*This blog is a “simplified” breakdown of the current Palestinian humanitarian crisis. In no way does this blog claim, promote or encourage anti-semitism in any way, shape or form. This blog contains information including history, educational resources, statistics, credible organizations, media coverage and donation platforms and is NOT an attempt to push any narrative. DO NOT USE THIS BLOG AS A MAIN SOURCE OF INFORMATION.
By now, you’ve probably started to notice posts throughout various social media platforms in regards to Palestine, Israel, Masjid Al-Aqsa, and other related topics. (If not, you should really adjust your following). With mass amounts of posts, infographics, videos and more being shared, it can often become overwhelming to keep up and continuously educate ourselves due to misinformation, false narratives, propaganda, idiotic celebrities, and those who take advantage of others suffering to create fake donation campaigns. So with that being said, I’ve taken all* of the information I’ve seen floating around Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and multiple credible sources to break everything down to the best of my abilities. So, where do we start?
*It’s impossible to include every single piece of information to ever exist in regards to this topic, especially due to its 70+ year-long history, so let’s not take that statement literally
“I’ve seen some trending hashtags and posts, what’s happening?”
We’ll start by taking a little trip down memory lane with the 5W’s. For those who don’t know what that means, that stands for:
- WHO: Palestinian residents and Israeli military/police forces
- WHAT: The illegal, violent and forced removal of Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah alongside the destruction of Masjid Al-Aqsa
- WHEN*: May 6th, 2021 to present
- WHERE: Sheikh Jarrah, a neighbourhood of East Jerusalem
- WHY: The Supreme Court of Israel stated Israeli settlers could forcefully overtake and inhabit Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem in attempts to colonize and ethnically cleanse Palestinian Territories
*Despite recent media coverage displaying this situation from May 6th, 2021 onward, these attacks in hopes to remove all traces of Palestine have been happening since 1948. The history leading to these events dates back to 1799. To see a detailed historic timeline, click here.
“But why should we be concerned? Isn’t this a Muslim/Religious issue?”
WRONG. To start, not all Palestinians are Muslim, there are Palestinian Christians, Jews and Muslims who at one point co-existed within and throughout Palestine. Islam, Christianity and Judaism are all Abrahamic religions, meaning all three religions trace their origins to the first two sons of Abraham. Meaning everyone, especially those who follow/practice Abrahamic religions, should be concerned, as Masjid Al-Aqsa lies in the Old City of Jerusalem which is a designated World Heritage site by UNESCO, as it’s one of the holiest sites in the world for all three religions. Because of its religious and historical significance, Masjid Al-Aqsa has become a focal point for Israeli attacks, especially during Ramadan.
With that being said, the humanitarian crisis within Palestinian Territories has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with Israeli colonization, ethnic cleansing, military occupation and apartheid. For nearly 70 years, Israel has denied Palestinians their fundamental rights and freedoms, following settler colonialism*. With support from powerful nations such as the United States, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Belgium, Israel is able to terrorize Palestinians on their legal land with no repercussions. “But doesn’t the United Nations step in to help like they claim they do?”. WRONG. The United Nations have been ineffective for many years due to their Security Council, lack of involvement, failure to reach consensus on worldly issues, alongside members having veto powers*. Not only do these powerful nations support Israel and this genocide, but their corporations and institutions work alongside Israel to exploit, displace, attack and often kill Palestinian citizens. This is NOT a religious or specifically Islamic issue, this is a humanitarian crisis that everyone should be appalled by.
*Veto power: The power solely held by five permanent members of the United Nations (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States) which allows said members to prevent the adoption of any “substantive” resolution. This power is one of the main culprits behind the inaction and abuse of power within the UN.
* Settler colonialism is a form of colonialism that aims to replace the native population of a colonized country/nation/region with a new society of settlers. Meaning “Israel” is a colony attempting to colonize the country of Palestine.
“But if both countries are fighting and afraid, why is it only #FreePalestine?”
Contrary to popular belief aka Western and Zionist media attempting to demonize Palestine to shift the focus from Israeli attacks and forces, both countries aren’t fighting. Palestine is merely retaliating and resisting the attempts to ethnically cleanse their territories, as anyone would do if their home and loved ones were being attacked, destroyed and killed. “But Palestine is firing rockets alongside Israel firing missiles, everyone is hiding in shelters because of it, they’re equally as bad”, let’s put things into perspective here, shall we?
- In 2016, the U.S. and Israeli governments signed their third 10-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on military aid, covering 2019 to 2028. Under the terms of the MOU, the United States pledged to provide $38 billion in military aid, of which 5 billion is specifically designated for missile defence, to Israel. This MOU followed a previous $30 billion 10-year agreement, which ran through 2018. Because of this, Israel has one of the most technologically advanced military systems in the world. Not to mention the Israel Defense Forces have fighter jets, battle tanks, navy ships, and a mass plethora of guns, explosives, grenade launchers, remote-controlled weapons, etc.
- Palestine has no army, air force or military. They have no billion-dollar funding from US taxpayer money. They have no missile defence or shelters. They have no advanced military equipment. What they have are terrified civilians risking their lives to protect their homes and loved ones…with rocks
- The rockets launched by Hamas from Gaza are simple, steel artillery rockets called Qassam rockets. These rockets cannot be fired at specific targets, are inaccurate as well as prone to malfunction. Pair this combination with Israel’s 5 billion dollar missile defence system and think to yourself “hey, maybe it’s not fair to compare million dollar advanced missiles to $800 steel rockets”, just a thought.
“So everyone should be aware/educated on the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, I want to make a post of some sort, what terminology should I be using?”
When it comes to spreading awareness through social media or conversation, a great place to start is using the correct terminology to avoid shifting the focus to “Palestine vs Israel” and emphasizing “Palestine is being attacked by Israel”. So instead of using:
- “Both Sides”
- Ethnic Cleansing
- Israeli Settler Colonists
- State-Sanctioned Violence
- Boycott Israel
- End the Occupation
- Illegal Settlements
By using proper terminology, we shift the focus to spreading awareness and supporting the oppressed, rather than pitting the oppressed against their oppressors and speaking of the situation as if they are “equals.”
“Okay so I get the terminology and I’ve reposted some things and even written a few myself, but what does it really do?”
Social media and the usage of platforms, regardless of size, are a superpower that many fail to recognize the strength of. For many countries like Palestine, when situations of mass violence and injustice occur, the opportunity to spread awareness through media is often taken away from them. This presents itself in the form of purposely twisted misinformation, removal of internet access (such as government-issued blackouts), media censorship by large platforms, loss/destruction of electronic devices, etc. Palestinian citizens also put everything on the line when sharing the terrorism they endure, as Israel controls their water and power supplies. From the few videos we’ve seen from Palestine, whether it be the aftermath of Israeli airstrikes, protest footage or moments captured during the attacks on Masjid Al-Aqsa, we’ve been able to boost their coverage and amplify the situation to a point where it can no longer be ignored. Without social media engagement, it’s easy for larger powers to sweep these injustices under the 70+ year-old rug. By spreading awareness, we increase the probability for change, we force the movement despite all odds, and we come together from all over the world to stand for our Palestinian brothers and sisters.
“I understand how posting helps, but my mutuals haven’t posted anything and haven’t mentioned it either, some even said it’s not their problem and it’ll ruin their feed/social status”
This can be a tricky one for multiple reasons, so let’s unpack them.
- Despite the power of social media activism, these platforms often lead to performative activism or “clout activism”. This means important discussions and attempts to spread awareness are flooded by individuals who see activism as a trend or fad, and if they participate with a blank square and maybe a hashtag if they’re feeling risky, they’ll clear their conscience and please the crowd. What clout activism actually does is overpower actual sources of information and resources, pushing important information to the bottom while selfies with “#FreePalestine” make the cover.
TIP: if you can take the time to post a blank square with a single hashtag, you can take the time to read through/watch legitimate and credible infographics and videos that actually help spread awareness and push for change while simultaneously educating yourself through other credible resources.
- Alongside performative activism comes those who pick and choose which human rights issue they speak on are the leaders of performative activism. You cannot call yourself an activist and only speak on situations that appeal to you while leaving the rest behind. You do not get to label yourself as an activist if all you do is re-share a single post for one particular cause only to immediately forget about it two minutes later. That helps no one, that changes nothing, that supports no one.
- Social media has conditioned us to believe that if someone isn’t posting every twenty seconds about every humanitarian crisis, acts of injustice, racism, prejudice, discrimination, violence, protests, petitions, donation fund, etc that We ArEn’T dOiNg OuR pArT. The truth is, burnout is a very real thing that can be very detrimental to our mental and sometimes even physical health. Not everyone can stomach being bombarded by violence, gore and genocide while simply trying to scroll through their feed. With that being said, we must also consider that many view social media activism as performative or that it comes off as repetitive with constant re-shares, retweets, and other methods of spreading awareness. So instead of showing their support in a public matter, they choose to have important conversations in their group chats, class discussions, and at the family dinner table. Just because someone doesn’t follow your personal choice to conduct and present their support and knowledge doesn’t mean they aren’t doing it all.
- There will always be the mutual who “wants to stay neutral” and believes “both sides should just stop…world peace :).” The major issue with this is when you choose to take no side, you automatically choose the side of the oppressor. Why? Because in a situation where a voice is all it takes to cause the domino effect towards change, you choose to be silent. But when enough voices speak up, when enough force is built up through educated discussion and information sharing, the dominos start to fall. Although they fall slowly in the beginning, when they pick up speed and each one falls faster than the last, you know what happens? Things change. So when you choose to stand in silence, you refuse to rock the boat, you look the other way when those who are dying merely ask for you to share their story, you not only stand with the oppressor, but you push the dominos back up when they try to come down. There is no middle ground when the grounds we speak of are being stolen and littered with illegal settlements that break international laws while facing zero consequences. Neutral. Is. Not. An. Option.
- For the wannabe influencers who would rather please their 1200 uninterested followers who know nothing about them except their first name and generic feed, I’ve got a trick for you. There’s this nifty feature that every social media platform has, usually looks like “…”, and if you click on it there’s this funny little option called “Block user”. I think you should give it a try! Hell, give it multiple tries on every account that chooses empty likes and clout instead of using their platform to raise awareness for innocent Palestinian lives. There is no relationship, platonic or romantic, worth agreeing to overlook their ignorance towards the life of another human being. If they can look the other way for those in Palestine, what stops them from doing the same to you when the opportunity presents itself? Bring it up in conversation, don’t lead with your views, and watch their stance unfold without you saying a single word. Then you’re left with two options: continue the conversation with those who support the oppressed, and remove those who support the oppressor from your conversations completely.
“With taking all of the previous information into account, how do we make sure our support towards Palestine isn’t antisemitic?”
ANTI-ZIONISM ≠ ANTISEMITISM
JEWISH PEOPLE ≠ THE ISRAELI STATE
The goal here is to denounce Zionism and the nationalist erasure of Palestine carried out by the Israeli government and military. Let’s look at a few definitions to first understand what these words mean, ultimately revealing the differences between them. anti-zionism and antisemitism.
- Zionism → a political ideology and settler-colonial movement established to create a Jewish State on Palestinian Territory
- Anti-Zionism → opposition to the Israeli states attempts to remove and ethnically cleanse Palestinian Territories
- Anti-Semitism → hostility to or prejudice against Jewish people.
So, what does that have to do with antisemitism? Anti-Zionism is not hostility or prejudice towards Jewish people, it is an opposition to systemic apartheid and loss of indigenous Palestinian rights and land. Anti-Zionism becomes antisemitism when we associate the horrific actions and violence carried out by the Israeli State with Jewish people as a whole, which is extremely dangerous and problematic for obvious reasons. Our support towards the oppressed (Palestine) becomes illegitimate and hateful once we associate the oppressor (Israeli State) with all things Jewish, not when we criticize the Israeli State. Nation-states and their oppressive governments DO NOT represent an entire group of people. Supporting Palestine isn’t anti-semitic, but the attempts to label anti-zionism as anti-semitism are used to minimize and criminalize speaking out on or supporting Palestine. Such a label ensures the Israeli State faces zero consequences for its actions while harming those who go against it, as being labelled as anti-semitic can cost individuals and groups their friends, jobs, education, and sometimes their life.
“Okay so we’re aware, we’re educating ourselves, but how can we help financially? ”
Finding credible organizations to provide donations, relief and aid can be extremely difficult, why you ask? Disgusting individuals and groups tend to abuse the compassion of individuals who want to help by creating fake organizations and donation sites in order to profit from innocent civilians’ pain and suffering. In order to ensure your donations, whether it be money, food or aid, go to the right place, research the organizations before blindly donating just because you saw the donation post circling around and trusted it because of its popularity. The organizations listed below are credible, legitimate sources who ensure all donations go to Palestine and its people. Following that list are credible and trustworthy Instagram accounts with information, resources, and “simplified” explanations.
- Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF)
- Islamic Relief Canada (IRC)
- Rebuilding Alliance
- United Palestinian Appeal (UPA)
- Museum of the Palestinian People
- The BDS Movement
For more information, resources, history, etc:
- Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU) @theimeu on Instagram
- Jewish Voice for Peace @jewishvoiceforpeace on Instagram
- Palestinian Youth Movement @palestinianyouthmovement on Instagram
- Middle East Eye @middleeasteye on Instagram
- @letstalkpalestine on Instagram
- @eye.on.palestine on Instagram
“I don’t see anything about Palestine anymore, how do we keep the same momentum despite seeing it less?”
Once the peak of any humanitarian crisis “begins to fall”, the number of posts and mass information spreading will slowly decrease throughout our social media feeds and news channels. Despite the lull, Palestine is still suffering the devastating consequences of Zionism and ethnic cleansing, so how do we stay informed and support Palestine?
- Continue to research the subject and educate yourself on both the history and current events of the situation
- Continue to share and repost information, resources, donation sites, organizations, etc to your social media
- Donate to credible organizations and share them on all platforms
- Continue to discuss related topics with friends, family and those around you
- Sign petitions and write to your government officials
- Remember that this isn’t “just a trend” or “just a hashtag”, there are real people in a constant state of pain, fear and suffering. Imagine if the roles were reversed, what would you pray others would do to help you?
- Use your voice. Always use your voice in whichever ways you possibly can. Palestine will never give up, so instead of giving up on supporting them, the least you can do from the comfort and safety of your home is to continue to spread awareness and support our Palestinian brothers and sisters.