Pro-Palestinian activists and Palestinians alike are constantly being pressured to condemn and apologise in order to prove their humanity and worthiness.
Questions of condemnation and apology portray a false narrative that Palestinians are instigators of violence and terrorism, while Israel is a hapless victim of the latter. Such a narrative disregards the reality and history of Palestine, and the 75 years of occupation and oppression they endure.
These talking points provide guidance on how to tackle the question of condemnation and how to navigate the war of narratives taking place:
1. Understanding background and context:
Before rushing to condemn Hamas or Palestinian resistance, there should be an understanding of the history, background and context of the current attack on Gaza. As most recently acknowledged by the UN Secretary General, the actions carried out by Hamas on 7 October did not take place in a vacuum. Palestinians have been occupied and oppressed for over 100 years by both the UK and Israel. Their land has been stolen and their people have been killed. As well as being militarily occupied with more than 12,000 Palestinian children having been detained by Israeli forces since 2000, the Gaza Strip has suffered a brutal and suffocating siege and blockade for over 16 years. Israel and the international community ignored repeated warnings on the untenable status quo and that there would be a response to its decades old genocidal policies towards the Palestinians.
2. The right to resist & self-determination:
Under international law (ICCPR) and as an occupied people, Palestinians have the right to resist an occupying force and to self-determination. Israel and its allies in the West have equated this right of resistance with terrorism and antisemitism in an effort to silence Palestinian solidarity and delegitimise criticisms towards Israel. With the exception of inviting or expressing support for proscribed organisations, it is not against the law to express solidarity with Palestine and Palestinian resistance. As citizens we have the right to freedom of expression and assembly. The international community is quick to label Palestinian acts of resistance as terrorism but ‘support Israel’s right to self-defence’ when it indiscriminately kills Palestinians.
3. Seek the truth:
There is a lot of misinformation being published uncritically by the mainstream media on the latest assault of Gaza. Much of this emanates from Israeli government, military and intelligence sources. We must ensure we amplify the voices of Palestinians in Gaza and experts who are able to debunk these false narratives. Primarily we cannot allow ourselves to become vessels carrying false news inadvertently. As such it is important to wait for all the facts to emerge before passing judgement. Stress the importance of maintaining independence in analysis and not being swayed solely by government or media narratives.
4. Reject the ‘condemnation’ question.
The question of condemnation should be challenged and rejected in its entirety. Its premise is built on the same rationale of the ‘you are either with us or against us’ speech given by George Bush in his invasion of Afghanistan. It is designed to delegitimise the Palestinian people and their right to resistance and self-determination. It also seeks to create a collective guilt among Muslim communities, forcing them to self-censor in expressing solidarity for Palestine. The question forms a part of the false narrative being pushed through by mainstream media that solidarity with Palestine is support for terrorism and anti-semitism. It disregards the context of over 100 years of occupation, oppression and murder. To counter this question, we must ask if the West and international community will condemn Israel for the countless war crimes it has committed in its illegal occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people and their land. We must frame their unconditional support for Israel as an active act of supporting the genocide of the Palestinians.
5. Our Language Should be Unapologetically pro-Palestinian:
As a community, we need to present an united front in support of Palestine, in language as well as in action. The language we use in expressing solidarity with Palestine should be unapologetic, direct and clear. We should avoid playing into the false equivalence arguments of ‘both sides’ that erases the lived reality of Palestinians and the history of systematic persecution and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.
6. Be aware of wider agendas:
The UK government and Police are increasingly intervening with a hardline approach against expressions of Palestinian solidarity. This agenda seeks to securitise and criminalise expressions of Palestinian solidarity, creating an atmosphere of fear and self-censorship. We must resist this authoritarian assault on our rights to freedom of expression and assembly and continue in our support for Palestine.
- I Refuse to Condemn: Resisting racism in times of national security
- Know Your Rights: How to confidently express solidarity with Palestine
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)