Eyes Are Not Enough

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The graphically gruesome decree of Israel against the Palestinians to evanesce has somehow, inadvertently roped in every and each individual into the global court of law. It is neither the International Court of Justice (ICJ) nor the International Criminal Court (ICC), but a universal platform of those daring to petition Israel and its facilitators to conform to the laws of rectitude.

They are individuals existing in real time, challenging the indefensible Israeli claims to ‘self defence’ against a race anthropologically embedded in a land sanctified by their religion as much as Judaism. There are no frills or diplomatically generic expressions of appeasement to maintain a balance between the aggressor and the victimised subjects of bare faced genocide.

These real time individuals, sustaining government pressure and state savagery, have clearly defined their ideological, humanitarian and political ethos.There is no ambivalence, no fear of getting their academic degrees revoked or deported for supporting Palestine. Nor are they willing to entertain the absurdity of being classified as Hamas apologists. They stand in clear sight not to be seen as commercially saleable products but as participants of the universal platform of justice to demand sanctions against Israel.

Wearing keffiyehs or any symbol associating them with Palestine they fear not the loss of millions of dollars, as many do to keep the dividends pouring in for raising Israel’s ‘self defence’ banner. For they are not social media created fashionable memes, unlike the anodyne celebrities smiling here and waving there, stuttering inanities to circumvent an unequivocal stance on Palestine.

And then comes “All Eyes on Rafah”, an image of neatly lined tents in Rafah, a city in the south of Gaza, created through Artificial Intelligence (AI) by someone in Malaysia. Despite the eight months long genocide of the Palestinians, no story written or posted on the social media platforms has come close to the engagement of followers generated by the “All Eyes on Rafah” image.

First appearing on social media on May 28, 2024, the sharing of the post on Instagram alone has crossed the figure of 47 million. The two US born sisters, rated top models worldwide in the fashion industry, Gigi and Bella Hadid descending from Palestinian patrilineage, have not only shared the “All Eyes on Rafah” image on their Instagram accounts, they have also donated $1 million of their earnings to the relief efforts in Palestine.

In a recent podcast interview on Rep, Bella Hadid confirmed, “… .her support for Palestine saw her labelled a “terrorist” at school, and has cost her career opportunities and relationships with friends.”

Her resolve as well as her sister’s, Gigi Hadid, remains unflinching. Not even when the New York Times violated the journalistic code in May 2023, by running a paid advert to associate the two sisters with terrorism for supporting Palestine.

Their support of Palestine precedes the viral image of “All Eyes on Rafah”, a protestation difficult to presume when affirmed by equally celebrated, if not more honorifically titled persons. Writing about laurels and honours, it will be criminal not to include Ms Malala Yousufzai, the Nobel laureate from Pakistan, for cleverly evading directly censuring Israel.

How can she? Not when sitting with Ms Hillary Clinton, the former US secretary of state, whose fierce defence of Israel’s unilateral war on Palestine is embarrassingly at odds with some left wing Democrats. Undeterred, Ms Clinton is openly critical of the April 2024, pro-Palestinian student-led protests at Columbia University, where she teaches public affairs, resolutely declaring that the students are ‘misinformed by propaganda on social media and in the classroom’.

Equally unaffected by Ms Clinton’s pro-Israel disposition is Ms Yousufzai with whom she co-produced, Suffs, a musical on women’s suffrage premiering on Broadway in New York on April 18, 2024. The musical is written by Shaina Taub, a Jewish American actress, singer and composer.

Far from outrightly condemning Israel, an unlikely initiative considering her collaboration with one of its staunchest supporters, Ms Yousufzai followed a safe route of concentrating on defending the Palestinian children’s right to education. That was, indeed, safe and well rehearsed. Nonetheless, her visibility of standing with the aggressor’s side on the universal platform of justice did not go unnoticed.

Had her media handlers not devised a circumstantially inadequate ruse of offering scholarships for the Palestinian students through the Malala Fund, sharing the “All Eyes on Rafah” post on her Instagram account would have provided her the much needed easement. According to a rough estimate, 90 per cent schools run by the Palestinian Authority stand damaged and 29 per cent are totally demolished by the Israeli bombardment. Furthermore, a report by the Palestinian news agency, Wafa, affirms the complete destruction of 12 institutions of higher education.

To whom will the Malala Fund award scholarships when the prospective awardees’ bodies are an unrecognisable mass melding with the debris? Has there been a demand for unconditional ceasefire? No! Have Ms Yousufzai and others, save for a few, called for sanctions against Israel? No! Have they called out to halt the supply of arms to Israel? No!

Latest reports reveal that in the last 24 hours more than a million Palestinians have fled Rafah, evidently to another unsafe place, awaiting for the “Eyes” to correspond with action. Can anyone vouch for “All Eyes on Rafah” will lead to life and a land once called home?

 

All Eyes on Rafah

We bow in gratitude for thy gaze is on us,

Your gaze yields attention,

Our death is but a tally,

Your bodies tread your countries,

Our corpses stench the earth,

Your topography is a venerable site,

Our chorography is a Biblical plight,

We bow in gratitude for thy gaze is on us,

Can the gaze occlude the impending zeal?

The joy of the powerful to scythe us to cease?

We remain head-bent for the gaze to seal,

The bits of our bodies for the world to see,

The few who breathe and struggle to speak,

Have borrowed a moment from death to concede,

Your gaze is not enough for the formidable to heed

(By Shehar)

 

Shehar Bano Khan
Shehar Bano Khan
The writer is a senior journalist and writer who formerly worked for Friday Times, Frontier Post and the Dawn. She is currently associated with The Scoop as Consulting Editor.

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