothing is perfect):

  • Al Jazeera

  • Eye on Palestine