Naming and Confronting Hate: The Role of Rhetoric in Fueling Anti-Palestinian Violence and the Israel War on Gaza

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Hisham Awartani’s family believed he would be safer in the United States amidst the escalating violence in the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank. Instead of spending Thanksgiving break in the West Bank, the 20-year-old Palestinian student chose to visit relatives in Vermont. However, tragedy struck as Awartani and his friends were shot just blocks away from his uncle Rich Price’s home in Burlington.

Awartani, now paralyzed from the chest down, is working hard on his rehabilitation and has returned to Brown University. The violent attack not only changed his life but also highlighted the fear and hateful rhetoric faced by Palestinians and their supporters in the US since Israel’s military offensive in Gaza. Price believes that the dehumanization of Palestinians in the US played a significant role in the shooting.

Hearts with a message of ‘Neighbors Stand Against Hate’ now adorn Price’s front door, as he emphasizes the need for a more balanced and empathetic portrayal of the Palestinian struggle in the country. The dangerous rhetoric that portrays the conflict as a battle between good and evil only serves to fuel violence and division.

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