On Gaza and Israel
As we’ve been following the news of Gaza and Israel, our hearts ache for the people living in this region and their friends and families all over the world. We empathize with those who are the targets of racist, Islamophobic, and antisemitic violence, and realize our freedom is inextricably linked when we live in a country that exports hate and weapons worldwide.
Even as we read multiple statements and follow the news, we often feel stuck around what to say and how to act. What if we get it wrong? The situation is so complex, do we know enough? We don’t want to come across as oversimplifying. Yet these questions are exactly what we encourage people to push through in our work. Writing about this is uncomfortable and speaking up means taking a risk. Yet our silence would mean avoiding living into the values we hold.
We don’t have to know all the history and details to know that more violence will not solve the problem. Cultures Connecting supports Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP) and the many others calling for an immediate ceasefire. You too can take concrete action by calling legislators and demanding a ceasefire via the following options:
Jewish Voice for Peace: sends a scripted email to the President and your Representatives.
Action network: also helps you find your Representatives and sends pre-scripted emails.
Find your Representative: official site of the US Representatives where you enter your address, and it provides websites and contact information for your Representatives.
White House: provides a form you can complete to send an email directly to the White House.
5 Calls App: install this App on your phone to easily make calls to your Representatives and leave a message (they provide a script you can read).
The following are some resources to help you stay informed and take useful action:
Aparna Rae, Founder of Moving Beyond:
Educate ourselves on what's happening, to whom, and why. Read credible, verified sources. Start here on histories, POVs - Born in Gaza (Netflix), Exterminate All The Brutes (HBO), Farha (Netflix), Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harai (Book), The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Movie & Book)
Be aware that social media affects our ability to discuss complicated issues with empathy.
Be aware that Western media typically gives more opportunities to empathize with Israeli victims than Palestinians. This doesn’t mean Israeli victims don’t deserve our empathy.
Challenge the framing of the narrative, rather than the individuals’ pain at the center of the narrative. Avoid attacking individual people.
Avoid performative activism/flag waving/sports team activism to indicate we are rooting for the “right” team. Take concrete action instead.
Learn how to identify disinformation. You can find out by doing a simple Google search.
Pay attention to power dynamics when looking at international conflicts. Who has the power and resources to create the most harm to civilians? We must understand where oppression is and seek to center the voices to the oppressed.
Avoid attaching your personal identity to the actions of political groups. Doing so causes us to lose critical perspective.
Josh Paul, a State Department official from the bureau that oversees arms transfers to foreign nations, has resigned citing his objection to continued US military assistance to Israel and the long-term harm it will cause to the region. Read his resignation letter on his Linkedin profile.