A few thoughts on how to help the people of Gaza, and how to help Palestinians and Israelis striving to achieve a life without conflict:
Contact your elected representatives and tell them that you hope they will call for, and actively support, an immediate ceasefire.
US Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) ran an op/ed in the Washington Post yesterday doing just that – the easiest thing would be to read it (excerpt below), then include in your email/tell the staffer who answers the phone that you agree with Rep. Ellison and hope your Senator/Rep will join him. They’ll know what you’re talking about, so it will serve as good short-hand. If you’re Jewish – mention it. I cannot stress how important it is to stand up and be counted right now (and if you’re Jewish and heartbroken and horrified by this war, please know that you’re not alone – click here).
Click here for the US House contact page (enter your Zip Code to find your Rep); click here for the US Senate. Emails are good, but if you feel up to it, phone calls are better. I’ll be honest: You and I both know that most of your representatives will not do what you’re asking them to do — but it’s important that they know that there are people who want to see it done. This is how change starts.
- “There is no military solution to this conflict. The status quo brings only continued pain, suffering and war. Promoting economic development and social interaction in Gaza is in the long-term security interest of Israel and the rest of the region…. Ultimately, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be resolved with a final status agreement, and ending the violence and the blockade is a first step toward a permanent solution.” Rep. Keith Ellison
Speak up. Despite the difficulties in speaking up about this issue, despite how fraught it always seems to be and is especially right now – speak up. Do so politely, and with respect for the humanity on the other side (however so defined) but please: Speak up. The Western world, and the American Jewish community in particular, has maintained silence and thus ignorance for far too long. Please – the only way humanity has ever changed is when people started to talk about change.
Share what you know, about the facts (you can get more here) and about those who are struggling even now against the forces of war: People like the Palestinian-Israeli Bereaved Families Forum (people who have all lost loved ones to the violence but work together now toward peace); Combatants for Peace (former fighters from both sides now working together); Breaking the Silence (Israeli soldiers who give testimony from their own experiences about the ugly reality of military occupation); B’tselem (Israeli human rights org with Palestinian field workers in Gaza right now); Just Vision (“increasing the power and the legitimacy of Palestinians and Israelis working to end the occupation and resolve the conflict nonviolently”) — on and on. There are not enough people doing this kind of work, but it is a lie and a dishonor to all who are doing it to ignore their efforts.
Donate. If you have a little to spare, here are a couple of great places that could use the help:
- UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) – UNRWA is currently housing 236,374 civilians in 86 UNRWA schools – an average of 2,750 per school (many of which have been targeted anyway). Several of their own workers have been killed in the violence. Click here for their donations page; and click here for their Twitter feed, which is a very good, quick way to get a sense of the challenge they’re currently facing.
- Physicians for Human Rights (Israel) – The Israeli branch of Physicians for Human Rights; they’re working to get medical supplies into Gaza and have already brought in more than $200,000 worth — they’d like to bring in more. Click here for their donations page.