Once again the pressure cooker is erupting. Because if the pressure keeps getting turned up, that’s all pressure cookers can do.
Palestinians live in a pressure cooker that’s constructed and controlled by Israel. They are blockaded in Gaza. Walled off in the West Bank. Denied equal rights inside Israel. They are subjects of a system of control that exerts extreme pressure on their lives on a daily basis.
Every now and then that pressure gets ratcheted up even higher, as it has been recently with the threatened evictions of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem in Sheik Jarrah.
The images grabbing our attention and filling our screens right now are the horrific scenes of the Israeli bombing of Gaza – one of the most densely populated strips of land anywhere on earth.
But the terror is being felt everywhere.
Palestinians living in Israel as ‘Israeli-Arabs’ are being targeted throughout Israel. Palestinians living in East Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank are facing the tightening of the de-humanising apparatus of occupation – with its fences, walls, checkpoints, permits, house demolitions, illegal settlements and interrupted utilities.
The Palestinians have lived in the Holy Lands for hundreds of years. And since the founding of our little festival in the 1970s, we have done our best to tell their story, stand in solidarity with them, and amplify their struggle as best we can.
We know that there is complexity and nuance to this seemingly intractable situation. But that complexity, and anxiety about being branded anti-semitic, must not silence us.
We have many Palestinian friends and contacts in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza and they’re all calling for help right now. They are desperate.
We must speak up and act. We cannot remain silent. We have put together some resources below to help.
Please do what you can – talk about what’s happening on social media, write to your MPs, connect with organisations on the ground that work for peace and justice in Israel-Palestine, get your communities, colleges and churches to take a stand.
Here are three online opportunities you can be part of to understand more, ask questions and identify how to take effective action.
6pm Monday 17 May
Green Olive Tours – who organise tours of East Jerusalem – invite anyone wanting to know more about the situation and to ask questions.
Register for free here
6:30pm Tuesday 18 May
Our friends at Amos Trust have an online open webinar with Sami Awad in Bethlehem. It’s free, but you need to register beforehand. Sami is the director of the HolyLand Trust in Bethlehem and has spoke at Greenbelt many times. (He is pictured at the top of this email.)
10:30 am Saturday 22 May 2
Our friends at Kairos Palestine are inviting you to a day-long conference – Is Democracy Possible in Palestine Under Israeli Occupation?
Meeting ID: 890 8284 5178
Here are two films that we’d recommend right now to help you orientate to what’s going on and motivate you to respond and take action.
Abby Martin’s 2019 Empire Files film Gaza Fights For Freedom is available to watch in full for free right now on Youtube.
And the BAFTA-winning, Oscar-nominated short film The Present is streaming now on Netflix. You can watch a trailer here.
Travel to be with Palestinians is difficult right now. But here are just two inspirational organisations to visit for more information, tools and inspiration for action.
The image at the top of the blog is from a painting called The Survival of the Dove by Gazan artist Malak Mattar who is living back in Gaza with her family right now. You can see Malak’s work and support her through her Etsy shop here.