Towards Collective Liberation: Calling for Ceasefire, Ending Occupation of Palestine & Peace for All
Updated: Nov 21
Last updated: November 21, 2023
Before you engage with this topic, we encourage you to take a deep breath in. (...) And out. Repeat that a few more times as you need, and take another moment to grab a drink of water, or do at least one more action to help support the regulation of your nervous system in any way you know works best for you. There are so many justified, racing emotions associated with this topic, alongside a great sense of unease given the uncertainties ahead, which only contributes to feelings of anxiety, fear, grief, anger, and frustration. As community organizers who are committed to this work in the long haul, we see it as important to take a few moments before engaging in solidarity work to check in on yourself to ensure you are in a good position to act as an effective ally and co-conspirator for the cause. If needed, a meditation our leadership team benefitted from recently is available online here (6.5 mins long). We also encourage you to engage in community-led events surrounding taking care of yourself alongside the critical work you’re engaging in; for example, check out this community offering of a facilitated somatic awareness and guided meditation offered by united 4 human rights (upcoming events on Nov 1 and Nov 2, 2023).
We at SUTE have been in conversation for some days about what our collective response to this important moment for international solidarity will be. While much of our team has been engaging in individual solidarity and awareness-raising actions as best they can, we made a decision that given our team’s limited volunteer capacity (due to the start of our annual “slow work mode” from Oct to Dec  and our pre-planned book launch), we would take the time we needed to identify how we could meaningfully contribute to this space, given our organization’s unique focus, skill sets and values; namely, of centring community, highlighting youth voices, promoting non-partisanship (bringing people across divides together for this issue), and being evidence-informed. Members of our team have continued to independently engage in critical dialogues, teach-ins/learning opportunities, demonstrations, fundraisers, letter writing to political leadership, and petitions while we continue to work on this collective statement and series of resources.
We are against the massacre of Palestinian and Israeli people, and against genocide in all its forms. We support an immediate ceasefire; a return of all hostages, both Palestinian and Jewish– unharmed. The ongoing genocide of the Palestinian peoples necessitates a true end to the violent colonial occupation of Palestine by the settler Israeli government (as enabled by the Canadian government – which we as an organization that supports political accountability work in what is currently Canada, have an obligation to hold accountable). Importantly, we also support carving out space to promote cross-cultural and interfaith dialogues as an antidote towards the anti-Semitism and Islamophobia that continue to polarize us– particularly during a time when we need unity to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all people. A divided people cannot effectively hold governments or power structures accountable for failing to represent them, or their values.
(1) Seasonally at SUTE, from October to January our organization always goes on “slow work mode”, which means we say no to new organizing work during this time, and focus instead on finishing up our ongoing commitments with the care and focus they deserve. During this period, we also dedicate time to being present in our full-time school, jobs, and life commitments/passions/responsibilities/relationships outside of SUTE. This is important to ensure our work is sustained long-term and that we do not burnout, or not take care of our own wellbeing as frontline responders across a variety of socio-ecological issues.
Our Priorities and the Scope of Our Work in This Space
As an intersectional climate justice organization whose work is primarily focused on empowering those who call what is currently Canada home to unite across borders, in-groups and divides to address social and ecological issues, we feel our strongest contribution to this space comes from 1) sharing teachings from sister movements that can help improve organizing for this issue, and 2) to amplify resources and calls-to-action. The first part of this is a work-in-progress, and although we outline some teachings in the section below, we continue to gather teachings and reflect critically in this space. Much of these teachings and thoughts shared here are sourced from conversations had between members of our team over the Active Learning Club meetings we held on Israel-Palestine relations back in 2021, as well as more recently in the past few weeks with the escalating violence following the Oct 7th attack.
Knowing that the root-cause issues  underlying the occupation of Palestine will not be resolved overnight– albeit urgent, necessary actions such as a ceasefire and the immediate release of both Palestinian and Jewish hostages unharmed would offer a first and foremost critical starting point– we have taken some time to put together this public-facing output. This post serves as an iterative, ever-growing collection of our thoughts, actions, and general work in this space in the context of the 2023 humanitarian crisis. Largely managed by members of our Shake Up Your Community team, we are open to constructive feedback via firstname.lastname@example.org. (2) We recognize that at the root of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia alike, is white supremacy, imperialism, and European colonialism.
Teachings & Offerings from Sister Movements
We have learned so much from ancestors, Elders, and others before us, as well as our experienced peers, about how to successfully organize a movement that unites people for the common goal of uplifting humanity. Here we share some key touch points in conversations we’ve been having related to this issue.
Investigating Futurities: What’s Needed to Attain Healthy Futures for All
We recognize as part of these conversations that there’s a much wider historical context. For our purposes here, we are focusing on communications and actions promoting the cessation of loss-of-life immediately, and holding forth that such violence never occurs again, to anyone, anywhere, for any reason. This explicitly means being against loss of any and all lives, we support an immediate ceasefire, which needs to include the end of the ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian peoples, as well as the immediate release of both the Jewish and Palestinian hostages unharmed. We call for an end to the occupation of Palestine, and a world where both Islamophobia and antisemitism are eradicated completely. We acknowledge that decolonization historically, and by the very nature of the process itself, is violent in many ways, and thus do not want to pass judgement on the methodology by which oppressed peoples are liberating themselves. Our work intends to focus more on futurities and where we go from here. One of the tenets we hope to centre throughout our work here is to ensure that our actions & communications of today are informed by what we want our collective healthy futures to look like.
Importantly, for us, we’d like to invest in actualizing not-so-distant futures where all people have not only safety and good health but thriving lifeways. One of the ways we hope to manifest this critical next step is through supporting bridge-building amongst folks across various diasporas here in what is currently Canada, by promoting intercultural,interfaith, and intergenerational relationships through constructive dialogue.
Futurities-oriented thought invites us to consider and reflect on:
What kind of futures do we want for peoples, lands, waters, and animals being implicated in this issue?
What kind of terminology and language is needed to manifest these futures?
What concepts and theories must we draw inspiration from, but also what new approaches must we coin to help contextually progress this issue towards these futures?
What kind of mass-scale organizing actions are needed to help us achieve those futures?
Disinformation and Misinformation Disservices & Hinders Progress
Oftentimes, misinformation (wrong information that is unintentionally spread) but also, more critically, disinformation (wrong information that is deliberately spread to support an agenda) is acting as an incendiary for sensationalist, overly simplistic and thus effective propaganda across the board. We’ve seen this mechanism function as a catalyst for anti-Asian hate in 2020-2022 with respect to COVID-19. During a time when there is a lack of accurate real-time information about a developing situation, disinformation is easily weaponized to be adversarial. In the long run, this makes reconciliation harder.
Here’s a podcast recommendation that helps add more to this topic from experts working in the field of disinformation, who offer insight into the real-life impacts of the spread of wrong information during this 2023 humanitarian crisis (Today, Explained episode entitled, “Hearts, Minds, Likes”; 25.5 mins).
Some good practices to get you started on this path can include:
Reading full articles, not just headlines; stay wary of sensationalized headlines as social media can be a game of telephone where the original message can be editorialized or re-interpretted inappropriately
Confirm with multiple sources before sharing information; also be critical of the sources themselves and what they seek to gain from sharing what they are, and/or what their affiliations might be
Sometimes people seek to confirm biases using sources that align with those biases so it’s good to see the full breadth of coverage on an issue and be a critical thinker in navigating/identifying sources of bias, as well as double checking your sources
Invest in long-term education so you can strengthen your understanding of the situation and are better able to navigate conflicting perspectives/ are more confident in your own analyses
Seek to learn from direct sources of people on the ground/people impacted wherever possible, and centre their lived experiences in the context of media coverage on the same issues
Understanding Ties to Climate Justice Work in Social Justice Movements
The fight for climate justice is intrinsically linked to any and all social justice movements, because climate justice acknowledges that the impacts of the climate crisis are not borne equally across all populations, and that climate change acts as a threat multiplier for structurally disadvantaged populations. Palestinians’ rights to self determine a healthy, safe and thriving environment ties to climate justice in a multitude of ways, including (but not limited to) the following:
Climate change exacerbates already vulnerable areas: Data has continuously shown that nations with already vulnerable populations (such as countries that have had resources extracted from imperialist powers) are especially harmed by the climate crisis . This includes (but is not limited to) areas that may be dependent on other countries for external resources, nations that may be landlocked, and areas where flooding is at an increased risk.
Freshwater pollution: The Gaza Strip has been dealing with a lack of accessible clean water for years. Reports from NGOs show that less than four percent of freshwater in Gaza is drinkable . This same data shows that Israel’s decades-long blockade has resulted in further difficulties for Palestinians to access infrastructure to increase their freshwater supply. This increases the risk of water-based diseases to spread. Gaza borders the Mediterranean Sea: rising sea levels increase salination, making this water undrinkable without the proper treatment facilities. As pollution caused by the climate crisis increases, this issue is expected to continue to worsen.
Access to food/farming resources: Around 80 percent of Gaza’s population has become dependent on international aid, due to Israel’s decades long blockade of the region . The climate crisis negatively implicates the ability for communities to access fresh food because agriculture as an industry is extremely sensitive to changes in environment, weather, water, and soil . As a result of the Israeli government bombing the occupied Palestinian territories, the population of Gaza will continue their reliance on international aid to make up for the lack of access to food and farming resources.
Bombing Palestinian agriculture furthers these issues: The Israeli military has banned all forms of farming within four kilometres of the Gaza border fence, with farmers fleeing from other nearby border towns . It should also be noted that there are farming towns near the Israel-Gaza border which provide food to Israeli citizens as well. The bombing of these farming towns damages the soil’s ability to grow crops in the future, potentially further exacerbating the way the climate crisis limits people’s ability to access viable food sources.
Many Gazans dependant on fishing: People in Gaza are limited to the Israeli-designated Gaza fishing zone along the Mediterranean Sea border. This limit is generally 15 nautical miles (around 27 kilometres), but can vary. The Israeli government has reduced this fishing zone in half before , further reducing Gazans ability to access food. Under Israeli occupation, Palestinians have been forced to rely on Israeli distribution of resources (such as food, water, electricity, and fuel) . Despite the 15 nautical miles as the legal limit, Palestinians have reported being targeted by Israeli soldiers when only half a mile off shore . Fishers in Gaza have become dependent on the ability to access the Mediterranean as a reliable food supply. However, the continuing climate crisis means decreasing the ability to reliably access fish. Pollution from bombings damages the Mediterranean’s ecosystem while simultaneously, global warming and rising sea levels change the way aquatic life can reproduce. Currently, around 20 percent of aquatic life in the Mediterranean Sea is at risk of extinction .
 On the Frontline of Climate Crisis, Worlds Most Vulnerable Nations Suffer Disproportionately. United Nations, 2015: https://www.un.org/ohrlls/news/frontline-climate-crisis-worlds-most-vulnerable-nations-suffer-disproportionately
 Failing Gaza: undrinkable water, no access to toilets and little hope on the horizon. Oxfam, https://www.oxfam.org/en/failing-gaza-undrinkable-water-no-access-toilets-and-little-hope-horizon
 Prior to current crisis, decades-long blockade hollowed Gaza’s economy, leaving 80% of population dependent on international aid. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, 2023: https://unctad.org/press-material/prior-current-crisis-decades-long-blockade-hollowed-gazas-economy-leaving-80
 Climate Change Impacts on Agriculture and Food Supply. United States Environemntal Protection Agency, 2023: https://www.epa.gov/climateimpacts/climate-change-impacts-agriculture-and-food-supply
 War plunged Israel’s agricultural heartlands into crisis, raising fears for its farming future. ABC News, 2023: https://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/war-plunged-israels-agricultural-heartlands-crisis-raising-fears-104509165
 Israel halves Gaza fishing zone after dozens of fires sparked in south. The Times of Israel, 2020: https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-halves-gaza-fishing-zone-after-dozens-of-fires-sparked-in-south/
 Crisis in Gaza: why food, water and power are running out. The Guardian, 2023: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/oct/17/crisis-gaza-why-food-water-power-running-out
 Gaza fisherfolk can only ‘dream of fishing freely’ under Israel’s blockade. Al-Jazeera, 2023: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/8/23/gaza-fisherfolk-can-only-dream-of-fishing-freely-under-israels-blockade
 Heat-struck Mediterranean is climate change 'hot spot'. Phys Org, 2023: https://phys.org/news/2023-07-heat-struck-mediterranean-climate-hot.html
Bringing People Together: Fostering Unity to Return Power to the People
Time and again, we have seen that echo chambers get created very quickly online. Those that are already aligned, or are closer to being aligned, on an issue share awareness-raising communication materials with their similarly-thinking community members (often people who already follow them). Only so much can be done by speaking with people who are already engaged or aligned with the same goal, rather we need to be speaking to people from different perspectives in order to drive the changes we want to see.
An example from some of our members’ experiences with organizing for gender justice helps further illustrate this idea. While the efforts of women and gender diverse communities have been indispensable in the fight for gender equity and justice, members of our team have previously spent years organising for an end to gender-based violence (GBV). Through their experiences in organzing campaigns and awareness-raising events for this cause, they came to realize that most women and gender-diverse peoples– who are disproportionately impacted by violence– were already on board with campaigns advocating for an end to GBV. And so it was through organizing events where men were engaged in critical education and dialogue led by women and gender-diverse peoples, that the necessary sociocultural shift that would help address the root causes of the issues would begin to be addressed. In fact, many of the men involved in these discussions carried the knowledge and perspectives forward into other spheres of their lives where we did not have networks of access as organizers, which only added to the widespread impact of this work. This is but one example of so many where constructive dialogue helps set forth a necessary cultural shift.
Through the development of consistent isolated thought collectives that do not engage with folks on all sides of the issue, organizers can inadvertently contribute to the polarization of an issue, which can further deepen divides preventing us from meaningful solutions. These divides can make it increasingly difficult to hear or read what others might be feeling, seeing, hearing, experiencing or analyzing from a different positionality within the situation. Talking past one another, folks get more deep-seated not only in their views, but also in language that they see as validating or invalidating their worldview. Suddenly, folks who wish to communicate about the issue feel that in a rapidly changing context, they might not say the right thing or that they might harm relationships due to not understanding how to best show up in solidarity and support. Given this, we also caution that it is usually best to lead with empathy and assume that a person might not be ill-intentioned in their response to the issue, but that they could benefit from dialoguing in a safe way with you to further their understanding and thus bolster their support in helpful ways.
Everyday people are talking past each other to have their hearts be heard– and are seeking a sense of community to validate, empathize, share and hold in solidarity, feelings of wrongdoing and injustice. We must work together to be in community with each other in processing grief and in our work to educate each other with compassion; knowing that some are not familiar with terms, histories and legacies of violence that inform our work. We want to reach these people effectively by meeting them where they are and by being good, effective messengers for the cause by leading with empathy to bring them into our movements. Navigating necessary anti-colonial progress with an emphatic approach can help us all to avoid falling into the trap of the colonial tactics of division.
By being non-judgemental in our approach towards meeting people where they are, and bringing them in with us on this journey in an empathy-informed way, we (the international community) can increase support for the asks from people directly implicated on the ground, offload their burden of teaching others and act as effective messengers for the cause. Below, we offer two starting points for considering next steps on this topic.
Check out, support and amplify the work of organizations focused on relationship-building across culture, language, religion and historical contexts.
Examples of organizations promoting peace, unity and relationships across all people in this region include Alliance for Middle East Peace (Allmep) and Seeds of Peace. You can find a more extensive list of groups and initiatives here. We take inspiration from their long-standing commitment to strengthening communities and their fostering of an ethic of care across divides.
Check out resources that help navigate cross-cultural & interfaith dialogue.
Navigating tough conversations with Jewish family, friends and the wider community - a resource which includes what to say, how to say it, and how to prepare for the conversations at hand
Showing up as Jewish right now - a resource which offers what Jewish folks can collectively to do support solidarity work
Amplifying Immediate Calls-to-Action
This is a non-comprehensive list of actions folks can take to help with this issue; it was last updated on Oct 31/23.
Donate to any of the following relief organizations that are on the ground in Gaza:
Support the call for immediate ceasefire:
Explore the work of
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) and follow them on Instagram for news updates, factsheets and calls to action regarding the ongoing settler occupation of Palestine
Active Learning Club Resource Compilation from 2021, which Provides Context on Israel-Palestine Relations
Many of these resources are from our 2021 internal active learning club meeting about this topic, but our team has checked to pull out relevant resources from that to help share them here. There are likely many more resources, and some that are more current that you can find and explore on your own, so this is just to help get you started.
If you’re not familiar with what’s happening in Israel and Palestine, you may consider first engaging with:
A Guide to Difficult Conversations About Israel and Palestine by Jewish Voice for Peace
NOTE: This resource was written in 2016, so we recommend focusing on the first 10 pages of the document
The Palestine Academy (self-paced, est. 1 day)
For some historical context (non-comprehensive):
*Content Warning: These resources reference the violent acts of ethnic cleansing and apartheid that have been carried out against Palestinians*
Read A beginner guide to Gaza Strip by Al Jazeera (10 min)
Watch Is Israel guilty of Apartheid? By Vox (12 min)
Watch Rashida Tlaib on Al-Nakba by Al Jazeera (2 min)
Read BDS Movement (10 min)
To better understand the climate justice perspective:
Read Palestine is a climate justice issue (10 min)
For insight into the Western response:
Why American politicians cannot say the words ‘Israeli apartheid’ (CW: Images of IDF violence against Palestinians)
Canada-Israel: Partners in the Settler Colonial Contract (CW: Mentions of anti-Indigenous racism and accounts of Israeli violence against Palestinians)
@zacfeilchenfeld (5 min)
@MariamBarghouti (7 min)
@sandratamari1 (CW: Detailed account of Israeli airport anti-Palestinian racism)
My Neighbourhood (30 min; CW: this resource contains references to and footage of Palestinians being forced out of their homes)
Jewish Perspectives on Anti-Zionism:
Read I’m One of the Young People Who Walked Off Birthright Israel This Summer (10 min) & explore Not Just a Free Trip
Read I’m a Recovering Zionist by Mira Stern
Listen to Keeping Us From One Another episode by The Diaspora Podcast (25 min)
Jewish communities on edge amid ‘troubling rise’ of anti-Semitism in Canada by Global News (5 min; CW: Mentions of anti-Semitism)
Book recommendation: Reclaiming Judaism from Zionism (CW: Mentions of anti-Semitism)
Selection of Educational Resources from Our Team (Non-Comprehensive)
Our History of Popular Resistance: Palestine Reading List - A compilation of readings on Palestine created by the Palestinian Youth Movement
Follow @letstalkpalestine on Instagram who provide facts, resources and updates on the current situation in Palestine
Read Ignoring the roots of violence in the Israel–Palestine conflict challenges any future peace by Hayder Al-Shakeri, Time Eaton & Dr. Renad Mansour (3 min) - an article that discusses the importance of understanding the systems of violence present in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict for just resolution
Read What is environmental injustice and how does it affect Palestine? by Friends of the Earth (3 min) - an article that explains how the ongoing occupation of Palestine by the settler Israeli government is linked to the environmental issues that Palestine is facing
Read Misinformation about the Israel-Hamas war is flooding social media. Here are the facts from the Associated Press (15 min) - fact checks for claims and misinformation regarding the current situation in Palestine
Read 2023 Hostilities and Escalating Violence in the Opt | Account of Events from the Diakonia International Humanitarian Law Centre - detailed accounts of recent events between Israel and occupied Palestine