Not That Complicated

101 information and resources to understand Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people.

Make sure to explore the other tracks of the curriculum: Freedom Bound: Resisting Zionism and White Supremacy and Together We Rise.

Many people are held back from taking a stand on the issue of Palestine/Israel by the common misconception that it is “complicated.” Here, we explain the steady continuation of the more than 100-year-old settler colonial project that is Zionism. Palestine 101: Not That Complicated can help folks both familiar and unfamiliar with the issue understand the ongoing process of Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine, and the legacy of Palestinian resistance to the colonization of their homeland.

Since 1967, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have lived under a brutal Israeli military occupation, which is among the most visible forms of its settler colonialism and apartheid. This occupation has included Jewish-only, illegal settlements built on stolen Palestinian land; military checkpoints; thousands of Palestinians imprisoned and killed by the Israeli army; theft and restriction of natural resources, tens of thousands of home demolitions; and more than one million olive trees uprooted. Israel’s actions since 1967 make clear that the occupation was never meant to be temporary. It is just the latest extension of Israel’s ethnic cleansing and subjugation of Palestinians, which continues to this day.

More than 2 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been living under a complete siege by Israel since 2007. This blockade of Gaza, which is enforced by both Israel and Egypt and backed by the US, denies Palestinians adequate food and potable water, makes it nearly impossible for Palestinians to receive medical treatment or travel abroad, and prevents Palestinians from operating power generating stations and sanitation systems at their needed capacities. In 2012, the UN released a report predicting that Gaza will be uninhabitable by 2020. In 2017, the UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities stated that the “unlivability threshold has been passed quite a long time ago.”

  • Fact Sheets, Links & More

    Gaza Unlocked provides first-hand accounts from Palestinians living in Gaza, information about the blockade, and opportunities to make a difference. The website is run by member group American Friends Service Committee.

    Obliterated Families is an award-winning multimedia web documentary that draws attention to the families from Gaza whose lives were shattered during the Israeli offensive in 2014. Blending together striking images, in-depth text, infographics, animations and short videos, the project is designed to bring the audience closer to the reality of life for Palestinians from the Gaza Strip. The site also includes a do it yourself exhibition.

    The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights is based in Gaza City and documents and investigates human rights violations.

    We Are Not Numbers is a platform to share the human stories behind the numbers in the news, written by Palestinian writers and artists from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon who team up with mentors from around the world.

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    Gaza in Context places Israel’s ongoing attacks on Palestinians in Gaza in the context of its project of settler colonialism.

    Video from member group Institute for Middle East Understanding.

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According to countless UN Security Council resolutions and the International Court of Justice in 2004, East Jerusalem is part of the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel in 1967. Its annexation by Israel is not recognized internationally. Israel’s policies there, including forced land acquisition and population transfer, are meant to change the composition of this Palestinian city and “Judaize” non-Jewish areas. More than 9,000 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem have been demolished and around 15,000 Palestinians have had their residency revoked. Meanwhile, there are now 200,000 Israeli settlers living in East Jerusalem.

More than 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes in the process of the creation of the state of Israel. Today there are more than 7 million Palestinian refugees waiting to exercise their right to return.

While hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were expelled during the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, 150,000 Palestinians remained in their homeland and were eventually granted Israeli citizenship. Today Palestinian citizens of Israel number 1.5 million, about 20 percent of Israel’s population. Despite being citizens, Palestinians face institutionalized discrimination through for example more than 50 laws that privilege Jews over non-Jews. Learn more about the myth of citizenship here.

  • Fact Sheets, Links & More
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    “Targeted Citizen” surveys discrimination against Palestinian citizens in Israel.

    Israel is seeking to demolish the Palestinian Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Naqab Desert in order to build a new Jewish town called Hiran on its ruins.

    How Israel’s facade of equality actually creates inequality in education for Palestinian citizens.

Since 1967, Israel has imprisoned or detained more than 800,000 Palestinians from the occupied territories. Around 70% of Palestinian families have had at least one relative detained. Palestinian prisoners and detainees have suffered from torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, and medical negligence. At least 200 Palestinian prisoners have been killed because of such actions.

Israel’s policies of detention and imprisonment are used as political tools to suppress resistance and to maintain control over Palestinian society. These policies are intended to obstruct the daily lives and social fabric of Palestinians and undermine their ability to oppose Israeli oppression by criminalizing basic political affiliation and activities and intimidating individuals and communities.

As of July 2017, more than 6,000 Palestinian political prisoners, including women and children, are being held in prisons located inside Israel, in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention. More than 400 are administrative detainees, a procedure that allows Israel to hold prisoners indefinitely on secret information without charging them or allowing them to stand trial.

  • Fact Sheets, Links & More

    Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association is a Palestinian non-governmental, civil institution that works to support Palestinian political prisoners.

    Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network is a network of organizers and activists, based in North America, working to build solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in their struggle for freedom.

    The No Way to Treat a Child campaign exposes the widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system.

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    Life On Hold – The Policy of Administrative Detention

    Detaining Dreams

Zionism is the political ideology behind establishing and maintaining a Jewish demographic majority in Palestine through the state of Israel and at the expense of the native Palestinian population. Early Zionist leaders understood that to manufacture a Jewish majority in Palestine, they would drive out the native Palestinian population and settle Jewish people in their place. This objective continues to guide Israeli policies, manifesting in ways that include a network of illegal Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank, the siege of the Gaza Strip, the ongoing displacement of Bedouins in the Naqab inside Israel, and the ban on return for millions of Palestinian refugees.

Zionism is, and always has been, a settler-colonial project. We highlight this in the graphic series below, “Zionism is Colonialism: In Their Own Words.” Israel commonly justifies its oppressive policies in the name of security, but these quotations from early Zionist leaders expose the reality of discrimination, dispossession, and exile of Palestinians necessary to have a Jewish state with an artificial Jewish majority in a land whose native population is not majority Jewish.

With this understanding, the common demand of Palestinians and others to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state can be understood as asserting Israel’s perceived right to continue its oppressive policies that maintain its Jewish majority.

Learn more about Zionism, including how it impacts not only Palestinians but people across the world, by visiting the Freedom Bound: Resisting Zionism and White Supremacy section of the curriculum. You can also read “It’s time to admit that Arthur Balfour was a white supremacist — and an anti-Semite, too.

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