Anyone with a morsel of humanity wants to see the Palestinian people free and equal. Anyone who takes time to listen to their experience can see that they live as second-class citizens within Israel, under occupation with limited freedom in the West Bank or in an open air prison in Gaza, which, as a means of Israeli self-defence, regularly gets disproportionately bombed.
How we achieve freedom and equality is a question un-answered for 73 years. There would seem little in the way of solutions left, both people want to live in the land and neither can live there in the way they would like whilst the other remains. Whilst solutions may seem impossible and resultantly Palestinians lose hope in the support of international allies, we look to the individual. What then do Palestinians of the West Bank want from you? We asked Mazen, Haneen, and Mohammed, young professionals and a leader of an established charity in Hebron.
Visit Palestine and learn
It is currently not an option, but it will be again soon. There are plenty of organisations that provide free accommodation in exchange for language or simply for you to come, witness, and pass your testimony on.
Support charities working on the ground in Palestine
Some charities observe and record abuse of Palestinians in the West Bank such as TIPH. There are medical charities giving aid to Palestinians caught in the conflict such as MAP UK. There are organisations that take on specific needs of the communities such as building work places and schools such as HIRN. There is an organisation that supports Bedouin communities through providing them with water and energy called COMET ME.
Find ways to listen to Palestinians
Whilst we cannot visit we can still speak to people. There are groups on Facebook for connecting with Palestinians and events being held where you can meet with Palestinians on Zoom, Become The Voice CIC holds regular events.
Communicate what you see and what you hear
Blog, Vlog, twitter, Facebook, instagram – become a part of the witness and testimony.
Be an anti-Semite or let anti-Semitism go unchallenged
It is sad this needs to even be in this article but behaviours at recent protests in Europe make evident that it most certainly must. This means do not assume all Jews support Israeli policy. Do not blame Jews for Israeli policy.
Support the Jewish right to self-determination and with that a safe place to call home, by supporting this you are not necessarily supporting Israeli policy. Many Jews see Israel as their home but disagree with their policies.
Read up on what anti-Semitic tropes are and if you see them challenge them.
Mohammed from the West Bank had this to say in response to horrific examples of anti-Semitism at pro-Palestine protests in Europe:
‘We don’t need that, our cause is fair, our cause is just, we don’t need that, don’t bring your hateful agendas to our protests’
Feel you have to support BDS (Boycott Divest and Sanction) to support Palestinians
BDS does a brilliant job of starting conversations and expanding support from individuals outside of Palestine however sometimes it can be made to feel like if you do not support BDS you do not support Palestinians. Its focus on boycotting has become aggressive at times.
Mohammed shares with us his experience:
‘I was in the UK fundraising for building a school in Hebron, West Bank, I am Palestinian and from Hebron and run a charity there, I was drinking coco-cola when a friend of mine challenged me, ‘You can’t drink this, coco-cola funds Israel.’’ ‘The assumption that I am less supportive of my people for drinking coco-cola is absurd, not drinking it will have no impact on Palestinians, in fact sometimes there is no way of avoiding buying Israeli products in Palestine.’
CAVEAT! (Before the devout BDSers troll this article…) Mohammed did say that BDS has a significant role in raising awareness of the Palestinian cause but it must be seen as a part of a wider solution and support for it must not be seen as the be all and end all of Palestinian solidarity.
Be afraid of nuance. Or be afraid of saying you do not know what the solution is
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be made to feel very black and white, are you pro- Palestine or pro-Israel? You do not have to label yourself this way. You can be pro both in the sense that you support Jews wanting to live peacefully in areas they now call home, oppose policies that oppress and continue to take land and homes from the Palestinians and support Palestinians right to live in equality and peace. Currently this is a seemingly impossible dream but equally being in one camp or the other does not bring the situation any closer to a solution: You don’t need to know how this conflict will be resolved!
‘We have plenty of hope in the individuals of the international community but not in their countries, we hope to see individuals and their NGOs back out in Palestine soon.’
It is disappointing that this article needed writing at all but behaviours at protests and societal pressure to be seen doing and saying the ‘right’ things demanded a pause, a listen and then a patronising Do and Don’t article followed.