Photo courtesy of Mahmoud Ajour on the Electronic Intifada website.
With representatives like Rashida Tlaib and Illhan Omar speaking proudly about their unwavering support for Palestine, it seems the Holy Land is a major spotlight in today’s political conversations. For many, especially those who come from Christian backgrounds, the occupation can seem like a deeply complex issue. I once heard a friend say that, “the occupation is a complex issue, but also…it isn’t.” For those of us in the west, who are distant from the realities of the occupation, it’s difficult to know where to begin the journey to work towards justice in Palestine.
One thing that may be helpful in the beginning stages is to make connections between Palestine and more local issues. To start, here are a few:
- Flint, Michigan, has not had clean drinking water since 2014. Ninety-seven percent of Gaza’s freshwater supply is inconsumable.
- Palestinian men living in Palestine are arrested at a similar rate to that of African American men in the US.
- As political tensions in the US rise, the police force is becoming increasingly more militarized. The US has seen collaboration between the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and various police departments in the US, including Chicago, Baltimore, and St. Louis — all police departments with a history of terrorizing communities of color.
- After the acquittal of the officer who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Palestinian activists were communicating with Ferguson protestors over Twitter about how to prepare for and treat injuries from tear gas.
- Palestinians throughout occupied territories, and especially in Gaza, have protested in the Great March of Return for the right to return to their homes, which they’ve been displaced from for generations. This is not unlike the history of colonialism in North America, which displaced and killed entire populations of Indigenous people.
It’s alarming to make connections like these, but moving to see solidarity from movements around the world. From Northern Ireland to Palestine to Ferguson to the US/Mexico border, people around the globe are rising in solidarity to seek justice.
To actively and nonviolently work toward liberating the oppressed was a clear call from Jesus. We cannot forget like Palestinians today, and over the last 71 years, Jesus lived under occupation. As people who follow Jesus, we have a direct call to engage with the oppression of marginalized people and communities in an active way.
For those looking for organizations committed to working for justice in Palestine, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT, www.cpt.org), Wi’am (www.alaslah.org), and Sabeel (sabeel.org) are organizations rooted in active faith and nonviolence. If you are interested in working for justice in Palestine, consider joining one of the upcoming CPT delegations and OEP’s Palestine Justice Community of Practice (www.facebook.com/groups/OEP.PalestineJustice).
By Dominique Chew, Palestine Justice Organizing Intern