Many people who have been shocked by the brutality of this latest Israeli attack on Gaza have asked: what can we do to help? I think that’s a fair question, and one that deserves to be answered as broadly as possible. There are multiple ways to help, and I’ve tried to compile a list that offers a broad set of options that you can choose from below (note that this list was motivated and inspired by a nice list made by an anonymous person and shared by Alex Reza). Depending on how much time and effort you’re willing to commit, you can choose to participate in one or many of these options, and every little helps. I don’t pretend that the list below is comprehensive or incorporates every possible means of helping. As such, if you feel strongly about options that are not included, by all means, copy/paste, add that to the list and then share. Also, if you disagree with certain options, feel free to copy/paste and remove these options and then share. Either way, share as widely as possible, subject to your personal sensibilities.
1) Educate yourself
I can’t emphasize this one enough. There are many resources available to you to learn more about the Palestinian Israeli “conflict”, and understanding the history of the “conflict” is critical. Context matters. This latest brutal attack didn’t happen in a vacuum. There are underlying reasons that go back in time that are critical to understand in order to better contextualize why this “conflict” persists, and why this attack (only the latest one on Gaza) happened. I’m tired of US mainstream media (in particular) erasing, censuring or avoiding context and turning the discussion into cliches like “cycle of violence” that insist on a false sense of “balance” between two parties seemingly at war. In reality, this is a “conflict” between a people that has been ethnically cleansed, dispossessed, refugized and occupied, resisting an oppressor who continues to insist on defining the victim as victimizer. Here’s a good graphical primer to get started and that gives that much needed historical context.
a) News Sources and Analysis
Maan News Agency
b) Documentaries / Movies / Clips
Here’s a good 5 minute video to get started.
Films for action has a good list of documentaries.
I strongly recommend “Palestine Is Still the Issue”, “5 Broken Cameras” and “The Israeli Lobby”. Also, even though they did not make the top 10 in their list, “Tears in Gaza”, “Death in Gaza” and “Occupation 101” are very good. The other films are also not bad and give you different angles to the conflict.
Harms & Ferry “The Palestine Israel Conflict: Basic Introduction”
Pappe, Ilan “A History of Modern Day Palestine: One Land, Two People”
Said, Edward “The Question of Palestine”
Neumann, Michael “The Case Against Israel”
Abunimah, Ali “One Country”
Mearsheimer & Walt “The Israeli Lobby and US Foreign Policy”
Masalha, Nur “Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of “Transfer” in Zionist Political Thought”
Morris, Benny “Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict-, 1881-2001”
Khalidi, Walid “From Haven to Conquest: Readings in Zionism and the Palestine Problem Until 1948″
2) Outreach and Education
a) Social media. Spreading the word though social media is a great way to disseminate points of view and information. Most people get their news from Facebook or Twitter these days, so take advantage of that. Having said that, some important words of caution:
Please make sure that the information that you provide is first and foremost accurate. Too many times, people unfortunately share images that are not from Gaza (they may be from Iraq or Syria, for example), or videos that are old but are pitched as new (they may be from previous attacks on Gaza, for example), or simply videos or images that are fakes or doctored (photo-shopped images or edits and dubs that give the impression someone is saying something that is not true, for example). Of course, people don’t do it on purpose, but it’s our responsibility to check to make sure we’re sharing accurate information. Sharing inaccurate information doesn’t help on two fronts. First, by definition, it is information that is not representative of reality (whether the person sharing it knows or doesn’t know). Second, it serves to undermine your credibility, which is your most important asset. Finally, the truth is brutal enough, and as such, is more than enough in getting your point across.
Contextualize and explain what you’re sharing. It doesn’t help if you simply post an image of a dead child. Who is this child? How did he or she die? What is the name of the child? What were the circumstances of his or her death?
b) Call your representatives. This may or may not be effective depending on where you live, but is still worth engaging in given the small effort this requires. For people in the US, the following link allows you to simply input your zip code in order to find out who represents you both in the House and in the Senate. You can also call the Whitehouse at the following number 202-456-1111. Feel free to add information for the country you live in.
c) Talk to people. In this age of technology, we simply don’t do this enough. Many people are curious about the situation and what’s going in Gaza right now, so take every opportunity to discuss this with them if they express interest. Invite them for lunch, dinner, or simply coffee. I’ve found that a 1 on 1 discussion is the most effective way of conveying information to people who are interested. Yes, it’s only one person at a time, but the quality of information uptake is second to none, and every person counts.
3) Participate in local protests, vigils and “solidarity events”
Depending on your availability and the timing of these events in your local area, try to make some of these (and I know it’s hard sometimes, and I’m just as guilty as anyone else for missing some of these). This helps on several fronts: first, it demonstrates solidarity with the people of Gaza that are under constant bombardment, which helps them know that they are not alone in this struggle; second, it demonstrates to your local community that there is an opposition to the actions of Israel, and may also lead them to get interested in learning more about the “conflict”; third, it puts pressure on your local representatives to acknowledge the existence of this opposition, which may help in putting pressure on politicians to “do something” (especially here in the US); finally, if media is present, it allows your message to be broadcast to a much wider audience that may otherwise be oblivious to the situation.
4) Donate Money
Donating money is a great way to contribute to alleviating some of the suffering that the people of Gaza are currently undergoing. Every little helps. The United Nations Relief & Work Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has launched a Gaza emergency appeal here.
Other well-respected non-profits include (Thanks Lena):
Palestinian Children Relief Fund
Some other non-profits recommended in Alex Reza’s list:
Middle East Children’s Alliance
Palestinian Center for Human Rights
American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA)
United Palestinian Appeal
5) Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)
This section is taken from the BDS section of Alex Reza’s list:
Boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) is a movement that was called for by Palestinian civil society. It is a grassroots, nonviolent form of resistance that there are so many ways to participate in.
Here is the Palestinian Civil Society Call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions.
Get involved with (or start) a campaign for your university, workplace, union, etc. to pull out its investments in companies that are connected to Israeli human rights offenses.
Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) has led many successful divestment campaigns at universities across the country.
We Divest is a project of Jewish Voice for Peace, which has successfully pressured TIAA-CREF around its occupation investments.
Here is a quick list of companies that profit from Israeli human rights offenses. Consumer boycott is about individually deciding not to buy these products, but it’s also about popular education. Flyering to educate people about what’s behind this stuff. Encouraging local shops not to sell these products.There are ongoing successful consumer boycott campaigns against SodaStream and Sabra Hummus, for example.
Cultural and Academic Boycott:
As artists and academics, it’s very important that we decolonize the way we produce our work, and don’t let it be used to normalize violent structures.
There is a set of guidelines for cultural and academic boycott from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) that artists and academics can sign on to.
Academic boycott guidelines
Cultural boycott guidelines
If you are an Israeli citizen, you can also sign the Boycott from Within statement, and get involved with their work.
An excellent resource, which can help you find information for whichever kind of BDS campaign you decide to get involved with, is the Who Profits? database.