When It Comes To Raising Awareness About The Genocide In Palestine, The Kids Are Alright

There's nothing wrong about being anti-genocide, bestie.

When the people in power turn a blind eye, it’s the youth who step in to remind the world what the right thing to do is.

Related: This Isn’t The Time To Play Cute, Especially If You Have A Platform To Speak Up

Unless you’ve been off the grid for the past eight months, or are purposely ignorant, then you’ve heard about the ongoing genocide in Palestine. Since October 2023, more than 36,000 Palestinians have been reportedly killed in Israel’s offensive, according to Gazan officials. Israel’s retaliation against Hamas has turned into a full-blown humanitarian crisis that has affected millions of Palestinians. 

The death and destruction in Palestine have spurred millions to embark on a social movement that not only donates humanitarian aid to Palestine but also voices out their opposition to the genocide and calls for an immediate and permanent ceasefire. And leading the way are millions of young people heading to the virtual and physical streets in an admirable display of courage, conviction, and bravery. 


When the powers at be are slow to move or are complicit in the violence, it is the youth who speak up to put on the pressure to make change. It’s this spirit of change that can be found in people like Eliana Atienza, a sophomore student at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) and the daughter of TV host and weatherman Kim Atienza. Over the past few weeks, thousands of students across the US have set up encampments in colleges and universities to show solidarity with the Palestinian people as well as push school leaders to divest from companies with economic ties to or investments in Israel. 

Eliana was one such student as she participated at UPenn’s pro-Palestine encampment. “Growing up, my mom, my dad, my lolo, my lola (grandfather and grandmother), taught me to speak out for what’s right, be kind to one another, and have integrity. And I hope I make them proud by being in the streets and marching and chanting and calling for a free Palestine because the death and destruction in Gaza is unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” she told Rappler in an interview on where her activism comes from. 

But for her actions, she, along with five other students, was put on “disciplinary probation” until next year, causing her to lose access to her dorm. News of the development caused Eliana to be harassed on social media, which frankly is disgusting considering she stood up for a just cause and has the full support of her family. What Eliana, and thousands like her, have done is just a small slice of the ways people, especially the youth, have been putting the spotlight on the atrocities occurring in Palestine. 


Despite how much damage has been done in Palestine, it continues to get worse on the ground. You’ve probably heard about Rafah either on the news or on social media recently. But in case you aren’t familiar, it is a city in Palestine that has declared safe zones in it, meaning it has areas that are not to be attacked as they house displaced civilians and refugees escaping the attacks. Yet, an Israeli airstrike struck a tent camp that housed displaced Palestinians in Rafah and started a fire that killed dozens of civilians. This is despite the fact that the top UN court recently ruled Israel to stop its offensive in Rafah. 

It is because of this attack, and many more just like it, that spurred the phrase “All Eyes On Rafah” to be shared across social media. With Rafah as one of the last few safe zones in Palestine, “All Eyes On Rafah” is meant to remind people of these atrocities in a time when trend cycles make news come and go in a blink of an eye, Israel’s role in all of this, and even the complicity of other countries that led to the scenario Palestine is in. More importantly, this is not and should never be just a trend. 

Innocent people are dying and millions more are displaced and struggling to access basic necessities. You don’t even have to look far to see how it’s affecting people with a handful of Palestinian families who are living as refugees in the Philippines. Activism has never been cute, but that’s the point. And for generations, the youth have always been at the forefront of fighting the good fight. Whether it be the student movement against the Vietnam War in the ’60s and ’70s, student leaders resisting the Marcos Sr. dictatorship, to today’s generation showing their solidarity with the Palestinian people and holding Israel accountable for their actions, young people will always show up for what’s right and speak up for those who don’t have a voice. 

Never underestimate the power of Gen Z as the generation of change. Even simple tasks such as staying informed and sharing news on what’s going on in Palestine or supporting international and local efforts to send relief aid to Palestinians is a step to doing your part to bring about change. Rather than sharing an AI image that doesn’t reflect the reality on the ground, share useful infographics. So bestie, don’t let the anonymous trolls on social media gaslight you into staying neutral or thinking what you’re doing is wrong. At the end of the day, there’s nothing shameful about being anti-genocide and staying on the right side of history.

Continue Reading: Isa Briones On Family, Activism, Musical Theater, And Finding Hope In Hadestown