How to show genuine solidarity with the Palestinian people
The world on Monday celebrated the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The date of Nov. 29 is marked every year as the anniversary of the UN General Assembly’s 1947 adoption of the “Partition Plan for Palestine,” or Resolution 181, which intended to establish an Arab state and a Jewish state.
The day of solidarity traditionally provides an opportunity for the international community to focus its attention on the fact that the question of Palestine remains unresolved and that the Palestinian people have yet to attain their inalienable rights as defined by the UNGA. These are: The right to self-determination without external interference, the right to national independence and sovereignty, and the right to return to their homes and property from which they were displaced.
The often-repeated question by many supporters is how? How can they show solidarity with the Palestinian people? Here are some practical ideas for showing solidarity.
On the political level, we need to move governments from lip service to actual forceful decisions. Parliaments in most European countries have voted to recognize the Palestinian side of the two-state solution, yet only Sweden has been brave enough to officially do so. If countries are afraid of the likely Israeli backlash, they can see that Tel Aviv has renewed its warm relations with Stockholm despite initially breaking all ties.
The message is clear and the Israelis know they cannot live without international relations for too long. Some European countries prefer to make the recognition in unison. This would be great, but with the current Israeli government on record as opposing any negotiations with the Palestinians, there is no added value to waiting. They must recognize Palestine on the borders of 1967 or on the borders that the UN approved in 1947.
On the public level, it is important to strengthen solidarity with the Palestinian people by encouraging twinning agreements between cities and organizations, by visiting Palestine, and by adopting a sector of Palestinian life and economy.
On the economic level, there is much that can be done both with Palestine and with those who support Palestinians. Investing in Palestine, buying Palestinian, and staying at Palestinian hotels and visiting Palestinian eateries are a must for anyone, whether on touristic or pilgrimage visits to the region.
Furthermore, organizations and companies that have dared to challenge the powerful pro-Israel lobby must be supported. Unilever, which owns Ben & Jerry’s, has lost 6 percent of its stock value since the ice-cream brand’s July decision to stop selling in illegal Israeli settlements. Anyone with a stock portfolio can simply advise their brokers to buy Unilever, thus negating efforts to economically damage any company that dares to challenge the pro-Israeli narrative.
On the faith-based level, much can be done to improve relations with the faithful in Palestine, both Muslim and Christian. As we approach the Christmas season, it is important to remind the world that the birthplace of Jesus is under Israeli occupation and that Palestinian Christians are a vibrant element in the Palestinian national movement. One group of Palestinian Christians, Kairos Palestine, has put out a call for action with specific activities. They can be seen at cryforhope.org.
Finally, while Palestinians need political support to end the ugly and illegal occupation and colonial settlement, much needs to be done to correct the narrative of Israeli and pro-Israeli propagandists, who continuously shake off criticism of their occupation, house demolitions and human rights abuses by blaming Palestinians for not being forthcoming in negotiations.
Organizations and companies that have dared to challenge the powerful pro-Israel lobby must be supported.
For a change, the lip service to talks that the previous US administration had perfected has been replaced by an honest, yet wrong, public posture that has been publicly pronounced by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. After his most recent summit with US President Joe Biden, Bennett boasted to US Jewish groups that he told the leader of the free world that his government is not interested in talks with the Palestinians. So, the occupier now wants to keep the military occupation indefinitely while his government is practicing what has been described by Israeli and international human rights groups as an apartheid policy in the areas between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean.
The need to show solidarity with the Palestinian people should not be limited to one day. An international commitment to end this conflict, backed up by ongoing efforts, must be prioritized.
In the light of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, those under occupation appeal to their friends and supporters around the world to stand up against the evil of occupation throughout the year and genuinely support their demands for freedom and independence, for which many have paid with their lives.
Ending the occupation is the best way to show real solidarity with the people of Palestine.
- Daoud Kuttab is an award-winning Palestinian journalist and former Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University. Twitter: @daoudkuttab