In contrast just let us remind a quote from David Ben-Gurion, former Israeli prime minister, who commented on Jewish pogrom in Germany in 1938 (known as Kristallnacht), as quoted in “Ben-Gurion and the Palestinian Arabs : From Peace to War” (1985) by Shabtai Teveth, p. 66:
“If I knew it was possible to save all [Jewish] children of Germany by their transfer to England and only half of them by transferring them to Eretz-Yisrael [Land of Israel], I would choose the latter—-because we are faced not only with the accounting of these [Jewish] children but also with the historical accounting of the Jewish People.”
We doubt that this way of thinking about human lives and politics has changed much since then.
So, does it make us uncritical pro-Palestinians? No, it doesn’t. Same as in case of Israel, we are friends of the people, but criticize the government, which in case of Palestinian Authority is corrupted, doesn’t represent its people and breaks human rights.
How can you help or get involved??
It seems the Palestinians are in a really difficult situation there, oppressed by Israel and their own authorities – so how can we help? How can you help?
1. Material help – not always a good solution
One way could be material help, one could think. Although it can be helpful, in this case it is not the most important thing. Because of corruption in the Palestinian Authority it is quite likely that money will not reach the official recipient at all, or will be spent by incompetent people. And there are things more important than money.
2. Being a conscious recipient of medial content, searching for information by our own
Most often what we see or read in popular media shows only part of the complex reality in the Middle East. Trying to deepen knowledge, dig out historical facts, read quotations from politicians from bot sides of the conflict, and asking people who lived in Gaza or West Bank can bring you closer to the real image of the situation there.
3. Spreading and sharing what you know about the situation in the region
It is crucial to spread the information about the real situation in the West Bank, since it is not shown in the media.
4. Boycott of Israeli products
Another way advised by some people is boycott of Israel and Israeli products or goods in order to achieve ending of apartheid, just as it was done in South Africa. After a series of political, economic, cultural, sport and academic boycotts of Republic of South Africa politics was changed there and apartheid came to an end in 1990.
Boycott supporters say that if awareness of Palestinian problem increases around the world and people start to put pressure on Israel by boycotting its products, finally this attitude will reach governments worldwide. The desirable consequence would be decrease in trading and dealing with Israel, which will have no other choice than to end the apartheid and respect human rights and international law, notoriously being broken nowadays. But first – as it was said – world has to know what is going on there. Details about boycott can be found for instance on the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) website: http://www.bdsmovement.net (tab: campaigns), or Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boycotts_of_Israel. Main rule is very simple: don’t buy Israeli products (their bar code starts with 729) and don’t buy products of companies that gain profit from abuses committed in the West Bank (such as Veolia, Volvo, Alstom, Agrexo and so on). List of such companies can be found on web site mentioned above. A significant sigh of the boycott power is this year’s law passed by Israeli Knesset that makes the call for a boycott on Israel or Israeli settlements a civil wrong. The law was heavily criticized in Israel by both left-wing and Arab political parties. Israeli leftist and human rights organizations also criticized the law, and launched a public campaign against it as it was stated to violate basic democratic principles and freedom of speech.
5. Travelling to the West Bank, meeting Palestinian people
Since Palestinians cannot travel freely, we have to go to Palestine to get to know them. However, most of the tourists visiting the Holy Land never experience any signs of occupation and never get to know any Palestinians. They normally use common, commercial travel agencies. Why not to try alternative, conscious touring? You will be able to see how the real life in Palestine looks like. Obviously we didn’t have to use such travel agencies organizing ‘alternative tours’, but we heard about them and saw one in Jerusalem and one in Hebron. You can also search them in the Internet, for instance Alternative Tourism Group http://www.atg.ps/ or Alternative Tours http://www.alternativetours.ps/.
6. Supporting projects involving European and Palestinian youth
During our visit in Bethlehem Aida Refugee Camp we met a man coordinating work of the Leeja Youth Center (www.lajee.org). They organize many events to support local children and teens in the Refuge Camp, however they are also successful in realizing a brilliant idea (from our point of view) of introducing Palestinian youth to the people from other countries. How do they do it? For example they organize excursions of the Palestinian youths for invitation of foreign schools or other institutions or even private people and show performance of Dabkeh (traditional Palestinian dance) or exhibitions of photographs taken by the kids from the camp. They also organize Human Rights Workshops and simply make possible for international people to get to know Palestinians, and vice versa. Leeja Youth Center invites also foreigners to come to Bethlehem Refugee Camp to work with the local children.
Since Leeja Center does not have any cooperation with Poland yet, we are thinking about organizing the trip for at least 10 Palestinian children to Poland, for a week or two. The main goal would be to accommodate them in Polish families so both sides could learn something about each other. Isn’t it a great idea??
7. Go volunteering to the West Bank!
Yes, we know that it is not always easy but… it is worthy! We would warmly recommend this way of support, especially with one of organisations we proved to be reliable like International Solidarity Movement (ISM – http://palsolidarity.org), or Jordan Valley Solidarity (JVS – http://jordanvalleysolidarity.org). This method is definitely most laborious, time and energy consuming but also very satisfactory, we assure!