Edited 18th October 2023 in light of the current conflict in Israel and Gaza
I originally wrote this post back in 2021. However with the current conflict in Israel and Gaza, the post has seen a sudden increase in traffic. But whilst it has some great resources already listed, there was nothing specifically about what is happening now. So I’ve edited the post to include new resources specifically about this, which you will find at the top of this post. The original post and resources can be found further down the page.
As always, please note that this is a non-exhaustive list and I am just one very sick person trying to share resources that I have personally found helpful in understanding this situation. Use it as a springboard for your own research.
This BBC Newsbeat article gives a very quick overview of what is a very long and complicated history. It is a good place to start if you have very little knowledge of this area.
This page by the Council on Foreign Relations gives a really thorough introduction to Hamas, including the group’s origins and development, and why this current attack is different to what has gone before.
This fact sheet by the Institute for Middle East Understanding explains who makes up the current Israeli government and their stance on various policies.
This fact sheet by ACLED provides detailed information about the current conflict, with timelines and maps to help you fully process what is happening.
If you are feeling helpless and wondering what to do, Global Citizen has listed some international charities that are working on the ground to help civilians affected by the conflict. And this page from Amnesty International provides you with plenty of points you can make when writing to your political representatives.
It is also really important to note that there has been a rise in both antisemitism and islamophobia around the world. It is vital that when talking about this conflict you remember that Hamas is not representative of Palestinians and Muslims, and the Israeli government is not representative of Israelis and Jewish people.
Original post begins:
No matter who or where you are, you must have seen the news about increasing conflict in Palestine this month. But, if you’re anything like me, you may have found yourself lacking the information and knowledge to understand what is actually happening and why it is so important. And trying to learn about something like this can feel completely overwhelming, because there is just so much to learn. Which is why I decided to write this post, gathering up all the resources I have found useful.
This will not be an exhaustive list, because I have only just scratched the surface myself. And there are people far more qualified to write about this than I am. But I know what it’s like to feel confused by the news because you were simply never taught the history of the area, as well as understanding how hard it can be to educate yourself without completely burning out.
This is especially important for my fellow chronically ill and disabled readers – last year I triggered a major relapse that lasted over half a year because I was trying to learn about racism and ableism and all that was happening in our world and did not pace myself or allow myself to rest. I was so aghast by my lack of awareness that I threw myself into research and crashed spectacularly, meaning I then couldn’t do anything for months. And so whilst I am completely committed to educating myself and raising awareness of things, this all comes with a caveat. Work at your own pace, take your time to absorb the information you need to – I’d rather you take more time and be able to talk about it in an informed way without making yourself sick than pressuring yourself to speak out as soon as you can. We cannot stay silent, but we can pace ourselves and ensure we are well enough (and well informed enough) to speak up.
Resources that explain what is happening
Vox has produced a guide called Everything You Need To Know About Israel-Palestine, which covers lots of details in very short, easy to read sections. This was where I first started to fill in the gaps in my knowledge.
This Linktree page is absolutely full of links to help you further expand your knowledge, including interactive timelines of both Palestine and The Nakba, various documentaries on Palestine, and sites explaining Zionism.
John Green gives a very good overview of the political history of Palestine in this Crash Course, particularly emphasising the British government’s role in creating the conflict that exists today.
The Crash Course channel is aimed more at younger learners (I think), and so if that’s not your kind of thing then you may find this one by The History Channel more helpful. It also covers the religious significance of the area a bit, which is more than the Crash Course one does.
This report from Channel 4 News by Akram Salhab really brings home how much Britain’s colonial past has shaped Palestine, and yet how little the British people seem to even know about this.
This very short video by TRT, which is the Turkish public broadcaster, shows how the distribution of the land has changed over the decades.
This video by TLDR News explains what is happening in Palestine right now and what led to this.
Obviously there are so many more resources out there, but I hope that these will start you on your journey. I have personally found them very helpful, and will try to continue adding others as I find them. Please feel free to suggest others to me in the comments.
Social media accounts to follow
Diversifying your social media feed can be one of the most educational and informative things you ever do. By following people who are naturally talking about the things you don’t know much about you begin to learn things as you see them pop up on your feed. It also provides you with a way to start speaking out about what is happening, because you can (and should) amplify the voices of those who have lived experiences and/or are well-versed in what is happening. Share the things that you see and learn from so that your friends and followers can see and learn from them too.
Here are some that have been recommended to me, or which I have found useful myself. Again, this is far from an exhaustive list, and I hope to add to it over time. Please feel free to recommend other accounts for me to check out.
PaliRoots writes that their mission is, “to bring awareness to the world about the Palestinian culture by crafting specialty products inspired by its people and identity”. They have a blog and can also be found across social media at Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. They even have a blog post listing other social media accounts to follow.
I’m worried about Antisemitism
Antisemitism is, of course, a really big problem and must not be underestimated. However, criticism of what the Israeli government is currently doing in Palestine is not the same as criticising all Jewish people. Please do not let your fear of racism towards one group of people stop you from calling out the racism towards another group. What is happening in Palestine right now is genocide and ethnic cleansing and needs to be called out. But you need to do so by holding those who are actually carrying it out to account and not conflating the Israeli government with all Israelis and/or all Jewish people. And you must certainly not use antisemitic language to do so.
Anne Frank House has written about how criticism of Israel is not inherently antisemitic, however very often the discourse crosses the line into antisemitism by blaming all Jewish people for the acts of the Israeli government, comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, or using antisemitic symbols and language. The video is well worth a watch too, but you need to click on the CC at the bottom right and click English subtitles as they won’t show up automatically.
Take your time, educate yourself, and speak up!
I do hope that this post has been useful to you. As I have said throughout, please let me know in the comments if you know of other resources I should be checking out. I am still trying to wrap my head around all of this myself. Nobody expects you to understand it all completely, especially not overnight. But please, whatever you do, take some time to educate yourself on what is happening and speak up about it. I’m reminded of the poem I wrote several years back in response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis in which these words appear:
Injustice and cruelty,
pain, famine, and war;
when will we stand up
and shout out “NO MORE“?
When poverty hits us?
When death closes in?
When it happens to us?
When will we begin?
The world needs our voices,
our neighbours need love;
Wouldn’t we want the same
were it happening to us?
Seriously, wouldn’t you want someone to speak up for you? Then speak up for others. Please. Every voice matters. Whether that is through talking to your kids and your neighbours or speaking up online, just use your voice. Thank you.