What Does Normal Mean for Palestinians?

When did it become so normal to turn our eyes from the suffering of Palestinians? When did the world normalize this violence? Why has it become so normalized - when it never should be?

Palestinians endure daily violence under settler colonial occupation, and face a harsh reality and their experience of the violent mundane are normalized across the world to the point that people are desensitized. Not only that, but Palestinians are forced to normalize the violence of their daily lives under a vicious occupation because they need to survive it. In the ways Palestinians make money, move around, go to school, marry, and the list goes on--in all these ways, Palestinian life is violently disrupted but they have to function within the structures of occupation, which are inherently violent. And somehow this normal has become what’s accepted. But it’s not normal at all.

This normalization is the product of decades of settler colonial violence and narratives. The settler depends on this normalcy to maintain domination. This normalization of Palestinian suffering lets international audiences become numb to it, to not feel the urgency of calling it out or demanding that this violence must stop. And that’s because this normalcy paints Palestinian suffering as commonplace — something that just is. We have seen this pattern for decades, and we’re very clearly seeing it today.

Our artisans at Handmade Palestine experience the effects of this every day, and it has only intensified. One of our artisans with Bint el Shams told us how the occupying military raided the camp she lives in (a nightly experience of terror), and while her her 14 year old neighbor was peeking out his window to see what was happening, the Israelis shot him in his head. His mother held him screaming for 15 minutes until the military left and an ambulance to come to her. She told us that this is a normal day in Palestine. IT SHOULD NOT BE NORMAL. She said she feels that we are returning to 1948 again — to the time of the Nakba, a desperate and vicious moment of Israeli ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinian population and lands. 

Since October 7, we have all witnessed incomprehensible violence against Palestinians. And this is just the most recent of decades-long violence that Palestinians have faced from the hands, tanks and warplanes of the Israelis. This endurance and long history of violence means that Palestinians have had to create new normals for every day life. But they shouldn’t have to.

What do you think will happen to a society living under 21st century violent settler colonialism? How do you think our children experience their childhood? How do you claim space as a mother or an entrepeneur or a farmer or an artisan?

How can you create art when every night you’re woken up by armored jeeps? How do you work with artisans when you have to cross three checkpoints in each direction? How do you stitch and sew when your children are home three out of five days from school because of general strikes and closures? How do you sell your crafts when your borders are controlled? How do you share the story of a maker when your content is shadow banned? How do you live under 21st century settler colonialism, much less create and craft?

How can this be normal? How can so many people across the world see this as normal and turn their heads? This normalization of violence that Palestinians are subjected to leads to their dehumanization, to the world becoming numb to the genocide of the Palestinian people, to seeing violent aggressions toward Palestinians as just another day. This has given way to the rejection of Palestinians for over 75 years.

This fatal normalization has paved the way to the dangerous rhetoric that rejects calls for ceasefire, for the end to settler violence and the occupation. This has forced millions of Palestinians to create lives around this violence, when in reality it is a true shame for humanity to allow Palestinians to continue living under this 21st century settler colonialism.

But to break out of this normalcy means fighting for the liberation of Palestine, for the humanity, dignity, strength, and beauty of the Palestinian people. To reject and call out narratives that tell you it’s okay to turn your head and look away. This violence thrives in the silence of others. It feeds off your willingness to see this as normal. And it only becomes more vicious the longer you ignore it.

So reject the normalcy of Palestinian suffering. Realize and act upon the urgency of this call. Fight for a reality where Palestinian liberation — and joy — is the norm.

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