During July AFSC will launch a new Israel and Palestine focused newsletter. The newsletter will be topical and will come out approximately three times each month.
The first issue of the newsletter will introduce a monthly topic and will include a link to new AFSC background resources or other materials related to that month’s topic. Topics we plan to address this year include forced displacement, settlements, Gaza, BDS, movement and access issues, and more. An example of what you might expect to receive as a first message each month and a link to a new resource on popular resistance are both included below.
The second monthly message will be an action alert. These alerts will contain two parts. The first part of the message will include information about BDS campaigns or other grassroots actions that you can join or support. The second part of the message will link to an immediate action you can take to push for congressional action and/or changes in US policy.
Over the course of the next year AFSC, along with many other organizations, will be sending out action alerts every “third Thursday,” so that members of Congress hear consistently from constituents who support a just peace in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Our newsletter action alerts will be coordinated with this larger group action.
The third message each month will include resources or content developed by our staff and partners in Palestine and Israel. Check back here soon to access a slide show on Popular Resistance that we have developed to coordinate with our topic for June. Other audio/visual resources, stories, case studies, or similar materials will be developed each month.
Welcome to the new “Impact” Newsletter!
This month our focus is nonviolent and popular resistance in Palestine. To learn more about popular resistance click here.
I would like open by recounting the story of Mohammed Assaf. For those of you who haven’t heard about Mohammed, he is a 23 year old Palestinian refugee from the Khan Yunis Camp in Gaza. Earlier this year he decided to audition for the new Arab Idol TV program which held open tryouts in Cairo. Despite not having the permits needed to exit Gaza, Mohammed begged, bribed and persisted until he was eventually let across the Rafah crossing from Gaza into Egypt. However, when he eventually arrived in Cairo he found that he was too late; the gates to the hotel where the auditions were being held were closed. Undeterred Mohammed climbed over the hotel gate and convinced the hotel security to let him into the room where registered contestants were waiting before auditioning. Once in the room he faced another hurdle. He didn’t have a contestant number. Seeing his chance slipping away, Mohammed broke out singing and another Palestinian contestant gave Mohammed his number saying that Mohammed had a real chance of winning. Later this week Mohammed will appear in the show’s finale as one of the final three contestants.
So what does Mohammed’s story have to do with resistance? While Mohammed has expressed solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on air and clearly articulated his national pride, he isn’t pushing a boycott campaign. He isn’t on hunger strike. He isn’t part of an activist group or social movement. In short, he hasn’t engaged in any of the protest methods that conform to traditional “Western” views of what nonviolent protest looks like, nor in any recent Palestinian popular resistance actions – BDS, village protests, anti wall activism, protest villages – which have gained attention in the US.
I recount Mohammed’s story because, while resistance in Palestine often does take one of the more traditional forms mentioned above, it is important to remember that for most Palestinians simply pursuing their dreams and living normal lives despite the occupation is resistance.
Theirs is the daily resistance of laborers who circumvent checkpoints to find work, of families who build homes despite being denied building permits and knowing that their homes will probably be destroyed, of villagers who remain on their land despite being denied access to water, electricity, health and education services, and other basic needs.
Theirs is the resistance of all of the people, like Mohammed, who refuse to accept and cooperate with the discriminatory policies and laws that were put in place to limit their freedoms and futures.
To learn more about nonviolent Palestinian resistance to occupation, check out this new background paper AFSC has just produced.
AFSC also just finished an exciting speaking tour with Palestinian activist Abir Kopty who spoke to audiences around the US about Palestinian popular resistance and BDS. Articles and interviews from her tour can be found here and here.
Tomorrow we will send out an action alert with additional information on what you can do to support nonviolent pushes for change in Palestine and Israel, and later this month we will share with you additional visual resources on popular resistance in Palestine that we have developed with partners in Palestine.
Thank you for joining us in this new endeavor and we look forward to hearing from you.