"It's So Complicated"

I wrote the following letter to a couple of close friends who have been relying on the NYT for news about Palestine. These friends are intelligent, educated, and loving people who kept referring to “the war” and centering H@mas and Judaism. They also kept saying how awful things are and that they couldn’t understand why it wasn’t ending.

I am sharing this letter because I thought it might help others who themselves are in the same confused state or who have friends they cannot seem to get through to. 

Personally, I had an incredible amount of learning to do — and no, despite what bots and bullies have accused online, it was not only through TikTok. I feel that because I am unbiased as far as not having any ties to the region or religions and having essentially been a blank slate on October 8, my realizations and the process of my learning might speak to others who similarly have not known what has been going on for decades. I am also against all hate; I believe in the human rights of all people regardless of ethnicity or religion.

I include several links for you to do your own reading and research. If all you’ve done is take in mainstream news, know that the confusion you feel is by design so that you will stay uninformed and uninvolved. In fact, we are not as powerless as the powers that be want us to feel.

A disclaimer: I can only speak as a layperson. I am not in politics, I am not a historian, I am not anything, really, beyond a human being that cannot sit idly by as one million children are suffering. I am sure I have an imperfect and incomplete understanding so I encourage everyone to do their own research.

  • Seek Israeli and Palestinian scholars and historians who have been writing on the issue from long ago.
  • Question the sources you’ve always relied on.
  • Use your own critical thinking skills.

The thing I notice is how confused so many people say they are. Think about what you would do if something, anything, you had to figure out confused you. A math problem, the definition of a word you’ve never heard of, how to soothe your newborn. You would probably troubleshoot that confusion, find your way to clarity. You wouldn’t just throw your hands up in the air saying it was “too complicated” for you, right? You know you’re smarter than that. Why should it be any different when it comes to understanding Palestine? 

Hi guys,

I don’t even know where to start. I’m going to try to share as much as I can from everything I have learned. If you check IG, you might have seen some of the stuff I write about. Also, my podcast has been featuring people who are “for Palestinian liberation” which is synonymous with being “for collective liberation” which is rooted in dismantling white supremacy (WS). That throughway WS —> liberation —> Palestine is a shorthand explanation of why I am invested in this “cause” — which really isn’t a cause so much as simply being on the right side of history. This will all be revealed more and more in time, which we are already seeing as the last 5+ months have passed. It’s the same thing that always happens when there is war, genocide, etc… the powers that be (governments and news and corporations) do everything they can to keep us the people ignorant of the truth, and then, way later, as all the information comes out, everyone is horrified and on the right side of history (see: Holocaust). 

I was actually so distraught after our texts on Thursday when you called it a “war” that I wrote a post about it. In my caption, I was primarily referring to you but actually this is not just you. It is true of so many of my friends. The TLDR of the post is basically that we cannot rely on any of these mainstream news sources, period. They have consistently spread lies. Not just since 10/7 but FOR ALWAYS. Remember the “weapons of mass destruction?” Where were they? Oh yeah — it was a total lie.

One of my podcast episodes that I would also really recommend is the 2-part episode with Asma. Asma is Palestinian and a therapist. She is super informed on the cause but she is also very steady and compassionate and lovely. I know you’re both busy but maybe while you are doing dishes or driving or out watching kids do their activities, you could listen.

There are so many things at play here that enable our government/news to make this seem complicated when it is not. As US Americans, we have been indoctrinated to think that America is the best, the land of opportunity, the land of the free, where everyone is equal, where we live in democracy. That’s why everyone is so desperate to immigrate here, right? But we are seeing right now that although the majority of Americans do not support genocide and we do not want $14.5 billion of our taxes going to military aid for Israel (meanwhile we are supposed to applaud when a relatively paltry $2.8 billion is granted by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to end homelessness, an epidemic here on our soil that needs up to $30 billion) (to say nothing of our healthcare and education systems), our government does not listen. So, is this really a democracy? Our politicians are heavily funded by AIPAC and celebrities and influencers are also paid to spread Z!ionist propaganda.

The first realization that woke me up was learning that Israel “was given" land from Palestine. But whose land was it to give?? The way that history frames it is that in 1948, Israel was given the land (“as a safe haven for Jews”... which, by the way, this concern for Jews is deeply mixed into all of the confusion, keeping us feeling like "oh, we’d better not get involved where Jewish “safety” is involved because I don’t want to seem antisemitic!" Of course Jews have the right to be safe! Not only in one specific state but everywhere in the world! Isn't it problematic to suggest they could only possibly be truly safe in one place??) by the British, who had been occupying Palestine at that time. When I learned about this occupation, I had a sudden realization that something was very wrong in what we had been told about Palestine. Because of what I knew about Japan having occupied Korea and what a brutal, deadly time that was for Koreans. Occupation —> colonization. When the indigenous population — be it Korean, Palestinian, or our Indigenous People here in the US — RESIST this colonization, there is often violence. It is considered — by international law — LEGAL and in the occupied people’s RIGHT, to RESIST OCCUPATION BY ARMED STRUGGLE. This is where the question of H@mas comes into play. The US has done a frankly brilliant job of depicting Arabs in general as “t3rrorists” (see: the rise of Islamaphobia after 9/11). We are conditioned to fear Arabs as wanting to destroy America for no apparent reason, and our government is the hero in protecting us.

There is SUCH a deep tie between what is happening in Palestine and what happened in Korea that ultimately left Korea divided and in a perpetual state of war. Korea was seen as a pivotal ally to the West bc it gives US a stronghold in Asia. Similarly, Israel — under the guise of being a safe haven for Jews — gives the US a stronghold in the Middle East. Israel is a settler colonial project, which is incidentally also how the US was founded. It’s the same thing that happened to Okinawa when it became colonized by Japan. Okinawa was its own society and culture, with its own language. Same thing as Chejudo in Korea too! I didn’t even know that piece until recently. Even from before Israel’s inception, the plan has been to colonize all of the land that is Palestine. There are many graphics that show the Israeli takeover of the land, leaving Palestine with just Gaza and the West Bank. It has been a slow and steady takeover of Palestine. And while Trump was president, Israel’s capital was moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which was already the capital of Palestine. There have been violent settlers in the West Bank since 1967…they literally just show up to a Palestinian home and kick them out, and take their home!! Israel controls (ie occupies) all of Palestine. In the West Bank, there are separate roads for Palestinians. Gaza has been under siege since 2007. Israel controls EVERYTHING in these areas, literally everything even including rainwater. Israel has been kidnapping, imprisoning without trial, torturing, etc etc etc Palestinians since 1948. I’m sure you are aware that in 1948, 750,000 Palestinians were displaced — FORCED out of their homes, in order to create Israel. 

Re 10/7 specifically, even the NYT reported that Israel knew the exact plans that would unfold that day from 1 year prior. Israel was also warned by Egypt 3 days prior to 10/7 that something was going to happen. Even the Times of Israel reported this! Israel is something like the size of New Jersey and yet, it somehow took 5-6 hours for the military to respond to the H@mas attack at the festival — why? And then all the systemically orchestrated lies about what actually happened, starting from the number of people killed (originally said to be 1500 but was corrected to 695, including, according to Israeli eyewitnesses, people who were killed by friendly fire (ie Israelis forces)). And I hope you know that the 40 beheaded babies claim was not substantiated — it was all to draw global support for what Israel was going to do in response, which has always been its plan: to ethnically cleanse the land of Palestinians so that they could steal all the land. It’s the same as how the US came to be. The groundwork of Islamaphobia and “t3rrorism” was laid long ago so it was easy to set this all up as a war against t3rror because of what H@mas did on 10/7 “completely out of nowhere to a perfectly peaceful Israel.” It is horrific that innocent Israeli civilians were killed and kidnapped. They deserved safety. As well it must be acknowledged that this did not start on 10/7. What has been happening to Palestinians since 1948?

The NYT story of systemic r@pe on 10/7 has also been debunked. It was written by a former I0F solider who had never in her life before written ONE journalist piece. Why / how did the NYT hire this person?! This Democracy Now video is a good one that breaks that down. It is not to say that the horrific crime of r@pe did not occur; the point is to question the dehumanizing narrative constructed by our government and media that Palestinians are barbaric and violent for no reason.

Consider, also, that 47% of the ~2.5 million population of Gaza is under 18yo. CHILDREN. Over 1 million Gazans are CHILDREN. How TF is this a “war” when nearly half of the population are children? And then how many of those are women? And how many are plain ole’ male civilians? And H@mas — I am against all violence but don’t we need to question why they exist? Is it really just because they are hateful? What about occupied people having the right to resist with military force and the fact that H@mas was established in 1987 after years of occupation, ethnic cleansing and dehumanization, and did not come into power until 2007 (ie way after 1948 when land was taken from Palestinians and even way after 1967 when Israel started illegally (according to many international bodies including the UN and the ICRC) occupying Palestine). H@mas as a military entity is arguably no match compared to Israel — one of the strongest militaries in the world backed by the strongest and richest military in the world. This is evidenced by the one-sided destruction and sheer number of casualties.

Beyond language, just LOOKING at what has happened to Gaza informs the unbiased person with common sense that the intention has been to raze it to the ground. 80% of civilian infrastructure has been destroyed. There are settlement plans going around as well, ie literal blueprints for how Israel is going to build their new settlements in Gaza. Settlers have already entered North Gaza and built two structures, as was reported by 972, a magazine that was founded in Tel Aviv. They have dropped massive bombs (including dumb bombs) and missiles all over Gaza — is this what a precise military attack looks like? Because when Israel wants to be precise, they totally can, as demonstrated by the targeted killing of H@mas operatives in Beirut.

Also what is very, very scary is the use of illegal weapons of war such as white phosphorus and thermobaric bombs (ie pressure bombs that cause lungs to rupture, which is why often these poor dead children just look like they’re sleeping ie not crushed in the rubble (although there are plenty of those bodies as well, crushed, blown to bits…it’s horrific)), and they have started using AI military in Gaza too. If you are not following Palestinian journalists on social, you will not come across the images that show CHILDREN being shot to death by snipers, being run over by tanks, mauled by Israeli military dogs… this is in addition to deaths and injuries due to their home and tents being bombed. Refugee camps being bombed!!! That’s war? I’m sure you’ve heard at this point that Gaza is being starved. Israeli CITIZENS have been at the border BLOCKING AID TRUCKS. Some food has been airdropped into parts of Gaza but this is just PR, not real aid as there are entry points for aid trucks which are able to bring in way more aid than a theatrical air drop. Babies and children in North Gaza are literally dying of starvation. The images look exactly like those of the Holocaust. This is systematic starvation. This is not war. This is genocide. 

The reason — beyond basic humanity, especially for any parent who must surely innately want to protect all children!! — that we all need to understand the truth of what is going on and care is that this genocide is fully made possible by the US and our tax dollars. And despite all the calls for ceasefire from its people (61% of US Americans want a permanent ceasefire), the US continues to be THE ONLY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD voting against a ceasefire. The UK is also complicit because it has cowardly abstained from voting. One can argue that all of this started with the British government in the early 1900s but the US enables it all to carry on, and there are SO MANY Z!onists here. Did you know that Christian Z!onists (“political Christians”) are the dominant Z!onist population?? There are more Christians Z!onists than total Jews in the US (that’s a post by a Jewish writer). This is not about religion; this is not about keeping Jews safe. This is about the US, via Israel and with UK tagging along, having a stronghold in the Middle East. And why do they want this? To keep the Arab countries divided and weaker, and to take all the resources ie oil and trade routes. I highly recommend this video about the canal project.

And by the way this is also not just about the 30,000+ Palestinians who have been killed. How many more maimed? Even CNN reports that more than 10 children A DAY in Gaza are losing limbs. Do you know they’re being amputated WITH NO ANESTHESIA because Israel has blocked all medicine from entering? Women having c-sections with no anesthesia? There are 50k pregnant women in Gaza. They’re having to give birth in tents, no medical care, no baby formula because Israel is specifically blocking maternity packages. This is a “war on t3rror”? 

My understanding is a result from an amalgamation of reading books, watching documentaries, following Israeli historians, anti-Z!onist Jews, Jews that were Z!onist but became anti-Z!onist, and of course — Palestinians. There is something in my bones as a Korean (from being occupied, from being pulled into a war by the US, from being left perpetually at war in our own country with North v South) and as a US American (on land stolen from the Indigenous) that deeply opened my eyes to what is really happening. As well, my interrogation of white supremacy and racism over the last few years has informed my understanding of what is happening in Palestine. But I struggled to talk about it at first because I don’t have personal ties to the region, because I had confusing conversations with Jewish / Z!onist friends, and I think the most potent part of it all — because I’ve been indoctrinated by my US government and education to believe things that are categorically false. Thanksgiving is a really good example of this!!! We were sold this bullsh*t narrative that it’s to honor when the Pilgrims and Indians broke bread together and lived happily every after, yay! No! 90% of the indigenous people died when the European settlers arrived. 55 million people. It was due to a combination of intentional killing and disease, but the motive of the European settlers (who of course became the first US Americans) was clear — it was the genocide of the indigenous population. Those that survived have been pushed to the borders of the country, onto “Indian reservations.” It’s the same as what’s happening to Palestine. It’s known as the colonial handbook.

This is all rooted in white supremacy. White / western countries looking to rule the world. Dehumanizing black and brown (all BIPOC) people in the process. Think of all the other places with humanitarian crises: Sudan, Congo, Syria, Yemen… it’s all POC whose conditions of living have been made horrible by western countries who are stealing resources (you know about cobalt mining in Congo, right? See this important visual). I find this pyramid of white supremacy to be quite compelling. And this is how you can hopefully see how everything is connected, and people being kept ignorant of the truth, and upholding white supremacy (ie by buying into the model minority myth like Asians who don’t get involved in social justice / racism issues because they feel “safe” compared to black and brown people), and STAYING SILENT DURING GENOCIDE… all of this is what enables what is happening. The news sources are all part of the machine, too.

We will keep seeing this revealed more and more as time goes on because ultimately the truth will be revealed. In the same way that everyone looks back at the Holocaust and condemns it, so too will this ongoing genocide be condemned — but I don’t only want to be on the right side of history after the fact!!! I cannot stand by in willful ignorance and in my own privilege and comforts while babies are being killed. I hope you watch that Democracy Now video on the NYT — it will show you how manipulated everything is. It is insidious. Even in their word choice! It’s not a coincidence that they keep saying WAR, not genocide. It is truly maddening and we should all be pissed that we have been lied to, but at this point, 5+ month into a genocide, the responsibility is on us to find the truth because all this information is out there. 

Unfortunately, you are just not going to get this information from the news — however aggregated and neutral you think it is. You also cannot really understand the horrific war crimes happening without seeing the images yourselves, though I would hope that the fact of simply knowing that NEWBORN BABIES ARE DYING OF STARVATION — because their mothers are starving and cannot produce milk, there is no formula, there is no clean water… just knowing this one fact — among many — should be enough to get people to wake up. Another example: an American doctor returned from helping in Gaza and shared that there was one moment when several parents came in with their children aged 5-8 — all dead with one sniper bullet in their heads. That’s not an accidental, unfortunate casualty of war, is it?!!? And yes, there is so much documentation. 

Anyway, I hope this helps. Any questions — ask away. You want more resources — ask away. This is not a war. This is a premeditated genocide that has been in process since 1948; the land grab has been planned from the late 1800s. And to answer your question, the reason it is not stopping is because the goal is to rid the land of all Palestinians so Israeli settlers can move in. The US wants Israel to be in power in the Middle East because then the US, too, is in power. They’re going to kill as many Palestinians as they can get away with and push the rest out into the Sinai and elsewhere— forced displacement again, and there’s nothing in the Sinai! How will they survive? A few Gazans are able to evacuate (it’s $7k a person to evacuate to Egypt, but most Gazans are extremely poor) but why should they have to leave their land? Oh, and the point that “Jews are native to the land” — like sure, the Arab Jews were, but certainly not European Jews, right? This is why you cannot get a DNA test in Israel without a court order. Because the test might show you are not indigenous to that land but rather to like, Poland. There have always been Arab/Palestinian Jews, Christians (see Reverend Dr. Munther Isaac), and Muslims, though they have been described differently throughout history. Essentially, whoever has ancestral ties to the land, wouldn't they be like cousins, regardless of religious affiliation?

I think what helped me is that I was already following so many anti-oppression / anti-racist activists and all of them were instantly talking about Palestine. As well, all the revolutionaries and humanitarians and authors I have admired — all of these people have been talking about the liberation of Palestine for decades. 

And I haven’t even gotten to the Apartheid factor!! Israel will point out that Palestinians (though they live in Israel and work there, but they don’t have the same rights, they’re not allowed the same passports. Look at this visual about the identity problem there.

It’s so disheartening that so many people won’t engage in what is really happening and I am sure it is because most people just go to news sources, trusting that they will get neutral truths. I myself have hated and resented social media, and only returned to it a few years ago so I could share my writing… but I am now very grateful social media exists because Palestinians have been able to show us directly what is happening to them and it has revealed the lies we have been told by regular media. You of course still have to use discernment on social, which is why I also read historical texts that were written well before 2023, and when you come upon TRUTH, it all ties together, regardless of who is telling it, what religion they are, what their backgrounds are, etc. Truth is resonant. 

I am a mama, writer, yoga teacher, and mental health advocate.
More posts by Leah Kim.

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