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Engaging in a dialogue about the aftermath of Hamas attacks and the enduring consequences of decades of colonialism and interference is undeniably challenging and fraught with vulnerability. The complexities of the issue are like a labyrinth, with historical nuances and ongoing conflicts weaving together a narrative that demands our attention.
In the wake of recent events, the global landscape bears witness to the profound impact on Jewish, Muslim, and Palestinian communities, as well as the haunting violence persisting in Gaza.
As we navigate through the fog of distorted media portrayals and the palpable fear that has seized hearts, one truth remains steadfast: this complex tapestry requires a foundation of respect, compassion, and empathy.
The unfolding story is not just a geopolitical concern; it is a human story, filled with anguish, loss, and the resilient spirit of those who continue to resist. In this exploration, we strive to understand, educate, and advocate for a future where empathy bridges divides, fostering solidarity for those affected by the enduring conflict.
Personal Reflection: A Journey to Understand
I am certainly not an expert in world affairs or geopolitical issues, but my heart bleeds for all who are affected by violence and war. The plight of the Palestinian people who have and continue to lose so much has been devastating to witness on the world stage. As a child, I often wondered about the origin and nature of this conflict. I felt lost and I didn’t know how to learn more or educate myself.
Voices of the Displaced: Learning from a Palestinian Refugee
In my previous semester of graduate school training, I had the privilege to listen and learn from someone who was willing to share their experiences and history as a Palestinian refugee living in the U.S. They described how the Palestinian people were forced from their homes; details of the 1948 Nakba, where Palestinian civilians were brutally massacred for resisting the occupation.
I came to understand that the conflict was a modern day example of colonialism and genocide fueled by foreign powers and their political machinations. I am not writing this to give a history lesson because I for one don’t have the information this topic deserves, but I do believe it is important to educate ourselves and come to a better understanding of the conflict’s origins and history if we are to begin to come close to doing anything about the current struggle.
Navigating Nuances: Critiquing Settler Colonialism
Critiquing settler colonialism is not a denigration, or denial of Judaism and people of Jewish faith, or their desire to live in this part of the world, a region with significant historic and cultural meaning, for Muslim and Jewish communities alike. Israel and Palestine have a nuanced, shared history that includes Palestinian, Israeli, Jewish, and Muslim identifying individuals. The forcible, violent removal of Palestinian people who have lived in the region for generations, that undeniably deserves criticism.
Building Bridges: Community Engagement and Connection
My heart is moved for the countless Palestinian and Israeli families who have been impacted by this enduring conflict and I pray for liberation, safety, and restoration, as well as peace.
Today, I am to focus on what can be done to demonstrate solidarity and advocacy for the Palestinian people who continue to resist occupation; who have illustrated resilience time and time again in the face of unfathomable loss, anguish, and terror.
I think we as a global community must first start with educating ourselves more and then having conversations. So much of Palestine’s history and culture has been distorted and hidden from view. Having difficult conversations with empathy and genuine curiosity is powerful. Using our voices and our hearts to connect with others and share what we know as well as what we believe in and why.
Surround yourself with people who are different from you. For many, this is super uncomfortable and charged, but diversity matters. It always has and always will. Learn from other folx and come in with an open mind and heart. Listen and reflect before responding.
We can choose whether to react or to respond and there is a significant distinction between the two. Reactivity sows more discord and adds only distance, but responding demonstrates a desire to engage and connect.
There are so many amazing opportunities to build community and bridge connection. This can be done through joining a special club dedicated to multiculturalism or Interfaith practices. Meetup.com can be a great place to start thinking about places to meet other folx.
Even your local community center may host free cultural events where you can learn about important cultural values, events, celebrations and more. Use social media wisely. Interrogate the information that is presented to you with thoughtful consideration. If you aren’t completely sure if something is accurate, ask to see cited sources, or look for other outlets and compare information.
Political Advocacy: Making Your Voice Heard
Contact your representatives and let them know what you think about this conflict and what you’d like to see happen. Included in the resource section of this article are links to ceasefire petitions. Signing and sharing these petitions are vital to supporting Palestine liberation.
Consumer Choices: Using Purchasing Power for Ethical Impact
Being mindful of your purchasing power is also important. If you are able to boycott big brands that contribute to the genocide, including McDonald’s, Walmart, and Starbucks, consider doing so because your power as a consumer does have an impact. Many of these huge companies use their resources for causes that may go directly against your values.
When possible, source your groceries from ethical, locally based farmer’s markets instead of big chain corporations. Before buying something new, investigate whether you can obtain what you are looking for from family and friends, or from second hand stores, and if possible, examine what you already have to see if there’s anything that can be a good fit for what you need. Support local restaurants and businesses to help them flourish.
In doing so, you are also supporting your community at home.
Unity and Support: Taking Care of Ourselves and Each Other
The most important thing an advocate can do is look after themselves because advocacy is quite frankly, a marathon. Once we pass one goal and another, there is almost inevitably, another halfway point, followed by another. The endgame grows further and further away. If we are to be effective community members, we must engage in thoughtful, sustainable self-care practices. Listen to your body, your intuition.
Trust in its messages. Rest when needed. Call up your support. The people you can rely on and be vulnerable with. Be gentle with yourself because what you’re doing is extremely challenging. You may feel depleted and wonder if what you are doing has any worth or provides any desirable outcomes, but every action truly begets another and that, I think, is something quite powerful.
Don’t forget to take care of each other. Lean on your support system. We’re not alone.
Resources for Understanding: Books, Videos, and Nonviolent Communication
Below I have included various different videos, books, websites, and media outlets where you can learn more about the history of Palestine and Israel. I have also included links to the principles of nonviolent communication which can provide very useful techniques when it comes to having difficult conversations with respect for all parties.
Nonviolent Communication Videos
Learning more about the Palestine-Israel conflict
The final link in the media outlets section is a pretty neat website where you can find all sorts of information and facts about almost any topic. The website has many cool distractions you can spend time on, but it also has a nice section dedicated to international news outlets.
Current Reflections on World Events
Activists, Historians, and Advocates sharing information
@queermuslimresistance: this is an org dedicated to supporting queer Muslim folx. They host online events and opportunities to be in community.
@theconsciouslee: Lee is an educator who posts researched, nuanced information about sociocultural and geopolitical issues with grace and humanity.
@letstalkpalestine is an educational account that provides regular content and updates about what is going on in Palestine. They have a podcast where they share more information. It can also be helpful to join their broadcast channel on Instagram where you will receive ongoing news info along with ideas on how to support.
@bernadette.kirwan is a content creator who shares some of her experiences as a half Irish half Arabic individual. She posts a variety of content, both educational and entertaining. Her account highlights the diversity that is often overlooked when the Middle East and its inhabitants are discussed. Bernadette’s page is a really awesome place to learn more about culture and history.
Reading Books about or somewhat related to the conflict
Except for Palestine: The Limits of Progressive Politics by Marc Lamont Hill & Mitchell Plitnick: This book is a great introductory read for anyone interested in better understanding the Israel-Palestine conflict.
It does a superb job at highlighting how this one social issue is almost always the single issue progressive Liberals and Democrats refrain from taking a stance on, even when it seems counter to the rest of their proclaimed ideologies and values.
The Return of the Taliban: Afghanistan After the Americans by Hassan Abbas: This particular book is not about the Israel-Palestine conflict, however, I think it is a great read when it comes to better understanding world events and the long history of conflict in the Middle East.
It is written with so much compassion and recognizes the humanity in histories that often leave out the human struggle of those with whom these events directly concern on a daily basis.
Dick Gregory’s Political Primer: Gregory’s book details history and critiques of the American electoral process. It can make for a thought-provoking read and may challenge views about the dominant two party system.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X: I am biased in recommending this particular autobiography because it happens to be my personal favorite. Reading this book grants you the opportunity and privilege to learn more about Malcolm X’s upbringing, his person, and his desire for liberation.
Malcolm X was a public supporter of Palestinian human rights.
Supporting Palestinian Authors
This is a list of various books written by Palestinian authors. Supporting artists, writers, historians, and activists is another way to expand your aperture, widen discussions, and continue your journey.
@kweenkaraza an artists on Instagram has created digital posters for download that you can purchase on their etsy shop, which will be linked below. For $3, you will receive 5 differently colored maps of Palestine, which you can share to show your support and encourage others to become involved. https://www.etsy.com/shop/harakaatshop?fbclid=PAAaYde9Ev2VXvyN4axPsxI4rM8czcCPf-IGFAgdNerhNOHd1lU8-Ewe1S9cc&load_webview=1&bid=GqzGmg8guceJbflW3ZVrLV1NroM5
Share the meal is a downloadable app which can recommend different global fundraisers which focus on solving food insecurity. With your account you can set up regular automatic donations to causes of your choice, as well as track your donations and their impact. https://sharethemeal.org/en-us/
Finding your Senate Representatives
What is Zionism?
Jewish Voice for Peace is an anti-Zionist
Black Lives Matter Movement and its Solidarity with Palestine
Music is a form of resistance
Below I have shared two of my favorite examples of this. The first link is an English song about the plight of the Palestinian people and their will to survive. The second song is a Persian song created by Shervin Hajipour, that American band Coldplay performed to demonstrate their support of the Iranian people in the wake of the human rights protests. Shadia Mansour, is a Palestinian rapper who performs Arabic music and raps. Her song, El Kofeyye Arabeyye discusses the Palestinian struggle.
These songs are also available on Spotify.
O Aqsa Palestine Nasheed
El Kofeyye Arabeyye
In the pursuit of advocating for Palestinian rights and its refugee populations, we find ourselves at the intersection of awareness and action, fueled by a commitment to justice and human dignity.
The journey we’ve embarked upon is one that requires continuous self-reflection, education, and engagement. As we encourage difficult conversations, bridge cultural divides, and amplify the voices of those directly impacted, we contribute to a collective narrative of understanding and empathy.
Beyond the complexities and challenges lies the potential for positive change. By embracing diverse perspectives, supporting local communities, and critically evaluating our choices, we exercise the power to make a meaningful impact.
Advocacy is a marathon, and as we navigate its twists and turns, let us not forget the importance of sustainable self-care and mutual support. The path to a just and peaceful resolution may be long, but every step taken with intention and compassion brings us closer to a world where the rights and dignity of all are honored.