Not long after the Hamas attack on Oct. 7, Israel began its latest intense bombardment of the Gaza Strip.
Not long after the Hamas attack on Oct. 7, Israel began its latest intense bombardment of the Gaza Strip. Credit: Jorge Fernández Salas / Unsplash Credit: Jorge Fernández Salas / Unsplash

At rallies across the globe, Palestinians and their supporters emphasize that the siege on Gaza we are currently witnessing did not begin on October 7. Indeed, Palestinian displacement, and resistance to it, has been ongoing for over 75 years. In Israel/Palestine, Palestinian resistance has always been met with repression. Israel has a history of labeling Palestinian solidarity organizations as terrorist groups, and urging other nations to follow suit. Within Israel, waving the Palestinian flag is seen as incitement of violence and quickly invites the wrath of police or soldiers. Even in 2018, when Palestinians in Gaza engaged in the peaceful March of Return, many were shot and murdered by the Israeli Defence Force.

With intense surveillance of Palestinians within Israel/Palestine, including video surveillance, identification checks, and unexpected home visits from military and settlers alike, resistance efforts for Palestinians within their homeland has never been easy. But since October 7, these actions of resistance from inside have become nearly impossible. With constant bombing on Gaza, and the restriction on basic human essentials to enter the strip, Israel has repressed even the ability for those inside the strip to post to social media or text and call those on the outside. 

But with all eyes on Gaza, the plight of Palestinians in the West Bank has become markedly worse. Soldiers in the West Bank have been given orders to shoot to kill, forcing families to abandon their olive fields during harvest season, for fear of death. Settler attacks have also increased. And now with the Israeli government providing assault rifles to settlers in the West Bank, these attacks have only grown more violent. Palestinians within Israel are also facing random attacks while going to and from work. 

Last May, I attended a delegation with the Centre for Jewish Nonviolence with around 40 other Jews from all over the world. During my time there, I engaged in co-resistance efforts against occupation in both East Jerusalem and the South Hebron Hills. During my time there, I met many amazing Palestinian activists engaging in resistance and sumud (the Palestinian value of steadfastness or rootedness). This I expected, but I did not expect to meet so many Israeli activists working within the country to demand Palestinian self-determination. Groups like Free Jerusalem, All That’s Left, and the Refuser Solidarity Network rarely make Western news, but their presence is certainly felt within the country. These groups have organized actions, shown up as contingents at pro-democracy actions, and also work with Palestinians to provide concrete supports like protective detail. 

While activists who hold Israeli citizenship rarely face the same levels of punishment as their Palestinian counterparts, the Israeli government is clamping down on dissent from within as it carries out this brutal assault on Gaza. Incidents of attacks against Israeli activists, both on the street and as a result of doxing, are increasing. Israelis who publicly engage in activism are being criminalized more harshly. With activist Meir Baruchin recently being threatened with a ten year sentence for ‘betrayal’. Even families who are protesting for their loved ones to be returned by Hamas are being criticized by the government. All this while legislation to crack down on dissenting speech is being promoted by government officials.  

Perhaps taking the lead of Israel, pro-Palestinian protests and symbols are being banned across Europe. While France’s recent ban on all pro-Palestinian protesting was thrown out by the courts, Germany, Austria, and Hungary have successfully banned many of these rallies. In the UK, these rallies have been targeted through the banning of certain flags and chants. In these countries and even in the US and Canada, there has been aggressive police response to those demonstrating for Palestinian liberation

But unlike Palestinians in Palestine, those of us criminalized for protesting do not have to worry about being shot by officers or held in confinement indefinitely. Even in Germany with a ban in full effect, thousands of demonstrators are taking to the streets to demand a ceasefire. On October 16, Jews and allies with IfNotNOw protested in Washington DC, with over 30 arrests made. On October 18, joined by Jewish Voice for Peace, they did it again, this time occupying the captiol building and seeing hundreds of arrests. My comrades arrested at both actions were released from custody within a few hours. Indeed, on October 16, activists were arrested and released before being arrested and taken into custody a second time. On October 30 in Toronto, over ten people were arrested during a morning picket of an arms manufacturer and an afternoon sit-in of Member of Parliament offices. Those arrested received a $65 fine for the provincial offence of trespassing. 

When I consider what is happening in Gaza, as well as my comrades in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, I’m quite content to pay $65 and a few hours of my life to bring their struggle to a global audience. When I hear from those within the country, I know this is the least I can do for them. Those of us living in the West have the privilege to speak up and show up in the streets for Palestine with minimal risk. Particularly as activism from within is under attack, it is our duty to spread the message of the people of Gaza. 

We have the power to disrupt the global narrative of Israel’s bombing of civilian targets as justified. We can make news that is unignorable. We can garner the attention of our politicians and force them to act on the issue. We see this right now as politicians around the world grow less certain of their unwavering support for Israel. We know they see us in their office buildings and their streets. We know the power of collective struggle, and we must harness it in this moment. 

Before October 7, I had planned to be in Palestine right now, joining the Centre for Jewish Nonviolence to support the olive harvest in the West Bank. I watch videos of settler violence on Instagram and I feel immense sorrow that I can’t be there to support. Instead, I will be in the streets at every protest until my Palestinian comrades in Canada can return to Palestine with me. 

Anna Lippman

Anna is a third generation Ashkenazi Jewish migrant on Turtle Island. She is a PhD student in the Sociology department at York University. Anna organizes with several groups in Toronto including Showing...