Here’s the thing:

If you aren’t Palestinian, or directly following Palestinians’ personal social accounts, you probably haven’t heard about the latest massacres in Gaza: the school bombed last night in Khan Younis where the children were playing football (what US calls ‘soccer’) in the yard of a United Nations school where families were sheltering after losing their homes and being forced to evacuate.

You probably didn’t hear about the one a few days ago either, in another school in al-Nusseirat camp, where 16 kids were dismembered by Israeli bombs dropped on the crowded refugee center. Or the hospitals that are shut down, bodies rotting in the street, children that are dying of starvation, you probably haven’t seen the videos of the few Palestinian hostages that have been released (there are more than 8,000 still in Israeli prison camps in the brutally hot Negev desert) – starved, emaciated, hands curled, eyes wide with terror, unable to speak or form sentences.

You probably heard about the Russian forces bombing a children’s hospital in Kiev (which was horrific) yesterday, but maybe didn’t see the Israeli bombardment and invasion of 35 of the 38 hospitals in Gaza – including the complete destruction of the largest hospital — Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, where the Israeli troops kept patients and doctors hostage for two weeks in a room turned into a mass prison cell, then took people out of the room one by one and summarily executed them, throwing their bodies in pits and burying some alive with plastic handcuffs on their wrists.

You probably heard something in the news a few weeks ago (June 10) about a ‘hostage rescue’ operation in which Israeli ground forces invaded al-Nusseirat camp in central Gaza to grab 4 Israelis who had been held hostage. But to get them, the troops (including active duty US military troops who participated in the ‘operation’) bombed and shelled their way through the crowded camp, killing 274 Palestinians, including 64 children, 57 women and 37 elderly and two Israeli hostages, in order to free four Israelis.

Whose life is worth more?

And why?

This is not a rhetorical question. If you have been following this issue at all, you know that from day one the Palestinian side has been willing to negotiate the peaceful transfer of hostages, but every time a deal got close it was sabotaged by the Israeli leadership – this sabotage included, on two occasions, bombing and killing the family members (children, grandchildren, siblings) of Palestinian leader Ismail Haniyeh while he was in Doha negotiating a release deal.

If you are Palestinian, you are seeing this horror every day. You are seeing the man running with the corpse of his son under his arm, the mother wailing over the dead body of her baby. You know exactly the video I’m referring to when I talk about the dad with his 3 year old daughter who has made the sounds of the bombs into a game, that when they hear the sound, they laugh together – because what else can you do, with your child reacting in fear every five or ten minutes for the past nine months, but try to regulate your own fear and show your child that “See, Baba’s ok, we are ok” and try to calm her fear by calming your own.

If you are Palestinian, you know Reem and Hind and Refaat al-Areer, and you know not just his words but his story. And you know how the Israeli forces have systematically targeted his family and his friends and his friends’ families, after he became a symbol of academic freedom and poetic resistance after his death. You know that his best friend, who had spent the last nine months doing humanitarian work (because what else can you do as an academic when all the universities have been bombed), was just killed last week along with his entire family.

And you’ve watched and listened to the Al Jazeera documentary about little Hind, and heard the anguished voices of the rescue workers on the phone with her for the last three hours of her little life, as she crouched in a car surrounded by the dead bodies of her family, as the Red Crescent medical workers tried to negotiate with the Israeli military authorities to allow an ambulance to reach her. You heard the little voice of Hind telling the rescue workers that yes, she heard a bomb just now near her, and you heard the rescue workers – who knew that her ‘yes’ meant that the Israelis had just killed their colleagues in the ambulance who were trying to reach Hind – you heard those rescue workers hold back their sobs and remain calm and reassuring to the little girl on the phone who they knew was about to die.

And if you are Palestinian, anywhere in the world, you can’t help but wonder, if this is all happening in front of us, if everyone is watching this genocide unfolding in real time on the little screens in our hand, if people are seeing this, how can the world let this happen??

But the truth is, and it pains me to say this, most people have stopped watching. They are ‘taking social media breaks for mental health’, they are taking vacations and listening to music and engaging in self-care, or just trying to survive the daily grind of the capitalist system that keeps us working and working until we fall down dead tired and wake to another day of drudgery.

The world has stopped focusing on Palestine. And Israel is taking the opportunity to double down on the destruction and wanton killing of innocent people all over the Gaza Strip.

I don’t know what to do at this point. I have protested, called, shouted, written, petitioned, testified, challenged, boycotted, divested, posted, shared, donated, camped out, sat in, lay down, marched and chanted and cried and cried and cried and cried. And I know that so many of you have too. And our tears form a river, and join with all the tears of all the people of conscience of this world, and our tears are flowing and flowing from the river to the sea – and we will keep crying rivers into seas of grief and pain until the seas rise up in hurricanes of anger and exhort the placid people who are apathetic or, even worse, benefiting from this oppressive, violent system to wake up. Our tears, turned into rivers, flowing into the sea, will rise up into a mighty storm and the hard rain will fall on the blank faces until they wake up! Because we need Palestine to be free.

Freeing Palestine is the key (the miftah) to freeing the world.

Please. Do something.

Look around at your sphere of influence. Where is the point of discomfort where power connects with personal connects with political? That is the place where you have influence – even if it feels scary – even if it means you might lose something that seems important right now. Because nothing is more important right now than doing whatever it takes to free Palestine.