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A Response Guide for the Tough Questions

It can be scary and difficult when someone challenges you for supporting Palestine.

Note that some of these responses may become outdated overtime, but we'll do our best to keep refreshing them.

Why do you support Palestine?

This one is personal. You can answer how you want. Here's a few things you could mention:

  • The protection of innocent lives, regardless of race, gender, and ethnicity.
  • The inherent belief that oppression of a people is wrong; That the people of Palestine deserve to live freely without constant surveillance, checkpoints, and harassment by Israeli authorities.
  • The universality of human rights, not just legally, but morally.
  • The belief that no human should be deprived of food, water, electricity, and basic humanitarian aid. Similarly, no civilian should be the target of inhumane chemical weapons.
How is supporting Palestine different from supporting Hamas?

Palestine is not Hamas. The two are incredibly different.

Palestine refers to the geographic region and a country recognized by 139 out of 196 countries in the United Nations. When we support Palestine, we are supporting the ethnically Palestinian civilians of this region who have been living under the oppression and ruthlessness of the Israeli government since 1948.

Hamas, on the other hand, is a political organization that originated in Gaza in 1987 and later militarized to fight for Palestinian freedom. It's critical to understand supporting Hamas as a political organization also does not mean supporting their military wings, such as the Izz Ad-Din al-Wassam Brigades of Hamas or other Palestinian liberation fighting groups, which may sometimes hold anti-Semitic and violent beliefs. Western leaders conflating Hamas and its military operations have demonized the entire organization.

Nonetheless, it is best to emphasize your support for the people of Palestine.

Isn't supporting Palestine anti-semitic?

Not at all. Supporting the people of Palestine and demanding a ceasefire supports the demand for human rights for all.

It is important that throughout your responses, you reject any form of bigotry, including anti-Semitism. If necessary, emphasize that you are standing up against Zionism and Israel's brutal oppression of the Palestinian people, and have no issue with Judaism or the Jewish people.

I'm Jewish, I have to support Israel.

You should be proud of your Jewish identity, but your Jewish identity is not tied to the actions of the Israeli government. The ruthless bombings and killing of civilians are not acceptable. Together, we can fight anti-Semitism and still support Palestine.

Many Jewish people are aware of the decades of atrocities committed against Palestinians but feel compelled to support Israel because of their identity. In the midst of all the recent bombings, this is no longer an option. We need everyone's support. Share resources like Jewish Voice for Peace and If Not Now as fantastic resources for Jewish people to find ways to get involved.

I am not Palestinian or Arab, how can I be an ally right now?

First, understand that you are not a savior. Supporting Palestine through any means should not feel like charity, but solidarity.

To make a difference, we must all work together towards collective liberation. Continue sharing on social media, and maintain the momentum of the movement. Continue calling on your representatives, attending protests, donating to organizations, and boycotting companies that benefit from Palestinian oppression. These resources can be found in our resource guide.

Is this a "genocide"?

Yes. Here are the factors making it a genocide:

  • This is a mass killing of a singular national, ethnic, or racial group;
  • Israel's intent to "completely eradicate" Hamas and Gaza;
  • Israel's intent to disallow the formation of a Palestinian state;
  • Read United Nations' definition of genocide.
What does "From the River to the Sea" Mean?

"From the river to the Sea" has nothing to do with violence. When we chant this, it is a call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful co-existence, drive by the 75 years of Israeli military rule over Palestine. "From the River to the Sea" is a reminder of the violent displacement and fragmentation Palestinians have faced under occupation.

The accusation that this phrase calls for a genocide is rooted in racism and islamophobia. To distort the meaning of this phrase is to discredit the marginalized group, and to oppress their desire for freedom. Palestinians simply want to live in their homeland without being oppressed, nor oppress others.

What is "Pinkwashing"?

Pinkwashing entails promoting gay-friendliness as a sign of being more progressive or liberal. Israel is trying to use positive imagery of its LGBTQ+ community to warrant the various human rights violations it’s been conducting for decades. This is ignoring the queer Palestinians and providing an excuse for Israel to bomb them “in the name of love.”

Is this a "war"?

Not really. A "war" typically implies a situation in which two powers face each other. In this case, Israel is a nuclear-armed regional military super-power, with a strong economy and global backing. Palestine, on the other hand, lacks official organization and has no formal military.

Some have used "settler-colonial war" as Israel displaces Palestinians through force and harassment. Israel's claims for Zionism are rooted on colonial ideas and methods.

What is "Zionism"?

Zionism is the movement to create a Jewish state in Palestine. Like many colonizers throughout history, Israel has used the justification of religious superiority, democracy, and freedom as a justification for the forceful displacement of the Palestinian people.

Why is this an "apartheid"?

An apartheid occurs when a government or regime is designed to favor a particular group over another, and enforced by force. This is widely recognized as a violation of human rights in international law.

The lack of recognition of Palestinians and their rights in Israel, coupled with the violent enforcement of these regimes support the term "apartheid".

The West Bank is where apartheid is most visible. Jewish settlers illegally occupying territory and in the same community as Palestinians are subject to Israeli civil law, while the Palestinians live under draconian rules, limited ability for movement and travel, frequent military checkpoints, constant harassment and surveillance, and other forms of inhumane treatment.

Is a "two-state solution" good?

The two-state solution recommends the creation of a Palestinian state, such that the Israelis and Palestinians can live separately. While this is a potential path to peace for Palestinians, this requires the Israeli government to recognize Palestinian authorities and forfeit territories it has occupied illegally. As such, an agreement for a two-state system is incredibly difficult and highly unlikely. Despite this challenge, if global leaders are willing to discuss a two-state solution, this is still a step in the right direction.

As a reminder, Palestinians have the right to self-determination. It is not our place to decide for Palestinians what their future shall be. They must represent themselves, rather than a phony decision forced upon them.

What about October 7th?

What about October 8th? 9th? 10th? 11th? 12th? ...?

Israel's violent and indiscriminate killing of Palestinians has left more than 30,000 dead, including over 10,000 children. They have injured tens of thousands, and continue to hold over 10,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons without due process, and subected to inhumane treatment.

October 7th does not justify Israel's response.

Do you condemn Hamas?

To this, we counter with -- do you condemn the Israeli government? Do you condemn the killing of over 10,000 children? 30,000 humans? The use of chemical weapons on civilians? The targeting of journalists, aid workers, and UN facilities? The deliberate starvation of an entire population? The systemic destruction of an entire city?

Questions regarding decapitated babies

As of Jan 1, there is still no confirmed evidence that this occurred.

The rumor began after a reporter spoke to Israeli soldiers and quickly reported the story without any confirmation. The story spread like wildfire, and many news outlets have had to retract their statements since then. The Israeli government still holds that Hamas fighters did decapitate babies, but no evidence of this is available.

Note that attacks against Israeli children did occur, however, this differs from the "40 decapitated babies" the Israeli government insists on.

Questions regarding widespread sexual assault

As of Jan 1, there is no confirmed evidence of widespread sexual assault.

This was originally claimed by the Israeli Government and major media outlets. Similar to the story of decapitated babies, multiple news outlets have retracted their statements. While the Israeli government still reaffirms that there was widespread rape and sexual abuse, evidence suggests isolated incidents, at best.

Note that attacks against Israeli women did occur, however, this differs from the "widespread sexual assault" as claimed by the Israeli government.

Questions regarding Hamas' mass killings of Israeli civilians

No civilian deaths are acceptable. It's important to be considerate of who you may be talking to, as they may be personally impacted as well. Focus the conversation on how the deaths of civilians, regardless of ethnicity and race, are not acceptable.

Did Israel deserve to be attacked?

Our short recommendation is that regardless of how you feel, you should not answer this question. Frankly, this question is deeply dehumanizing, regardless of who you support. You should reiterate that you do not wish for any violence to occur, and seek a peaceful solution in which Palestinians do not have to live in fear and oppression.

Hamas started it first, Israel has a right to defend itself.

We're not children, who did what first has no bearing on what is morally right or wrong. In the context of Israel-Palestine, it is morally wrong to kill civilians.

It is important to remember that the issue of Israel-Palestine has been an ongoing issue for decades. Israel's use of force is excessive and disproportionately impacts the innocent lives of Palestinian civilians, especially in densely populated areas like Gaza.

"Proportional" response.

The proportional response has become increasingly discussed by media outlets, especially in interview segments such as those by Piers Morgan. This question diminishes the human lives that are lost each day. Israel has killed thousands of civilians, multiples more than the deaths on October 7th. We must demand a ceasefire now, and instead focus on long-term solutions instead of short-term hatred.

What war crimes have Israel committed?

The intentional starving of the enemy, especially a civilian population, is a war crime. Israel has shut off water, fuel, electricity, and other critical aid to Palestine. That's a war crime.

Israel has fired missiles targeting aid workers, hospitals, and other medical personnel. This includes firing missiles to the same location after emergency response teams arrive. That's a war crime.

Israel has used chemical weapons on civilians, including white phosphorous bombs. That's a war crime.

Israel is targeting Hamas, not civilians.

It's important to first understand that Gaza is more densely populated than New York City, and the people of Palestine have nowhere to go. Israel's bombing of Gaza and use of chemical weapons on an urban region is morally wrong.

There is no justification for civilians to be considered "collateral damage" or "collective punishment".

Israel is warning civilians before attacks.

This is nearly always false. Amnesty International finds that these warnings are rarely taken as well as additional war crimes here

It is also important to understnad there is nowhere to take shelter in Gaza. The Gaza strip is a densely populated urban area, and bombs have struck across its entirety. Dropping pamphlets with a 30 minute warning when there is zero transportation, fuel, and telecommunications makes this psychological and emotional torture, not mercy.

In the extremely rare instances, Israel warns Palestinian aid workers and doctors only, not civilians, and this has typically been linked to the IDF's publicity and propaganda efforts.

Israel told Palestinians to evacuate to Southern Gaza.

There is nowhere for Palestinians to go.

The Rafah Border Crossing remains closed after being struck by Israeli forces and is only permitting the entry of approved aid. Further, Israeli forces have been bombing areas all across Gaza, and not just the Northern regions. By heading South, they would be abandoning their homes and risking their lives.

Palestinian civilians can just leave.

First, Palestinians have a right to their homeland. They should not be forced to leave their homes, as they have repeatedly throughout the past seven decades (see Nakba).

Secondly, Gaza is described as the "World's Largest Open Air Prison" as there is nowhere for the Palestinians to go. The sole exit point is the Rafah Border Crossing, which has been closed after being bombed by Israel after the events on October 7th.

Hamas is using Palestinians as "human shields".

These are incredibly misleading statements by the Israeli government.

This is not a bank robbery, where the civilians are held as hostages. It is true Hamas has made requests for civilians to stay, but this is to defend their homeland together, not to serve as "human shields". Further, the people of Palestine don't want to live in fear of Israeli bombardments either, but they have nowhere to go.

If Hamas released the hostages, Israel would stop.

Hamas had already offered to release hostage in exchange for fuel and aid, but Israel declined this offer. If the safe return of hostages was truly Israel's primary concern, they would not be indiscriminatly bombing Gaza and using this situation to double down on atrocities against Palestinians in the West Bank and Israeli citizens of Palestinian ethnicity.

Regarding Al Ahli Hospital Situation

We hope there will be an independent third party on the ground to verify this someday, but in the meantime, there is concrete, irrefutable evidence that Israel has targeted medical personnel. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has repeatedly reported attacks targeting hospitals, ambulances, medical personnel, and patients.

Regarding Al Ahli Hospital: The reality is there will not be definitive evidence for some time, and the only way we will know is for trustworthy third parties to verify evidence on the ground. The news coverage will remain one-sided, as there are little to no journalists in Gaza. Israel frequently distorts the realities of their operations to retain a moral narrative.

But the United States supports Israel

The United States is not the world's moral compass. Whether it is America's own history of oppression and racial discrimination or its failed foreign policies such as invading Iraq for its alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), there is no reason to equate the United States' official position as the justification for what is moral.

As with all international diplomacy of this magnitude, there is a multitude of domestic and international political agendas. Instead, we should focus on the morality of this crisis, regardless of America's political and regional interests.

Killing civilians is wrong. Cutting off water, fuel, electricity, and other critical aid to Palestine is wrong. Providing tens of billions in military aid to a rich country is wrong.

Israel is helping the US get rid of a terror organization

Similar to America's war on terror, it's important to first understand the root cause of hatred and violence. In this case, Palestinians wish to live freely without constant occupation, harassment, and frequent killing of Palestinians.

The reality, as such, is that these ruthless Israeli bombardments against the civilian population are not only going to fail to eradicate Hamas, it will likely cause many more people to join the fight against Israel. When you take away their house, their family, their livelihoods, they have nothing left to lose but to fight back.

Iran supports Hamas, and US hates Iran.

First, we do not support Hamas, we support the people of Palestine. Secondly, the enemy of my enemy is not my friend.

To address wider issues across the Middle East is distracting from the main situation. Israel killing Palestinians is wrong. Israel cutting of water, fuel, electricity, and other supplies to Palestine is wrong.

Israel is a key security partner in the Middle East, we must keep funding them.

Israel's role in the Middle East does not excuse the atrocities they have committed against the Palestinians. The US should also avoid supplying weapons to a country knowing that it would likely be used against a civilian population.

The US provides aid and funding to plenty of countries with strings attached, this is no different. The United States has the power to demand Israel to end its cruel treatment of Palestinians, it simply has not done so.