I don’t intend to turn this into an all-Israel/Palestine-all-the-time blog. There are too many other issues that matter to me, and not for nothing, but I would lose my mind.
However, it strikes me that many Americans, not least American Jews, who believe in the Palestinian people’s right to a state, and do not agree with Israeli tactics vis-a-vis the Palestinians, don’t always know where to start, in terms of looking for information or finding like-minded thinkers.
To that end, I decided to provide another list, this one geared toward spreading the word about groups and individuals doing good work (some permanently listed on my blogroll) on Israel/Palestine. It’s important to note that none are responsible for appearing here, and any mistakes I make or opinions I express are entirely my own. Likewise, I’m sure I don’t always agree with everything done by the folks on this list. The beauty part of pluralism is that we all get to have different opinions!
One more note before I get crackin’: I tend to privilege Israelis and Palestinians working in Israel/Palestine. The Diasporas of both peoples, and the American government and people, have an important role to play and their opinions are crucial. But each of these voices can be (and often is) written off, and not always unreasonably, for not actually having to live the problem. So I believe that to the extent that we align ourselves with folks on the ground, we are both helping them more, and giving our own arguments much deeper resonance.
- Combatants for Peace – former Israeli and Palestinian combatants, who get together to deal with their (often shockingly similar) demons, and advocate for co-existence. They do a lot of speaking events, in both the US and I/P. I’ve interviewed several members and written about them often, and one theme that keeps coming up, on both sides, is the notion that they were taught that being a patriot meant hating the other side — now they understand that if they’re true patriots, they’ll work for peace with the other side.
- Breaking the Silence (Shrovrim Shtika) – an organization of Israeli soldiers (former and still-serving, if I’m not mistaken) originally founded to bring to light the sheer barbarism involved in occupying the city of Hebron. Their first project was an exhibit of their own photographs, documenting the violence. They’re back in the news because they’re talking about the recent war in Gaza, about the extent of the destruction, the use of phosphorous in populated areas, and the “shoot first, ask questions later” attitude. Gershom Gorenberg (The Accidental Empire and co-blogger at South Jerusalem, see blogroll) has an excellent piece about the group for The American Prospect.
- Israeli-Palestinian Bereaved Families Forum (also known as The Parents Circle) – surviving family members of people who were killed in the violence, working both as a support group and co-existence organization (in a few heartbreaking cases, some of the men who are in Combatants for Peace are also members of the Bereaved Families Forum). They go on speaking tours, once traveled the states with a supremely moving exhibit of coffins, and do things like run blood-drives (Palestinians for Israelis, Israelis for Palestinians). They once had this phone line that allowed people on one side of the divide to talk with someone on the other — they got hundreds of thousands of callers.
- B’tselem – highly respected Israeli human rights organization that does amazing work gathering data and reporting on the human costs of the occupation.
- Just Jerusalem – Just Jerusalem is the organization behind the weekly protests in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem. From the website: “We’re a group of mostly young activists, mainly from Jerusalem who began to come to Sheikh Jarrah a few months ago to stand in solidarity with Palestinian families [being evicted from their home]. When we saw that settlers use their Friday afternoon prayers to heckle and attack the residents, we began showing up ourselves. Soon, we began staging weekly demonstration in cooperation with the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood committee. Despite the fact that the police tried to silence the protests by declaring them illegal and arresting over a hundred demonstrators, hundreds of activists now take part in these demos which have rapidly grown into one of the main focal-points of the Israeli dissent movement.” (updated-4/26/10)
- T’ayush – an Arab-Jewish partnership that focuses on action rather than advocacy, like protesting the Israeli Separation Wall, and providing provisions to Palestinians stuck in towns under curfew. (Unfortunately, the English version of the site isn’t nearly as updated as the Hebrew, but they’re good people).
- American Jewish organizations: Brit Tzedek v’Shalom is a national grassroots network mobilizing peace advocates within the Jewish community to work for an American policy that supports a two-state solution (as of Jan 2010, Brit Tzedek has been absorbed into the excellent J Street; see below); American Friends of Peace Now is affiliated with the Israeli organization founded in the wake of the (first) war in Lebanon; J Street calls itself “the political arm of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement” and maintains a PAC that endorses candidates who actively support a two-state solution. Not long ago, J Street did a poll that showed that more than two-thirds of American Jews would like to see a two-state solution, and would support an American government that put pressure on both sides to achieve that solution. Each organization is also a terrific source of information on the conflict and American efforts to address it; Brit Tzedek has a Rabbinic Council and a broad rabbinic network (Rabbi Rosen, who I’ve posted about a couple of times, serves on it, as did the late great Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf), so they often tie the drive for peace to the religious heritage of the Jewish people.
- Interesting blogs/information sources: I say “interesting” because here is where I’m more likely to run into differences of opinions — there are some blogs that I love (South Jerusalem! Holla!) and some that I think make a really important contribution, but I might do things a little differently. (As those bloggers might say of me!) Either way, the goals are roughly shared, and different approaches are needed all along the way. Here are some good places to start: South Jerusalem (note especially their archive of occupation and settlement documents, starting with the 1967 finding of the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s legal counsel that settlement in the newly occupied lands was illegal); Tikkum Olam (a liberal Jewish blog with an I/P focuses that occasionally takes different paths); Mondoweiss (established “to promote critical discussion and debate on US foreign policy and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”); Life must go on in Gaza and Sderot (created during the recent war by an Israeli in Sderot and a Palestinian in Gaza. It’s not been updated recently, but it’s very worthwhile to go through and read as these two men tried to deal with the war taking place in their names, out their front doors); The Electronic Intifada (run by Palestinian-American/Englishman [I confess that I’m not sure on this front!] Ali Abunimah, with whom I probably disagree as often as I agree. But give him a listen); The Institute for Middle East Understanding (a good source for information about life inside the territories, much of it looking beyond the sheer bloodiness of the conflict).
Okee dokee then! There are, of course, many many other sources and organizations and so on and so forth. I couldn’t possibly list everyone, and I wouldn’t want to try! Oy! But this is a good (several) place(s) to start. If you have something you’d like to add, please do so in the comments.