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Take Action for Peace and Justice

in Palestine/Israel


People often ask me at my talks, "What can I do to help?" There are many things you can do:

    1. Get Informed

        If you're here, you're off to a good start. My Further Reading page has a huge list of books, articles, links, and resources that can help you navigate the realities in Israel/Palestine. My book was also written to be a good place to start.

        It may feel at first like jumping into the deep end with sharks, but we all had to start somewhere. I started at zero at age 23. It took a while to feel like I was walking on anything resembling solid ground, but it was well worth it. There are few more fascinating universities of human nature than learning about this conflict.

        As world citizens -- especially those of us in the US and Europe (and Israel) -- we also have a lot of responsibility for what happens in Israel/Palestine. The US sends Israel well over $3 billion per year in aid, Europe underwrites the cost of the occupation, and both are strong and uncritical trading partners with the Israeli economy.

        I believe, after much research and soul-searching, that allowing Israel to maintain and entrench its occupation is akin to letting a friend drink and drive. (A lot more Israeli soldiers die these days from suicide and accidents than combat.) And in this case, drive over an entire civilian population. It's not good for anyone.

    2. Visit Palestine!

        There's absolutely nothing like seeing it for yourself, if you can. I've never met anyone who has regretted visiting -- and most have said it was one of the defining moments of their lives. I don't know how else to say it. It's an experience like nothing else in the world. My Visit Palestine page has some advice, pointers, and contacts.

    3. Inform Others

        Whether you've visited Israel/Palestine in person or just through your reading, your voice matters. Share with others what you've been learning. Give them a copy of my book (it's written with beginners in mind) or share my Further Reading page.

        If you see something incorrect, one-sided, or out of context in the news, think about writing a comment (if comments are allowed) or Letter to the Editor to correct them.

        If you see your Senator or Congressman promoting one-sided legislation that is damaging to both Israel and Palestinians, give them a call or write them a letter and let them know you notice and do not approve.

    4. Boycott Companies that Profit from the Occupation

        In 2005, Palestinian civil society called upon the world to apply Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions until Israel complies with international law and grants equal rights to all -- a parallel to the boycotts that helped bring down the Apartheid regime in South Africa.

        Companies that profit from the occupation include SodaStream, Ahava (Dead Sea beauty products), Sabra and Tribe hummus, Caterpillar, Elbit Systems, Northrup Grumman, and Motorola. Learn more at Who Profits, BDS Movement, and Stolen Beauty.

    5. Join and/or Support Organizations that are Active on the Issue

        Thankfully these days, there are countless organizations doing excellent work to bring Israel's human rights violations to light and work for peace and justice for all. This is just a sample:

        • US Campaign to End the Occupation
          A national coalition of more than 400 groups

        • Students for Justice in Palestine
          Active on many US and Canadian campuses

        • Jewish Voice for Peace
          A nationwide group with local chapters -- they do amazing, effective work

        • Friends of Sabeel
          A Christian ecumenical organization seeking justice and peace in the Holy Land through non-violence and education

        • American Friends Service Committee
          A Quaker organization that does excellent, principled work for peace

        • Adalah
          Legal Center defending Palestinian citizens’ rights in Israel

        • Alternative Information Center
          A joint Palestinian-Israeli organisation promoting justice, equality and peace for Palestinians and Israelis

        • Amnesty International
          International Human Rights Protection

        • Badil
          Resource Center for Palestinian Residency & Refugee Rights

        • Breaking the Silence
          Testimonies of former Israeli soldiers

        • Challenging Christian Zionism
          Christians committed to Biblical Justice

        • Code Pink
          A women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end US funded wars and occupations, to challenge militarism globally, and to redirect our resources into health care, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities.

        • Human Rights Watch
          Defending human rights worldwide. I have used their reports extensively in my research and writing

        • Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
          An Israeli organization that exposes and struggles against the cruel, almost always unnecessary, and dangerous Israeli practice of demolishing Palestinian homes

        • MIFTAH
          Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue & Democracy

        • Palestine Remembered
          Pictures, stories, and documentation from Palestine, including before 1948

        • PASSIA
          Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs

        • Stop the Wall
          By PENGON (Palestinian Environmental NGO Network)

        • Tree of Life
          Established by The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, CT to provide cross-cultural travel experiences, interfaith conferences and educational opportunities to help participants become more enlightened and engaged in making this a more just and peaceful world

        • UN OCHA
          United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

        • Zochrot
          Israelis raising awareness about the Nakba

        • More groups

        • Another list of groups


        There's no shortage of things you can do to get involved and help make the situation better. Truth is a one-way valve; thousands of people at any given moment are learning about Palestine while very few are un-learning. Activists who campaigned for decades against Apartheid in South Africa are astonished at how quickly the BDS movement is growing. US public opinion still favors Israel, but most of that support is weak and can be swayed if people are given the right information in a format they can understand and assimilate into their view of the world.

        It feels sometimes like the occupation will never end, like the American public will never wake up, like the Israeli government, army, and lobby are all-powerful. This feeling is especially oppressive in the West Bank and Gaza, in the shadows of massive walls, mammoth settlements, and all-seeing drones and sniper towers. And in Washington, where defying the Israel lobby can still cost you a promotion or even your job.

        But five years before Apartheid fell, if someone had suggested the regime would be gone in five years, he or she would have been advised to sober up. Two years before the Berlin Wall came down, it felt like a permanent fact of life. A year before the Soviet Union dissolved, it was a global superpower.

        Situations that are fundamentally unjust and unsustainable have a way of collapsing unexpectedly. In the meantime, we have work to do.



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Copyright 2012, Pamela J. Olson

You are welcome to contact me -- pamolson @ gmail dot com