AMP Condemns Media Complicity In Dehumanization And Misinformation Leading To Multiple Violent Attacks On Palestinian Americans
On Sunday, November 26, 2023, three Palestinian students of U.S. universities were shot and severely injured in what appears to be a hate crime in Burlington, Vermont. The three were on a walk after a birthday party, wearing Palestinian kuffiyehs and speaking Arabic. Amid blatantly dehumanizing language against Palestinians in the media and the malicious defamation of Palestinian student activists, we call on local police, universities, elected officials, and media to state clearly that this is an anti-Palestinian hate crime and to stop dehumanizing Palestinians both overseas and here in the United States.
Former classmates of the Quaker Friends School in Ramallah, the three students Kinnan Abdelhamid, Hisham Awartani, and Tahseen Ahmad are being treated at the University of Vermont Medical Center. One of them was shot in the neck and is in critical condition with likely spinal injuries and all three are reportedly in severe pain from multiple gunshot wounds.
Since the start of the bombardment of Gaza by Israel, officials and media have syndicated dehumanizing and sometimes false narratives surrounding the October 7th attacks. Likewise, the conflation of Palestine solidarity activism with anti-semitism, the vilification of pro-ceasefire protestors, and general ambivalence surrounding anti-Palestinian racism can be linked directly to attacks like this one. Violent attacks on Palestinians such as the murder of 6-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume in Illinois, attacks on AJP Action staff, and others seen as Palestinian and Muslim are growing nationwide. Meanwhile, coverage of the war suggests that the death of over 6,000 Palestinian children—among close to 15,000 civilians killed in Gaza—are excusable casualties of the US-backed aerial attacks by the Israeli military.
Those who have cast doubt on the necessity of a ceasefire can only do so while dismissing the deaths of Palestinian civilians, leaning on brutalistic depictions of Palestinian armed factions and unverified or false accounts from October 7th, alongside sanitized depictions of Israel’s assault on Gaza. To date, in addition to the over 14,800-person death toll on Israel’s hands; over 50% of homes in Gaza have been completely leveled, tens of thousands have been injured; over 2,000 civilians are estimated stuck under rubble; close to 800,000 people are internally displaced; and food, energy and hospital infrastructure has been destroyed amid a near total blockade of humanitarian aid for over a month. In this vein, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’s refusal to call for a ceasefire alongside his progressive colleagues (HR 786) makes him complicit in Palestinian dehumanization.
A man named Jason Eaton, 48, has been arrested by Burlington Police for the attempted murder of the three Palestinian-American students. He has pleaded “not guilty,” but reports also say he came out of his house with palms up as Burlington police arrived saying, “I have been waiting for you.” He was in possession of a .380 pistol which he reportedly purchased recently. Eaton’s mother said that he was in good health on Thanksgiving, and was a religious Christian. We do not yet know if he ascribes to Christian Zionism, a right-wing ideology that supports the state of Israel on the basis of Armageddonist biblical prophecy for the end of times. Genocidal rhetoric from such groups is common, as is association with white supremacy.
American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) condemns institutional complicity with rising anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim racism and Islamophobia. Influential Zionists, anti-Palestinian organizations like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the American-Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC), Christians United for Israel (CUFI) continue to disseminate misinformation and hateful rhetoric surrounding Palestinians and pro-peace solidarity activists who are critical of Israel’s violent assault on Gaza. University officials have repeatedly conflated the critique of Israel with anti-semitism, thereby harming free speech on campus and fueling anti-Palestinian hate and attacks on Palestine solidarity activists like these students. Meanwhile, officials have skirted around clear condemnations of anti-Palestinian racism and refused to protect Palestinian student activists from hateful smear campaigns, sometimes bolstered by faculty and staff.
Members of Congress and other elected officials are also complicit in attacks on students like this, introducing McCarthyist legislation, censuring Congress’s only Palestinian, and claiming there are “no innocent Palestinians.” AMP calls on officials to condemn hate crimes on the basis of Palestinian ancestry—not erasing the specific vulnerability of Palestinian students and Palestinian Christians by naming only “Arab” ancestry or Muslim background. We also call on officials to equally condemn the deaths or abuse of Palestinian children and other civilians, as they have done for Israeli women and children. Legislation like HR 3103 “Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families” and HR 786 calling for a ceasefire should be universally uncontroversial amid violence that many experts call a genocide. More Palestinian children have died in the past 51 days than the annual sum of child deaths across all global conflict zones in the past three years. Anything short of condemnation fuels hate towards Palestinians and those in solidarity.
Our prayers are with the injured students and their families as we affirm the rights of all Palestinians and Muslim Americans despite overwhelmingly dehumanizing rhetoric. We call on pro-peace solidarity activists to share our outcry against all hate crimes and to use their voices to speak out against campaigns to erase Palestinian humanity.
American Muslims for Palestine (AMP)