Politics

Resources to Educate Yourself on Israel and Palestine

May 17, 2021
A Free Palestine March in Kensington, London. There are people wearing masks (because of Covid) and carrying placards saying Free Palestine.

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 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.

I will split this post into several sections, and you can access them by using the links below:

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, show 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.

The My Return Campaign is about the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland. You can follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Jewish Voice For Peace opposes anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, and anti-Arab bigotry and oppression. You can follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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.

And, of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without Al Jazeera, which is known for its unbiased reporting of world events. You can follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

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 Jews. 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 β€œNO MOREβ€œ?

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.

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