Gaza, Media Literacy, and What We Can Learn from Solidarity Statements

Just wanted to share a few good links and a specific thought about how they’re all connected. For more background (especially if you’re looking for more foundational info/context about Gaza), you can also check out the bundle of links I’ve shared on my “recommended reading” page.

NDN Collective’s solidarity statement featuring the text “cease fire: settler colonialism is at the root of the violence in Gaza” + “read our full statement at” + an image of a silhouette holding up a Palestinian flag.
Jewish Voice for Peace’s solidarity statement featuring the text “JVP Statement: the root of violence is oppression” + “10/7/2023”
The Audre Lorde Project’s solidarity statement featuring the text “free Palestine: ALP stands with the people of Palestine and with all colonized & oppressed peoples fighting for liberation around the world” + an image of a Palestinian flag with brown fists raised.

The focus of this post is solidarity statements. Check out this guide from Building Movement Project that talks about what they are, why they matter, and questions/variables to consider when writing one.

That being said, it’s always important to first acknowledge and center statements (and specific calls to action) from groups representing, and/or connected to, the people most directly affected by an issue. In this case, that might mean looking to orgs like US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Students for Justice in Palestine, American Muslims for Palestine, Palestinian Youth Movement, Palestinian Feminist Collective, etc.—not necessarily as absolute authorities, since no one group speaks for all of the Palestinian people, but as crucial starting points. What news are they sharing? What are their calls to action?

As of this writing, those calls to action might include contacting elected reps to support a ceasefire and the opening of humanitarian aid corridors, attending a local march or protest to show solidarity and gain media attention, and doing more in-depth political education and narrative-shifting work in your community. Another call to action, especially for those of us connected to organizations, might be to write a solidarity statement. A few examples:

Solidarity Statements from Organizations:

NDN Collective: “As Indigenous peoples who carry hundreds of years of state-sponsored genocide on our backs and who have been dispossessed of our lands, languages, cultures, and identities by nation-states, we know that settlers fight with both weapons and words. They spread insidious narratives to trick people into believing that state violence is both necessary and justified. We must reject these lies at every turn. We must center humanity and harness the moral strength to hold multiple truths at one time. Settler colonialism is at the root of the violence in Gaza. A ceasefire, an end to the U.S. funding Israel’s military, and true Palestinian land rights and liberation are the path to peace.”

Jewish Voice for Peace: “The bloodshed of today and the past 75 years traces back directly to U.S. complicity in the oppression and horror caused by Israel’s military occupation. The U.S. government consistently enables Israeli violence and bears blame for this moment. The unchecked military funding, diplomatic cover, and billions of dollars of private money flowing from the U.S. enables and empowers Israel’s apartheid regime. Those who continue calling for ‘ironclad’ U.S. support for the Israeli military are only paving the path to more violence. From the U.S., there are no sidelines.”

Rising Majority (statement endorsed by orgs like Dream Defenders, 18 Million Rising, Movement for Black Lives, the Highlander Center, AORTA, and many others): “The deaths of at least 2,500 Palestinians and Israelis since October 8, is an unnecessary demonstration that Israel’s military occupation of Palestine does not protect human life. It does not protect the interests or lives of all peace and justice loving people, whether in Palestine or the world over. We hope that it can be recognized now that the only way for anyone of any ethnic or religious background living Occupied Palestine to be free is for the end of the Israeli apartheid state.”

Press release from “Jews and allies, including members of Jewish Voice for Peace-Twin Cities and If Not Now-Twin Cities:” “We oppose the deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure. We mourn for all lives lost in Palestine over the last 75 years. We believe in a just world. We believe in Tikkun Olam – repairing the world. We believe that ‘Never Again’ means ‘Never Again for Anybody.’ We believe that the path to justice starts with justice, not retribution. As Jews, we know that inevitably, oppressed people everywhere will seek — and gain — their freedom. We all deserve liberation, safety and equality. The only way to get there is by uprooting the sources of the violence. We believe in, and are committed to working for, a world where all life is precious.”

The Audre Lorde Project: “‘Every day that you sit back silent, refusing to use your power, terrible things are being done in our name.’ – Audre Lorde on Palestine. Please join us in calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza and an end to the US pouring resources and arms into Israel. We demand an end to the inhumane apartheid conditions that continue to compromise the safety and well-being of all civilians in the region. We must rise up and stand together against all forms of state-based violence, imperialism, and neo-colonialism.”

So many others to share, from the Asian American Feminist Collective, to the Transgender Law Center, to the Emergent Fund, and beyond. But this is a good first step.

UPDATE: one more that I want to share, not from a specific organization, but from a collective of organizers and activists working on many different issues: In Grief and Solidarity: a statement of solidarity with Palestine. Aside from just being powerful, it’s also a good example of how collectivity isn’t just about formal nonprofits or NGOs; it can be about other kinds of formations too.

What Can We Learn from Solidarity Statements?

Partly, I just wanted to share those because I think they’re worth reading, and they show how even when organizations don’t work full-time on a particular issue, there is power in making connections. There is power in showing up for one another. That’s movement-building.

But there’s another specific point I want to make here. While it’s been encouraging to see so many people share so much information on Palestine this month, I’m noticing how much of that information is sourced from individuals: And I don’t mean academics, journalists, or commentary from Palestine; I mean rando influencers, celebrities, anonymous Instagram infographic designers, talking heads on tiktok, screenshotted tweets, etc.

And to be clear, individuals can be brilliant. There are absolutely people out there who could be labeled “influencers” who are important voices in the narrative ecosystem. AND, at the same time, I wonder how the elevation of individual voices can be dangerous. Because while some tiktok commentators (not to mention poets, artists, and content-creators) are brilliant, others are literally just random people who happen to be good at getting attention. And in a media landscape that is already very difficult to navigate, I wonder if calling attention to organizational statements might be one tactic (among others) to find an “anchor” in all the noise.

Of course, no organization is perfect, and organizations are also capable of spreading misinformation or disinformation. The difference, however, is that *in a general sense* (and there are exceptions), organizations tend to be better-equipped than individuals to answer questions like:

  • How are you connected to the actual human beings in harm’s way right now? Are you?
  • Who is giving you feedback on your talking points or tactics?
  • Who is your audience? Is what you’re sharing with that audience aligned with a specific theory of change, or is it just calculated to get attention?
  • Is what you’re saying actionable? What is the specific ask?
  • Most importantly: Who are you accountable to?

I’m not sharing these thoughts to shame anyone or get anyone to act differently than they already are. We don’t all use social media the same way, and that’s okay. An authentic expression of grief, for example, doesn’t have to be “actionable.” I think about these questions less in terms of what we post, and more in terms of what we re-post/signal-boost/co-sign.

That idea’s been useful to me, and I hope it can be useful to anyone who is genuinely trying to learn more, make sense of what’s happening, and potentially get involved. It’s just food for thought; much less a “rule” or directive than just some questions to consider as we navigate the information landscape.

Relating All This to a Personal Practice

Of course, we’re not all representatives of organizations. Some of us are just individuals. But I think the concept of solidarity statements can be relevant to individuals too.

For example, so many of us feel the tension between “you’re not an expert so keep your mouth shut” vs. “YOU must personally speak out about every bad thing in the world.”

I try to remember that those aren’t the only two options. Note how individual-oriented they are. I think it’s possible to “speak out” without centering ourselves, without having to position ourselves as experts when we’re not, and that may include (1) signal-boosting calls-to-action from organizations, (2) sharing the solidarity statement of a group you trust, (3) sharing info on *local* solidarity events/marches, etc.

I’ve written about this kind of thing before: Beyond Hot Takes: How Can Social Media Meaningfully Support Movement Work? covers some similar ground. That piece sparked some good conversation about the role of silence in times of crisis. It’s like, if you’re still learning and processing, it’s okay to just not say or post anything. That’s always an option; I think that’s a defendable position. At the same time, in moments of global crisis, I also think it’s worth thinking critically about who benefits from our silence. Maybe it’s about reframing the act of speaking out from a “responsibility” to an “opportunity.”

In that spirit, I’ll close this out with a few other links worth checking out: