Sally Abed is Resource Development Director of Standing Together in Israel.
We have witnessed truly violent and painful events in the past few weeks. However, it the middle of really difficult times, and despite the incitement, racism, and polarisation efforts, we have also felt a sense of hope.
Thousands of Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel have stood together, in hundreds of locations throughout Israel, and demanded a ceasefire, end to the occupation, equality and freedom for all. We have also seen more Jewish citizens than ever coming to mixed cities like Jaffa, Haifa, and Jerusalem to express their solidarity with the Palestinian citizens of these cities, and particularly in Sheikh Jarrah [a district of mainly-Arab East Jerusalem where residents face eviction].
In addition to people taking on the streets, we have seen unprecedented initiatives through our local chapters. Our members have conducted tens of “house meets”, discussion groups, and strategic planning groups to better understand what are the next steps.
Following the ceasefire, we were able to mobilise one of the largest end-the-occupation and Israeli-Palestinian peace protest in years. With over 3,000 protestors, from Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Rahat, Bei’er Shiva, Nazareth, Haifa, Jerusalem and more, we were able to prove one thing: There is a peace movement in Israel.
The message was clear: The majority of the people that live here want an end to the occupation, they want peace, security and freedom. The only way for us to make our voices heard, and make our demands a reality, is through Jewish-Arab partnership. We have also partnered in organising the women’s strike and protest last week in collaboration with amazing feminist groups and activists, where hundreds of women participated nation-wide.
The mobilisation has also affected our digital audience. Our digital reach is more impactful than ever. Our social media impact has nearly quadrupled, our newsletter subscription has increased by nearly 70%, and our membership platform has also increased significantly. Much Standing Together content has become viral with hundreds of thousands of shares and millions of views.
The response of Jewish-Arab solidarity and partnership is unprecedented. Not only within this region, but historically. Dimitry Chomsky, a historian who studies Zionism and the Israeli society and is a professor at the Hebrew University wrote an op-ed in Haaretz, where he explains that modern national territorial conflicts never succeeded to build a grassroots movement that was able to contain both national narratives. He then says that what Standing Together is doing is really unprecedented, and is a pillar of hope.
At Standing Together, we acknowledge the complexity of our task, but strongly believe in our methodology. We have been organising Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel for six years, locally, nationally, and on campuses, and we do not plan to stop.
While we understand that these events have created a harder, more polarised reality for us to work through, we also know that given the nature of the events within mixed cities, we will never go back to the status quo.
On 9 June, we held our first Jewish-Arab conference in Kufir Manda in the north, with tens of lectures, workshops and discussion groups.
The Palestinian students on campuses were very reluctant to come back. Some have reported to us that they are afraid. (One student had her dorm door “marked”). Our student organiser has been conducting personal meetings with students, in addition to accompanying chapter leaders to lead nation-wide synchronised events on campuses.
We are recruiting new local organisers: One in the Triangle area, and one for the Tel Aviv-Jaffa area (including Lod and Ramla). The goal is to increase our organisational abilities in those areas, through introductory meetings, local activities and trainings.
We do not simply mobilise. Standing Together is the only grassroots Jewish-Arab political movement in the Israeli Left that is building methodological training in the theories of community organising towards social change.
After the ceasefire, now is exactly the time to organise people, and harness the energy of everyone that was mobilised to the streets in the past few weeks.