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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

How to be an ally: a guide by a Palestinian student in Qatar

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Protests and boycotts are just some of the calls for action that can be taken to stand in solidarity with Palestinians. Here are some more steps you can take today:

As of today Tuesday, 213 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza alone, one third of whom are children, while a shocking 40,000 have been displaced from their homes amid ongoing Israeli bombardment. 

As the death toll continues to mount, it is now more important than ever to learn how to be better allies to Palestinians under occupation.

But first, what triggered the flare-up?

There’s a sequence of events that led up to the latest flare-up in violence. 

Earlier this year, Israel issued illegal “eviction” notices to Palestinians living in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, paving the way for settlers to literally steal the homes of Palestinians who have been living there for decades.

Shortly after, protests erupted across occupied Palestine, with Palestinians taking to the streets to peacefully protest the forced expulsions.

However, demonstrators were met with extreme violence, arbitrary arrests as well as skunk water – a chemically advanced form of sewage water regularly used by Israeli occupation forces.

Despite this, Palestinians continued to peacefully protest and Israel reacted with yet more violence and attacks. Just days after the demonstrations started, Israeli forces violently assaulted Palestinians praying at Al-Aqsa mosque during the holy month of Ramadan.

Rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades and smoke grenades were shot at worshippers mid prayer inside and outside the holy mosque.

Shortly after, widespread protests across Palestine broke out to denounce the unjustified use of violence at the Al Aqsa mosque. 

In Gaza, Hamas responded to calls from its people to weigh in, calling on Israel to halt all its attacks on Palestinians or face retaliation. However, this did little to sway Israel, which soon doubled down on its assault against peaceful protesters, prompting a response from the Palestinian resistence.

Since then, Israel launched an indiscriminate bombing campaign on the besieged Gaza Strip while settler mobs in other parts of occupied Palestine targeted Palestinians while chanting “death to Arabs”.

Shocking footage that emerged online showed settlers lynching Palestinians in public with little to no response or repercussions from Israeli authorities. Palestinian homes were stormed, set on fire and stolen by settlers.

The violence has gained the attention of people worldwide, with thousands taking to the streets in major capital cities to stand in solidarity with Palestinians facing attacks and ethnic cleansing. 

While protests have shed light on Israeli atrocities and war crimes, there are several other actions that many Palestinians activists are asking allies to implement in their daily lives.

Learn

First and foremost, as an ally you need to understand the settler-colonial and apartheid frameworks of the reality Palestinians are facing. What you see happening in Palestine today is nothing new and is part of an ongoing ethnic cleansing that dates back to 1948.

Take the initiative to learn about Palestine – it has become so much easier today. Check out Decolonize Palestine, a website launched by two Palestinians in Ramallah. It includes a Palestine101 section that dives into the history of the country and cause. The website also includes a complete reading list of books you can read. Through learning, you will fully understand that what is happening in Palestine is more than just a “conflict.”

Speak up and amplify Palestinian voices

As a non-Palestinian ally, it’s vital to centre Palestinian voices on this topic, especially when there are forces attempting to silence them. Speak up by sharing content by Palestinians on the ground and spreading their message on social media. As an ally, do not speak over them.

Palestinians on the ground are risking their lives to film the reality of the brutal occupation. Amplify their voices, and use relevant hashtags on social media. Remember, you have power, and posting on social media is not useless at all. 

You can also speak up by reaching out to your governmental representatives, wherever you come from, and urge them to take action against Israel. Sign petitions aimed towards your state’s government. Talk to your friends and family who may be ignorant or unaware of what is happening and urge them to speak up. Use your voice and positions to further amplify Palestinian voices. Speaking up is the bare minimum.

More importantly, it’s important to use the correct terminology (settler colonialism and apartheid rather than a conflict) when speaking about Palestine.

Donate

Due to the devastating airstrikes in Gaza, many Palestinians have now been made homeless and medical facilities are scarce, if not completely damaged.

You can do your part in helping by donating to charities and relief funds to aid Palestinians in need.  For example, you can donate to Qatar Charity’s Palestine relief campaign on their website or even through Talabat. There are countless other donation sites you can help, this is a twitter thread with different fundraisers for Palestinians.

However, it is important to emphasise that donations should not replace political actions. Furthermore, make sure that site you’re making your donation to is reliable. 

Boycott

Endorse the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS). Inspired by the successful anti-apartheid campaign strategies in South Africa, the BDS grassroot movement aims to end international support towards Israel and apply pressure for it to comply with international law.

Implement BDS in your daily life by boycotting Israeli products and products that directly support the Israeli occupation. For example, you can boycott PUMA, “the main sponsor of the Israel Football Association, which includes teams in illegal Israeli settlements.” 

You can also boycott Fenix scooters that are all over Qatar, as their main investor is an Israeli company. Check out this page on the BDS website on what to boycott. It can be hard to keep track of all brands, so download the app “Buycott,”. It allows you to easily identify if you should boycott a certain product by scanning its barcode.

Extend your practice of BDS by pushing institutions and companies you study or work in to endorse the movement. Urge them to boycott and divest from companies complicit in the occupation. Practice academic, cultural, and economic boycott of Israel or institutions/conferences/companies that are sponsored by Israel.

Lastly, join and support local BDS organization and campaigns. In Qatar, there is the Qatar Youth Opposed to Normalization (QAYON) group that works in the framework of BDS and stands against normalisation with the occupying state. 

Keep the media in check

Observe and assess language used by local media. Are they calling this a “conflict”? Are they referring to the forced displacements of Sheikh Jarrah as “evictions”? Are they calling the massacre happening in Gaza a “war”? If so, file complaints to ensure changes are made to their editorials.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Doha News, its editorial board or staff.


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