Palestine Vigil Script

Hello, I’m a member of League of Chinese Feminists at W&M, an unofficial student organization dedicated to raise awareness on issues that would otherwise be ignored in and out of China. I want to thank William and Mary chapter of Student for Justice in Palestine for inviting me to speak at this vigil.

Yesterday another friend asked me the reactions of international students on the subject matter, and instantly I realized how silent we are. We are usually quiet on issues like this, but in case anyone else here is an international student, I want to take this chance to say thank you for coming, and you are not alone. It does take courage to be here as a foreigner, so I am glad that you took the initiative to show support.

I believe other speakers and many information shared by SJP have provided a good introduction to what has been going on in Palestine right now. There are limited resources, and it in itself shows the necessity to organize and advocate for Palestinian people, particular at this time, in this country, as the US government are sending weapons to Israel as a form of support for “peace”.

I want to focus on women in Palestine, especially those who are activists. Below is information I only found today, so I apologize for any limitations. I did make sure they are from credible sources, but I also figured it is a very complicated subject with a lot of rich contents. This is mainly to offer some perspectives, and hopefully it will raise some awareness on their struggles and efforts in their daily life and beyond.

It should not surprise you that women have been heavily engaged in political activism in Palestine. However, we normally don’t talk about it especially in the West. Several scholars highlighted their engagement in informal systems, and such efforts are often neglected by scholars. “ For them, neither official “peace” negotiations nor liberationist, revolutionary activism offers promising solutions to unlock the status quo of political stagnation and paralysis in Palestine…

Women confront the Israeli army when they try to access and tend their occupied lands, when they circumvent and sneak through the illegal Israeli apartheid wall into Jerusalem to sell their fruits and vegetables, when they defy mobility restrictions to travel with their family and friends in the West Bank, when they visit their imprisoned relatives, when they provide alternative schooling and childcare, when the army shuts down everyday life in Palestine, and, last but not least, when they do their best to provide—to the extent that this is possible—a normal life filled with hope and joy to their children, families, and friends…” (RICHTER-DEVROE) Professor Abdo at Carleton University, she herself a survivor of Israli prison, wrote in her book, “At least since the 1960s, militant anti-colonial fighters including women have filled prisons and detention camps in many parts of the world…the state (and its prison authorities) uses women’s bodies as a site of victimization and a tool of control; it also demonstrates how women use the same tool, that is, their own bodies, as a tool to challenge and resist their victimization by prison authorities…” Of course, such experience does have a grave impact on the survivors, she said, “To the degree the prison experience is traumatic, it also eats away at one’s soul. It fosters forgetfulness and renders ex-detainees incapable of recalling certain prison experiences.” (Abdo)

It also should not surprise anyone that women are in particular vulnerable position during the occupation. According to Huriani, a Palestinian college student and activist in Yatta in an interview conducted this year in September, women and children are susceptible to the violence of Israeli settlers because they are left at home due to gendered division of labor in the occupied West Bank.

And there is much more to the stories of Palestinian women, living in atrocious conditions. However, I do want to emphasize that they are much more than just victims of violence forced upon them, as examples mentioned above. I want to urge everyone to keep educating yourselves on subjects related to Palestine and Palestinian people. As someone who unfortunately has to deal with state-sponsored propaganda from my own country and biased news against it here almost on a daily basis, I learned that knowledge is the only tool to make sure that we will not be deceived by misinformation and disinformation, biases and prejudice, reductive views and dehumanization of the oppressed. I am assuming that you do care about what is going on in Palestine now, and so even though I know that it can be a very complicated topic all things considered, now is the time to learn more and engage in critical thinking.

Being informed is the least we can do in a difficult time as such. I know very well how hard it is to watch all sorts of atrocities unfold on screen, especially when most of the news are painfully biased, and they unfortunately are the main channel we can obtain any information about what’s going on. Now is a difficult time for Palestinian people and the ones who support them. Every time I open the news, its blatant biases remind me of the fact that colonization still finds its way in the modern days. Patriarchy manifests itself in the form of violence and aggression, and women are usually disproportionally the victim of them. However, as Shatha Odeh, director of Health Work Committees (HWC) who was released from Israeli prison last year, said, “I’m a human rights fighter. If we lose hope, nothing will change.”

We need to recoganize both Palestinians’ struggles and their resistance efforts. Nobody’s free until everybody’s free, said Fannie Lou Hammer. We want freedom for all Palestinians under occupation, that includes all women, all children, all queer people, and more.

“The Palestinian cause is not a cause for Palestinians only, but a cause for every revolutionary, wherever he is, as a cause of the exploited and opposites see in our era.” As a Chinese feminist, I see the collective struggle that we are all fighting, against authoritarianism, against patriarchy. Please remember and believe that we will be fighting alongside each other in this journey. We should never despair.

With that, thank you for listening.

Palestine will be free.

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