With Palestine, For Peace

Brisbane 1/8/2014

On Saturday August 17th, thousands of Israelis came out in force in Tel Aviv to call for continued dialogue and a diplomatic solution to end the conflict in Gaza.  Wikileaks has revealed Israel's long term strategy will continue to be economically and militarily devastating to the region and it's citizens, intentionally keeping them on the edge of a humanitarian crisis. Since July 8, over 1900 Palestinian civilians have been killed as a result of Israeli strikes.

In Brisbane, Australia hundreds marched in solidarity with Palestine on July 20th and again on August 1st to join the world to call for an end to Israel's occupation and current wave of attacks .

Photo credit: TEZZA

Brisbane 20/7/2014

The rally cries on both days addressed Israel's political alliance with Australia, (TONY ABBOT YOU CAN'T HIDE, YOU'RE SUPPORTING GENOCIDE), the larger occupation (FROM THE RIVER TO THE SEA, PALESTINE WILL BE FREE) and the brutality of the recent attacks on UN run schools in the region (ISRAEL-USA, HOW MANY KIDS DID YOU KILL TODAY?).

When the cry came for "DOWN, DOWN ISRAEL" myself and a few others fell silent. For my part, I refuse to call out for the downfall of any people, no matter what military action is perpetrated by their government. That may have been the most negative slogan used, but the words that rang the loudest as the march carried on were:

In our thousands, in our millions, we are all Palestinians. 

Photo credit: TEZZA
Brisbane 20/7/14

We want a life free of violence. We want to live without the weight of fear and intimidation as the territory we know as our home is occupied and shrunken, year by year.  

The majority of the general public in countries allied with Israel will not speak out against the occupation or Israel's current offensive. Mainstream Canadians and Australians have traditionally felt too ill-informed on the deep religious and political history involved to even commit to writing a letter to a representative, or signing a petition. Politicians, media figures and academics have witheld their opinion in fear of being accused of anti-semitism, or supporting terrorists. Yet over the last two months, these attitudes have begun to change.

The crowd that walked through the Brisbane's downtown held a large representation of the city's Muslim community and young activists, but there were also many that were not unlike your parents or mine. They didn't carry signs, but they lent their numbers and their voice. As images of children wounded or dead from confirmed Israeli military action  have flooded the nightly news and social media, people are seeing their own kids, nephews or nieces in the faces of Palestinian children. Like myself, they may not be attached to any political group, but they can no longer be silent while our government allies itself with perpetrators of atrocities like these.

The Arab Spring demonstrated there was great power in how social media can affect conflict in the Middle EastIn that case, ideas and otherwise suppressed information needed to keep flowing to connect people to waves of uprisings, and reinforce that they were many, and united they could create change. They acted en masse and found out where to join with others while having confidence in numbers and solidarity. So when we consider the Palestinian occupation, how can social media be best used to ignite activism around the world, and find ways to keep peace in the region?

One ray of hope was the 2012 Israel Loves Iran campaign, where a simple and brilliant initiative created by one man, helped unite Israelis in defiance against their country's political agenda. Civilians came together, sharing memes and working online to subvert nuclear threats and declare to their 'enemy' that they held no hostility towards their neighbours.  I have been heartened to find Israelis and Palestinians (Israel loves Palestine / Palestine loves Israel) are reviving the movement.

The current ceasefire was meant to end tomorrow night, Monday August 18th. I encourage you to take part in any small way you can to support peace in the region. Whatever your beliefs on this issue, the children of Palestine do not deserve to suffer for the actions of Hamas.

Related Links

A brilliant documentary following seven Palestinian and Israeli children as they talk about their lives and explain how they see each other and the conflict in the Middle-East.

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