as the newest barrage of israeli bombs are dropped on gaza, many friends have texted or emailed me to see how i’m doing, to check on the status of my family, and generally lend their support for palestine and her people. those messages have warmed me and reminded me that people are watching and listening and holding gaza in their hearts. but at the same time, i’ve felt deep guilt, resentment, and futility watching this, the third attack on our land in 7 years. the fatalities are high, the carnage seemingly never ending. what should you do? what should i do, to stop this? to support Palestine? to make the lives of gaza matter? i compiled a short list of things we might do. the struggle for Palestinian liberation is a long one, and its strategies are not short term–a commitment to Palestine is broader than the current tragic moment, and requires a sustained and vested interest in the politics, place, and people. so here goes:
Whether it’s yourself or others, most folks are woefully misinformed about what happens in Occupied Palestine and Apartheid Israel. This is entirely intentional–history is written by victors, and Palestinians have been losing since 1948. Moreover, the US, Israel, and multiple other ideological groups and organizations have a vested interest in muddying the waters and painting the “Palestinian Israeli Conflict” as a justified position of self defense of Israel against Palestinian terror. This is a lie, but like many lies, it’s spouted as the truth. We have to look beneath the surface, seek out alternate news sources and records to understand what has happened and is happening. This isn’t actually as hard as people think, especially in our digital times. The people of Palestine are remarkably steadfast, and have been documenting and speaking and showing the world our truth for some time. It is up to us to see it, hear it, repeat it. It’s a position of fortune and privilege to remain uneducated about Palestine and Israel, to claim the issue is too complicated or that we don’t know enough to make a call. It’s a coward’s position. While we hide from the truth, bombs are landing on houses and killing 16 people in a single family. You have the capacity to know, and you have the capacity to teach others. Do so. Here are some sources to start:
d) For the visual, these graphs are amazing resources: http://visualizingpalestine.org
e) Also good visual content: http://ifamericansknew.org/
2)The decimation of Palestine is material, so our response must be material.
A) Currently, the US government sends $4 billion US dollars to Israel to aid in their genocidal and apartheid efforts. Our tax dollars helped blow up a center for the disabled in Gaza just days ago. The current administration, like other before it, feels no pressure to desist this aid from the American people, especially since Israel’s relationship with the US provides the US with a strategic, “democratic” ally in the Middle East and thereby serves US colonial interests. We have to put pressure on our government to desist funding the occupation. We have to elect officials who will stand for Palestinians. Lots of people will tell you that writing letters to your government, calling them, or attending protests will not make a difference. But you might also want to ask, how could these efforts hurt? They may not have the immediate desired effect, but lots of individual action can have a cumulative effect–not just in the sense of one more body at a rally, but a history of rallies.
Here is a group with actions and resources: http://www.endtheoccupation.org/
Here is a list of rallies around the world for Palestine: http://samidoun.ca/2014/07/take-action-protests-around-the-world-respond-to-assault-on-palestine/
B)Palestinian civil society has called for and been enacting BDS since 2005. From the bdsmovement.net:
The campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is shaped by a rights-based approach and highlights the three broad sections of the Palestinian people: the refugees, those under military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Palestinians in Israel. The call urges various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law by:
Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall; Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.
BDS has made huge strides in the past several years. Do not underestimate the value of the strategy. From the same site, here are 9 ways to support Gaza through BDS: http://www.bdsmovement.net/get-involved
Here are 8 products available in the US that you can boycott: http://muslimvillage.com/2014/07/13/55694/8-israeli-products-boycott/
3)The decimation of Palestine is discursive, so our response must be discursive.
One of the ways the occupation/oppression of Palestine has persisted so strongly is that Israel is a masterful producer of meaning about the Israeli state. Brand Israel hopes to underscore the state of Israel as “the only democracy in the Middle East,” a haven for persecuted Jewish populations and other oppressed minorities (women, queers). It presents itself as an ecologically conscious community. It presents itself as under threat rather than threatening. Because people believe this to be true, they can remain unconcerned or impassive in the face of what Israel actually is and does, not just to Palestinians, but to some of its so called protected Jewish community (see for instance, it’s treatment of Ethiopian Jews: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/resources/commentary-and-analysis/3917-israel-promised-land-for-jews-as-long-as-theyre-not-black).
We must dispute the falsities Israel creates and replace them. Many organizations are devoted to this, for example, Jewish Voice for Peace, a Jewish community who understands that critiquing Israel is not anti-Semitic (http://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/) and Breaking the Silence, where former Israeli soldiers speak about their experiences with occupation and the IDF (http://www.breakingthesilence.org.il/). Some of the links I shared above are equally committed.
By educating ourselves, we take the first steps toward remaking meaning around Israel and Palestine. By sharing that meaning and promoting it with others, we gain momentum in the movement to liberate Palestine. There is so much coming from Palestine that we can read and share, so much art and culture and life. When we engage it and recommend it and discuss it, we begin to create the ideological conditions that can move forward more material changes. We must attend to both simultaneously–how we frame the story and whether or not we pay to see it. You can do this everyday in conversation and with the choices you make regarding what you read, what you share, what you promote, what you buy, whether you stay silent in conversations about Israeli aggression, whether you decide this issue is not your concern. We cannot afford to stay silent. Our silence protects only the aggressor.
4) Donate to Gaza immediate relief funds