A young man in Gaza carries a small child in his arms through the rubble of buildings destroyed by Israeli forces. Photo by Quds News Network.
Defund Israeli Genocide and Colonialism: 8 Tips for Getting Involved
By Kate Khair and Lara Kilani
Right now, Palestinians in Gaza are grappling with the horrific reality imposed by Israel’s siege and constant bombing. As the international community rises up in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, as well as those of us in Palestine, many wonder what they can do after the demonstrations disperse. We know that a ceasefire alone will not make Gaza or Palestine free. Nonetheless, before reading on, allies should begin by reaching out to their representatives to demand an immediate ceasefire, as well as an end to the siege on Gaza, the implementation of the right of return for all Palestinian refugees, and the decolonization of Palestine. Be sure to call and send them emails daily to build consistent pressure.
Beyond this essential call, we have outlined a few potential action items that solidarity partners can take to support Palestinians in our struggle for liberation.
Some of these action items are long-term goals and lifestyle changes revolving around education and openness in the face of censorship. Others are more specific suggestions of actions one might take, personally or as part of a group.
1. Educate yourself.
Regarding Palestine, zionist settler colonialism, and indigenous resistance, much of our history has been obscured or hidden not only by Israel, but by those who support colonialism and imperialism today. Most people don’t know it in detail, and that isn’t their fault. You don’t have to be an expert in anything to see right from wrong. But it is good to learn about zionism, settler colonialism, Palestinian history and indigenous resistance because the implications and connections stretch globally.
Because so much of Palestinian history has been intentionally obscured, this means that daily events are often hidden, not reported by mainstream news, or misrepresented. While engaging in Palestine solidarity actions, you can learn the basics from the rich content provided by Palestinian resources, such as Decolonize Palestine and Let’s Talk Palestine, which share sources and a podcast. You can also check out these reading lists for more suggestions by the Palestinian Youth Movement and Decolonize Palestine. Academic authors on colonialism also have much to offer, such as Fayez Sayegh, Ghassan Kanafani, and Frantz Fanon.
2. Educate others.
We can’t change the world alone — we need our communities to join us in the fight for justice. We are also responsible for each other. That means having difficult conversations with your family, friends, colleagues, and so on, in addition to confronting politicians and elected representatives. It’s uncomfortable, and it can require a lot of humility — no one knows the answer to every question off the top of their head — but at the same time, no one can carry this weight alone. By educating others, we build communities for ourselves that make the struggle less overwhelming. We also create mechanisms of accountability.
3. Speak out.
For a hundred years, Palestinians have been systematically silenced, imprisoned, tortured, attacked, and murdered for speaking the truth about our community, history, families, and even our personal experiences. Brilliant Palestinians have had their jobs taken away from them for standing by their principles. As the pressure to maintain the status quo works to silence Palestinians and allies, flatten Palestinian resistance, and tear apart solidarity efforts, particularly through intimidation, raise your voice. We must stand by each other, insist on truth and dignity, and refuse to be cowed into silence.
4. Take action.
It’s not enough to just talk about Palestine and the struggle for liberation or to educate others—though these are essential steps. Action needs to be taken. This could be through holding demonstrations in front of embassies, representatives’ and politicians’ offices, or protesting in front of the buildings of companies supporting Israeli settler colonialism. This could also mean organizing events, banner drops, vigils, or building archives of information or shorter materials to distribute in your local community. Below are some examples of meaningful actions you can take.
a. Join meaningful and impactful campaigns.
Often, when we think about liberation, the goal seems enormous and beyond reach. But we can begin with campaigns in our communities, taking on options that are winnable and impactful, and change the world to start to reflect justice. There are many ways that we can trace connections between our international communities and those in Palestine to begin to undo zionist infrastructure in our communities. This can be targeting the funding of Israeli settler organizations, as has been done with the Defund Racism campaign, or Palestine Action, which directly disrupts companies involved in Israeli military violence.
You can also consider building your own campaigns, such as withholding donations from your elected officials or their parties until they meet certain demands, such as supporting a ceasefire and calling for an end to the siege on Gaza. Never forget the power that you can exercise locally, and find the most effective ways you can both win your campaign and have a direct impact in Palestine.
A simple way to take action for Palestine is to follow the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel. Check out the BDS guide to think about which companies near you are relevant and engage your community in a boycott of organizations and companies that are supporting and investing in Israel. These could be anything from food companies like Starbucks, McDonald’s, Papa Johns, KFC, Pizza Hut, or tech companies like HP, Oracle, Google, Amazon, and many others.
c. Challenge your representatives.
Your representatives work for you, and speak in your name nationally and internationally. Neither you nor they should ever forget that. This means that you have a right and responsibility to demand that they meet a certain threshold of accountability to those they represent. One way you can immediately demand that your representative join the call for a ceasefire if you are in the US or Canada is by sending a letter pledging not to financially support them or their political party until they publicly and meaningfully support this demand. We must use all of the resources at our disposal, including our own financial contributions, to make politicians stand on the side of justice.
Beyond this tool, whether you want to cultivate a close relationship with your elected representatives or an antagonistic one, find what is effective and use it. This can include regularly contacting their offices to express your opinion, having conversations with staffers about specific issues, organizing sit-ins and protests to procure a statement from them, and so on.
5. Join local groups and commit to long-term solidarity.
We know that the battle for justice and the process of decolonization doesn’t happen overnight. What Palestinians need goes beyond the solidarity of days and weeks when the colonial violence is at its peak, as it is right now. Palestinians need solidarity in our anti-colonial struggle in the long term.
One great way to do this is by finding and joining a local group in your community that aligns with these values and meaningfully challenges the structures underpinning Israeli colonialism. If one doesn’t exist, you can create one. Local groups can keep each other motivated, organize demonstrations, lead local campaigns, educate the larger community, organize events to raise awareness and build power over time to sway local representatives.
6. Don’t pay taxes that contribute to genocide.
If you know your taxes are going to support genocide or the occupation of Palestinian people, and you want to take a calculated risk to make a stand, refuse to pay your taxes. The US government invests around 10 million dollars a day in Israel, mostly in military aid, in the promotion of more apartheid, killing, displacement, and land-grab. Organize a national campaign to refuse to pay taxes to the government until it completely stops supporting the Israeli government, army, and organizations. Be loud and proud; be as public as you safely can be so that the government cannot target individuals but instead must address a community of citizens refusing to fund genocide.
7. Don’t share propaganda.
Since October 7, Israeli media and media coming out of colonial and imperial power centers have peddled fake news: babies killed and beheaded, rape accusations, Hamas rockets bombing al Ahli hospital, Hamas headquarters under al Shifa hospital, schools, and so on. This propaganda only serves Israeli interests and distracts from the ongoing genocide of 2.2 million people living in an open-air prison. It is imperative not to take for granted every piece of information that Western media spreads, as some journalists report things that they have only heard and report them as facts when they come from Israeli sources without any verification. On the other hand, they treat news from Palestinian sources as untrustworthy and provide qualifications, if they report it at all.
How to spot fake news? Consult the Arab Fact-Checkers Network, which works towards fostering transparent fact-checking and combating fake news in the Arab region.
If you are still determining if something is verified news or not, wait to make up your mind before sharing it.
8. Invest meaningfully — time, resources, money, effort.
Solidarity in struggle means sacrifice. Sacrifice can come in time, money, other resources, effort, etc. When it comes to making donations giving your time or energy to an organization, make sure that your investment is going to have the desired outcome. This may mean different things for charities as opposed to advocacy organizations.
Both types of organizations can easily be researched, as both usually publish annual reports. You can also find analyses on charities and reports about how effective and transparent they are. If you want to donate to aid in Gaza, there are many credible platforms. Here is one.
You can also donate to Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund, Médecins Sans Frontières, and many more.
When it comes to advocacy organizations that claim to work on behalf of the Palestinian people or in solidarity, take your time to consider the impact of the organizations’ work. Read their annual reports. Read about which campaigns they support or have organized, and what the tangible outcomes have been — not only wherever they are based, but in Palestine itself.