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The Lalawatermelon Slices
The Lalawatermelon Slices
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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Toronto chapter.

Trigger Warning: This article describes violence, war, genocide. 

When I first heard the word “genocide,” I was at Albert Campbell Square in Scarborough, where a politician was speaking to a large audience of Tamils, many of whom had survived the Tamil genocide in Sri Lanka. The Tamil genocide, also known as the Sri Lankan Civil War, was an over 20-year-long ethnic conflict between the majority Sinhalese state and the minority Tamils. The politician mentioned that the word “genocide” comes from Latin, meaning “killing a nation.” Though the Tamil Civil War officially ended in 2009, the deep hatred of the Sri Lankan state against Tamils is ongoing. It didn’t create a safe place for Tamils; hate doesn’t simply go away. 

With the recent events happening in Palestine, the pain and suffering faced by my parents in Sri Lanka is no different from the Palestinian struggle. Here, the Palestinian genocide is much worse because the entire world is watching and nothing is being done to stop the loss of innocent lives. 

On October 7th, the world was sent into a frenzy regarding Hamas’ attack on Israel. This led to the deaths and kidnapping of civilians by the militant organization. Hamas plans to return the hostages as long as the State of Israel releases the thousands of Palestinians in Israeli prisons. 

Before the attack on October 7th, approximately 5200 Palestinians were jailed in Israeli prisons

This number of Palestinian detainees has increased since the attack, with Israel arresting about 4000 laborers from Gaza working in Israel as well as conducting overnight army raids, resulting in the arrest of thousands of other Palestinians. Since the attack, there have been numerous bombings and killings conducted by Israel against Palestinians, particularly children. Save the Children reported that more children have been killed in Gaza than in all global conflicts annually since 2019; in 2022, there were 2985 children killed in armed conflicts around the world, 2515 in 2021, 2674 in 2020, and 4019 in 2019. 

The response by the international community and the media was to blame Palestinians for the October 7th Hamas attack. We see interviewers asking Palestinians who have just lost loved ones in recent bombings by Israel to condemn Hamas as they mourn. Yet, the media remains scared to push back on Israeli’s genocidal actions or even acknowledge how their journalist colleagues are being slaughtered along with their families. It is something that the media doesn’t want to utter for them; people either die or are killed. You see, this didn’t begin on October 7th. We must go back in time. 

The State of Israel was meant to serve as “a national home for the Jewish people” through the Balfour Declaration made by the British government in 1917. At this point, the British had no control over Palestine and had no authority to promise land that was already being occupied to another population. Handing over the keys to Palestine to the Jewish population gained significant momentum in the aftermath of the Holocaust. The guilt felt by the West for not doing more and acting sooner during WWII is seen as a way to provide restitution to a population that had undergone crimes against humanity. As mentioned by famous American writer and civil rights activist James Baldwin regarding the creation of the state of Israel in a 1979 article,

“But the state of Israel was not created for the salvation of the Jews; it was created for the salvation of the Western interests. This is what is becoming clear (I must say that it was always clear to me). The Palestinians have been paying for the British colonial policy of “divide and rule” and for Europe’s guilty Christian conscience for more than thirty years (pg 15).” 

By 1947, the problem created by Britain was handed over to the UN, resulting in Resolution 181, which would divide Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. The details within the agreement were unsatisfactory, resulting in a war between Zionist paramilitary groups with the goal of mass expulsion of Palestinians from Palestine to create the Jewish state, all of which culminated in the Nakba, meaning “catastrophe.” 

Still, the atrocities conducted by Israel are felt today. Currently, the people of Gaza are being held hostage, not only by Israel, but also by the West, including Canada. We are continuing to play a role in the suffering and killing of Palestinians and the prevention of access to clean water, food, and life. 

You have Palestinians conducting press conferences while surrounded by a mountain of bodies, saving animals to touch Western sentiment, having children saying they want to live like the other children, yet still, nothing is being done to call a ceasefire. 

Unlike Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, I can, without a doubt, call for a ceasefire without stumbling over my words. Can you? 

From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free 🍉

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Sahana G

U Toronto '24

Hey! My name is Sahana, and I am currently a fourth-year student at UTSC, completing a double major in public policy and city studies.