The past few weeks have been…well, to say that the ongoing genocide in Palestine isn’t affecting me would be a complete lie. I wish I wasn’t so sensitive to these things, but as it happens I think I might need to step away from the internet for a while and disappear into fictional places. I understand that’s a very privileged thing to say, but I am well aware that the fact that I can write these words down without fearing for my life, in the comfort and the safety of a house that is not under the threat of being bombed, that in and of itself is a great luxury.
And it’s strange to think, that had not been luck in my favor, had I been born in a different zipcode, I would not have this simple sweet luxury of being able to exist.
In fact, we don’t have to go even that far. There’s a reason why the atrocities being committed in Palestine, why the news of any oppressed people in any part of the world hurts deeply in my soul.
Just 52 years ago, my country, Bangladesh, barely survived a genocide before securing her independence.
It’s only been 52 years since my country began to exist. Let that sink in for a moment. 52 years of independence means most Bangladeshis my age have parents and grandparents who remember the violence and ethnic cleansing that happened during the 1971 Liberation War.
I remember how my grandmother’s eyes watered as she recalled how she had escaped her home in the dark of the night with nothing but a few sets of clothes, 6 young children in tow, and a pair of gold bangles on her wrists. That was all they had.
I remember how when I was a little girl and would complain about being forced to eat eggs for breakfast, my father would remind me how during the Liberation War he had to share one egg among six children, and how that would sometimes be the only meal they had the whole day.
So strange and humbling to think that it was just mere luck that my father and his family were not one of the thousands who were massacred in their beds on the night of 25th March. Even our independence came at a steep price, and not just one that was paid by blood–there are speculations and controversies that a lot of under-the-table deals had to happen before we could secure the support of our allies during 1971, which ultimately turned the tide and allowed us to live as Bangladeshis to this day.
And as someone on Threads pointed out so acutely, when Bangladesh finally won her independence and called all the other countries to recognize her as a sovereign state, the very first country to recognize her was none other than Israel.
But Bangladesh did not accept Israel’s recognition. In an official declaration, Bangladesh stated “We do not accept the recognition of Israel. We do not recognize Israel until there is an independent Palestine.“
Is it really surprising then, given my country’s history and the history of my family, that I would mirror the same sentiments? How can one condemn the Holocaust and not speak a word about the Nakba of 1948 or the 75 years of violence that followed?
How can one say “Never Again” for a people and not echo that same sentiment for others?
The right to live is not mutually exclusive. And while I cannot and will not argue against the need for the existence of a Jewish state, I will also never accept the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people–a people so deprived they do not even have a proper militia that they rely on guerilla warfare–for the survival of a people who are part of one of the wealthiest countries in the world.
Again, I repeat, the right to live is not mutually exclusive.