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The string that ties us together

A call for community

Let’s start with some definitions.

Zionism: Zionism is a religious and political effort that brought thousands of Jews from around the world back to their ancient homeland in the Middle East and reestablished Israel as the central location for Jewish identity. It is a colonial movement supporting the establishment, by any means necessary, of a national state for Jews in historic Palestine.

Antisemitism: A certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.

Islamophobia: A fear, prejudice and hatred of Muslims or non-Muslim individuals leading to provocation, hostility and intolerance by means of threatening, harassment, abuse, incitement and intimidation. Motivated by institutional, ideological, political and religious hostility transcending into structural and cultural racism.

Xenophobia: Fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign.

If you happen to see yourself in any of the definitions above, you might want to skip over this piece because you may not appreciate this immigrant girl’s opinion.

The bottom line

The simple fact is, whether we like it or not, we are a community. We are all connected as a community of students, as individuals at Dalhousie University and University of King’s College and as people living in Kjipuktuk, colonially known as Halifax.

We are connected. Not because we’re all so interested in each others’ lives but because we’re all humans, existing within the same geographical bounds.

Whether we like it or not, it is one of our integral human responsibilities to look after one another.

This is especially true within the student community. If it’s not us looking after each other then who?

Hate to break it to anyone who hasn’t caught up yet, but I can tell you right now it won’t be President Kim Brooks or any admin at Dal or at King’s. Don’t believe me? I invite you to open your inbox and read the memo from the president’s office sent on Oct. 17.

I’ve read it over and over again. I’ve probably spent more time reading it than the amount of time it took to write that email. Or any email sent by Dal/King’s admin at any point in time regarding any international conflict, for that matter.

While it can be argued there is not a singular line that would ease anyone’s pain or grief during this time of international trauma and suffering, that email did make one thing abundantly clear: We have to be the ones who look out for each other because no one else is (or will be) stepping up to do so soon.

How to stand for community?

If you have the tendency to read the news, get overwhelmed and log off to never think about the situation again, I invite you to check your privilege.

There seems to be a frightening number of people claiming they are uncomfortable discussing international conflict because they don’t feel educated enough to comment.

With all due respect, if you were born in Canada, and are university age, you’ve had more than enough time to do a Google search. If you’ve lived in a country with the right to free and uncensored information your whole life, you are making an active choice to stay uneducated on certain topics.

Actually, if you’ve lived in this country for over six months, the same applies to you.

Education and access to information are basic rights that are taken for granted by so many. Coming from a country where the president could block X, the artist formerly known as Twitter, because people were mobilizing, or Facebook, because someone was criticizing the government, or Wikipedia, because someone wrote something he didn’t like, simply baffles me.

Choosing to stay in blissful ignorance keeps the people in power unaccountable. It lets them do whatever their heart desires, like this speech at the legislature from our dear own Tim Houston. In his remarks, Houston waters down the conflict to a “war on terror” and refuses the call for ceasefire, but also turns people into complicit bystanders.

I’ll be the first to tell you, I’ve lived through enough coups and conflicts within my own country and the general geopolitical area to confidently say silence is only profitable to the oppressor—whether they are a singular person, a terrorist group or a whole government.

And please, if you’ll retain anything from this piece, let it be that it’s not any minority group’s responsibility to educate you. Understand, this is a heavy ask regarding emotional labour and mental bandwidth, especially in a time of immense grief and pain among other things.

Do your homework. Then help others with theirs.

So like, what’s the point of me writing this?

To work through my own pain and grief. To help ease my anger and frustration. To put into words how I’ve been feeling as I was going to school and work with the knowledge that my friends are receiving literal death threats, and no one seems to care.

This is an opinion piece, I’m not here to guilt trip anyone or tell them what to do and I’m definitely not here to tell you what to believe.

This might be a last call for community, in a time where people are receiving death threats because of their beliefs, and landlords are stabbing children because of their nationality.

With both antisemitism and islamophobia on the rise, we should all be able to agree that calling innocent civilian deaths casualties, striking ambulances while hospitals are overflowing and sending only 20 trucks full of aid to an active war zone are all crimes on a humanitarian level.

I’m not here to tell you what to do or believe, but here are some petitions you can skim over if you feel inclined to do so.

Call for immediate ceasefire

Send a letter to your MP

Petition, end the siege on Gaza  

Reach out to US representatives

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