truancy writing | kate davis jones

the war on gaza

A few months ago, I was thumbing through my old journals from my first year of college. In April 2010, when I had just turned 18, I apparently attended a lecture on the “Arab-Israeli conflict” (my words) given by an anti-Zionist Jewish woman whose name I apparently did not feel the need to record. I expect this was an extra credit opportunity for my Arabic 102 class (a language study I dropped at the 203 level when I was faced with the difference between Lebanese and Egyptian dialects). I only wrote a few sentences about the lecture. I was intimidated by the scope of the lecture, and I was suddenly insecure and ashamed of my lack of knowledge. “I support Palestine,” I wrote, “I think.”

In the years after, I learned a lot more. I learned mostly from Palestinian-Americans I met through organizing, and anti-Zionist Jewish friends in the same circles. Since then, the call for a free Palestine has been woven into most of the activism I’ve done since. It’s nearly habitual, a sign I’d carry if I didn’t know what to write, because it was always worth saying. The little note I left in my journal stood out to me. “I think.” There was so much power in the ambient propaganda. When I was younger, I struggled to imagine that perhaps the reality of Palestinian oppression was not as complicated as I’d thought.

I considered a lot of different angles for writing this. I considered not writing it at all. What’s one more small voice in the noisy online, and what do I have to say worth saying at all? There’s better things I can do. But I thought about this today.

In 2020, activists in the US streets learned how to mitigate tear gas with umbrellas and traffic cones from Hong Kongers. The images of protesters deploying the same tactics became a symbol of global solidarity.

At a protest in my city, I saw someone pick up a tear gas canister in an oven mitt, fit it into a sling, and hurl it far from the targeted protesters. I asked him where he learned the tactic. “On Twitter,” he said. “From Palestine.”