Talking about what’s happening in Israel-Palestine is vital, now and always.
But: we have to do it without falling back on antisemitic and anti-Muslim tropes and speech.
Think before you post!
1. Be clear about what you mean when using labels:
- Jewish or Muslim refers to people all over the world who are part of a religious group
- Palestinian or Israeli are national identities
- Zionism is the belief in the right of the Jewish people to self-determination (and not all people who call themselves Zionist share the same opinion about the exact territory, principles, etc. of the state of Israel). ‘Zionist’ or ‘Zio’ should not be used as a term of abuse
- Arab is a grouping of people whose mother tongue is Arabic and there is great diversity across the Arab World (i.e. Jordan can’t simply become Palestine just because they are Arabs)
- Islamism* is an academic term with French origins that refers to a broad spectrum of political ideologies. Islamism is not a synonym for terrorism and should not be used as such
2. Do not hold Jews responsible for the decisions of the Israeli leaders, or Muslims responsible for the decisions of the Palestinian leaders
3. Do not demand that Jews or Muslims must take a certain political position on the issue
4. Do not assume that all Palestinians or Israelis support the actions of their governments
5. Anti-Zionism is not always antisemitic (for example if someone is generally anti-nationalism and believes in abolishing nation-states)
However, it can be, for example if criticism of Israel goes beyond that of its government policies and uses antisemitic tropes**
6. Do not state that Muslims should leave Palestine because they have the whole of the rest of the Middle East or that Israeli Jews should ‘go back to where they came from’
7. Israel is not a conspiracy to take over the Middle East or the World, and Palestine is not a conspiracy to enforce a Caliphate on Israel/Europe/the World
These are two national identities who both want to exist on the same piece of land
8. Israel is not Nazi Germany. Palestine is not Daesh
9. Israelis and Palestinians are human beings, celebrating their suffering and death is not acceptable
10. Be sensitive towards people who are pro-Israel or pro-Palestine at this time
They may have friends/family involved in the situation, or Israel/Palestine may represent something important to them such as their own sense of struggle or a place of safety in times of persecution
Solidarity with one side or the other is not a crime, they can be pro-Israel/pro-Palestine and still be pro-solution
If you want any advice, contact us at Solutions Not Sides. If you’re a teacher or school leader and want to know more about discussing this issue with your students, you can find out more here.
This blog was written and first published by Solutions Not Sides (May 2021). Tweet was later added by Voice of Salam (May 2021).
Solutions Not Sides is an education programme that exists to provide humanising encounters, diverse narratives and critical-thinking tools in order to empower young people with the knowledge, empathy and skills to promote dialogue and conflict resolution, and to challenge prejudice in the UK.
The views expressed in this blog are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of Voice of Salam.
In line with Voice of Salam’s values and beliefs, we would like to affirm that:
*The term “Islamism” pre-dates French usage: “Islamism is generally acknowledged to be a modern phenomenon. It is commonplace for scholars to trace its origins to the establishment of the Muslim Brothers in Egypt in 1928, as an alternative mode of social and political organisation to that proposed by secular nationalists. “
The term Islamism is derived from the Arabic term Islāmiyyūn (Islamists) used by many members of the disparate Islamic political movements to describe their outlook.
Whilst not all those who believe in Islamist ideology have carried out acts of terrorism, all modern day terrorists who have been Muslim have been Islamists.
**In accordance with the IHRA definition of antisemitism which Voice of Salam follows, antizionism is antisemitic (unless in the context of a worldview without any nation States).