"...Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse,
as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human
rights should be protected by the rule of law..." - Universal Declaration of
As the world witnesses yet another chapter in the never ending Palestinian-
Israeli saga, it seems the political gridlock is so complex and the media spin
so intense that even seasoned observers and actors are at a loss for a script
that will end this all to lengthy story. For Palestinians, the pains associated
with this latest distraught chapter in our history are not new, albeit the
forthcoming outcome may prove fatal.
A source of strength to those living under occupation is the renewed calls
from all corners of the world asking for advice on how they may support the
legitimate and irrevocable Palestinian rights to freedom, statehood and
Being the recipient of many of these requests, I attempt to provide a modest
resource framework for those living in the U.S., and elsewhere. Being born in
the U.S.; having lived and worked there for 30 years before relocating to the
West Bank; and having been part of the movement to change public opinion
and safeguard Palestinian rights, I am aware of the paramount task before
us. After 9/11, this task has been undoubtedly increasing exponentially.
We must acknowledge that historically, and today, the Palestine Liberation
Organization and the Palestinian National Authority have utterly failed to
systematically and institutionally engage Palestinians in the Diaspora and
those non-Palestinians in solidarity worldwide. This is a distinct missing link
in the Palestinian struggle for independence in comparison to the successful
anti-Apartheid movement of South Africa or even the successful worldwide
Jewish mobilization to build Israel.
In the spirit of "thinking globally and acting locally," one factor in today's
Middle East chaos is clear -- it is past time for the grassroots to rise to the
occasion and make their voices heard. Unfortunately, in the age of the
Internet many well intended supporters of human rights spend too many
precious hours behind the keyboard and not enough effort is spent speaking
and engaging churches, synagogues, classrooms, congresspersons and
media editorial boards. The Internet is a godsend tool in our global village,
but decisions are still made in closed rooms with real people that represent a
matrix of interests. Employing of the Internet tool is only one facet to a
successful campaign for Palestine, the more potent action is returning to the
ABC's of people's action.
I offer the following resource framework for all those who have expressed
support to stopping the illegal Israeli military occupation. More important
than the resources below is the need for everyone interested in supporting
the Palestinian cause to become active in their local community by joining
the numerous organizations active in this area. Individual action is
necessary, but nothing replaces collective efforts.
Education and Awareness
Different consistencies relate to Palestine in different ways. To focus on the
aspect of Palestine you're interested in, I urge a visit to
www.birzeit.edu/links/index.html, which offers a comprehensive
directory of Palestinian websites that range from government to business to
Our national struggle is embedded in history and international law. For an
excellent site that provides both the historical background of the issue as
well as references for the related documents and official positions, the
Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations website at
www.palestine-un.org and the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of
Global Dialogue and Democracy- MIFTAH at http://www.miftah.org provide an
excellent resource. Likewise, the official PLO's Negotiations Affairs
Department may be found at, www.nad-plo.org, and addresses the
current political issues.
Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition at www.al-awda.org is
another excellent resource for the issue of the Palestinian Right of Return,
which is often labeled as the issue that negotiations broke down on. Another
largely forgotten issue is that of Palestinian political prisoners. ADDAMEER
(CONSCIENCE) Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association aims to
disseminate information on this issue and may be found at
A superb official site is the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS)
which may be found at www.pcbs.org. This site has statistics on
almost any issue related to the Palestinian society.
One of the many Israeli organizations, B'Tselem, The Israeli Information
Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories at
http://www.btselem.org, deserves mention here given its unfettered
monitoring and reporting Israeli violation of human rights over the last 13
years. B'Tselem has published excellent newspaper inserts and flyers that I
recommend any community action to order or download and use in their
dissemination of information. Another excellent Israeli site is Gush Shalom
Information on all of these sites are excellent for self-learning and are
professionally prepared for distribution at public events or to be used as
flyers at rallies and the like. Media
During our times it has become clear beyond any doubt that the media is a
key factor in molding political opinion. Media is an animal that requires
billions of dollars and skilled personnel to tame. Unfortunately, the
Palestinian movement has never been able to fully utilize the power of the
media in a central way. Thus, decentralized local media efforts are
absolutely critical to fill the gap.
During the first Intifada and during this Intifada, Israel has hired very
expensive and high-powered professional public relations firms in New York
to deal with their desire to justify their illegal occupation and cruel aggression
on Palestinians. The Israeli government utilizes U.S. taxpayer aid to employ
a mini-army of multi-lingual spokespersons that tow the state line and
provide the required thick cover to Israel's gross violations of human and
To address this gap in resources, the current Intifada has gone online at
www.electronicintifada.net and at
www.pmwatch.org/pmw/main.html. These professional, media-
oriented, sites specialize on the media and are invaluable resources that
may be utilized by all those in solidarity. The media is much more than
sending letters to the editor or complaining that coverage is unequal or unfair.
Physical persons -- citizens, community leaders and clergypersons -- need
to knock doors and meet in a professional way with editorial boards and
foreign affairs corespondents to educate them on the issue and to demand
equal time and space, if need be. Building personal relationships and
becoming a source of objective information to media staff is a long process
that requires patience and persistence but will pay off in the long run. Every
opinion editorial placed in your local paper reaches hundreds of thousands of
people, whereas a forwarded email is flooded with the millions of other
messages and only available to the minority of people online.
Other sites that may be used to address the media are www.amin.org
where opinion editorials may be tapped and www.abunimah.org, which
is an excellent site to get sample letters and talking points.
Community and Political Action
At the end of the day, all education, awareness and media efforts must
funnel into a concentrated political action that is tangible. For the last few
decades, the powerful and greatly feared pro-Israel lobby, the American
Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), has instilled an indescribable
amount of fear into every level of U.S. politics. If you doubt this, please read
former U.S .Congressman Paul Findley's book They Dare to Speak Out :
People and Institutions Confront Israel's Lobby (Lawrence Hill Books; ISBN:
It is absolutely critical that every community personally meets with their
elected representatives and explains the seriousness of the situation and the
injustice and illegality of the Israeli occupation. Elected officials must hear
the 'other side' and know that there is also an electoral price to be paid for
blindly supporting Israeli occupation. These officials need to be advised that
the 'generous offer' that Israel supposedly provided in Camp David is no
where to be found, never documented, never presented. They need to be
reminded of International Law. They need be asked to take action to stop
illegal Israeli use of U.S. armaments on civilians in blatant violation of the
U.S. Arms Export Control Act and the Foreign Assistance Act.
With the Arab world handicapped in the lobbying arena, grassroots action
becomes a key component. Several organizations are professionally
specialized in this field and can provide help, namely, the Arab American
Institute at www.aaiusa.org.
Additionally, the organization Stop US Tax-funded Aid to Israel Now!
(SUSTAIN) at www.sustaincampaign.org is a well focused effort and
resource to address a major U.S. sore spot which is their continued, blind
funding of Israel in spite of the role these funds play in the illegal occupation.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) at
www.adc.org is another long-standing organization that provides an
institutional framework for channeling US support to Palestinian rights.
During this holiday season, I strongly urge that every community request
their local church, mosque or synagogue to dedicate a service to those
Palestinian children that have been killed by the Israeli occupation forces
during the last 15 months. Names of those killed could be read aloud, along
with their age, during the service. If you live in a community with
Palestinians, maybe Palestinian children can light a candle for each one of
the names read. We must never forget that there were bubbling lives and
bright smiles behind each of the numbers being tallied on the nightly news.
The Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO) at
www.pngo.net offers the focal point for all Palestinian Civil Society
organizations. These Palestinian NGO's are in need of funds and support.
Their activities are broad and their resources are being drained, especially in
the healthcare, children and education fields. With the inability of the
Palestinian National Authority to function under the Israeli siege and
closures, these NGOs fill an important gap to the average citizen under
With regards to the health sector, in specific, the Palestine Red Crescent
Society at www.palestinercs.org, which is our equivalent to the Red
Cross, The Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees at
www.hdip.org, and the Union of Health Work Committees which may
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org are all doing excellent work in the field
attending to those injured and are all worthy of support.
On the humanitarian front, The Society of In'ash El-Usra, a well known and
long-time service provider to families in need is still active and may be
reached at, 970-2-240-2876.
Education in the Palestinian society is just as important as water, shelter
and clothing. Israel knows this and exercises pressure on the academic
world to perpetrate a silent exodus from Palestine, a 'voluntary transfer'
policy, if you will.
Palestinian schools and universities, a partial list of which may be found at
www.birzeit.edu/links/snu.html, are attempting to operate in one of the
most volatile conditions ever. Continuous Israeli bombing raids and closures
interrupt elementary and secondary schools; teachers are not able to make
it to their classrooms, thus interrupting the educational process; and
students are subjected to harassment while travelling to and from their
Institutions of Higher Education are even worse off with many of the students
not able to travel to attend class or forced to literally climb mountains and be
subjected to inhumane treatment at the numerous Israeli checkpoints, let
alone those that have been imprisoned. Many will not graduate on time.
Even more will not be able to afford the extra cost of lost time and added
expense to continue.
Student bodies and organizations abroad can build sister university
relationships with Palestinian universities in an effort to expose the
ramifications of Israeli occupation on the academic world as well as provide
material support by means of books, journals, equipment, etc to help the
next generation of Palestinians gain a proper education.
Economy and Business
Israel has yet to face a divestment campaign, as was the case with
Apartheid South Africa. While it continues to illegally occupy Palestinian
lands and livelihood, Israel funds its actions by selling Israel Bonds. These
bonds have been downgraded more than once and as the Israeli economy
fails during this Intifada so does the value of these bonds. Hundreds of
private and public U.S. funds have invested in these financial instruments
which are out of sight to the public eye. I urge community action to
investigate and expose municipalities, pension funds, 401K plans, and the
like, that have chosen to invest in these bonds and take action to have them
re-invested in instruments that are not stained with Palestinian blood,
occupation or gross violation of human rights.
Closer to home, Palestinian investors entered the Palestinian economy full-
force following the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords. At the time, two major, fully
private sector, investment groups were created, mainly by Palestinian
Diaspora funds, the $200 million Palestine Development and Investment Ltd.,
located at http://www.padico.com, and the $100 million Arab Palestinian
Investment Company, located at www.apic-pal.com. Despite the
treacherous business environment, these holding companies, and others,
still exist and remain active today, dealing on a day to day basis with the
disastrous ramifications to their business due to the Israeli aggression and
The Palestinian private sector is usually a group that people do not think of
while Israeli aggression rages on. However, the Palestinian private sector
deserve recognition and grassroots support as well. These are the entities
that fight all odds to build an economy while under fire. They provide critical
jobs during periods of extended closures and economic destruction. I have
coined a phrase to describe the kind of support that one may provide this
sector, "charitable equity". Charitable equity is the act of investing in these
firms, or others active within Palestine, with the clear intention to help
sustain their existence and jobs and potentially, in the long-term, to regain
your investment once stability returns.
One way to invest in charitable equity is either by direct investment into non-
publicly traded firms or buying shares on the Palestine Securities Exchange
at www.p-s-e.com via the network of brokers throughout the West
Bank and Gaza Strip.
Others ways to help our economy is to assist Palestinian products or
services to reach your market. For those interested in importing Palestinian
goods or services they may contact the Palestine Trade Center at
www.paltrade.org. In the information technology sector Palestinian
software and Internet firms may be reached through
The above list is neither comprehensive nor an official approach to tapping
the wealth of resources that can be employed by those who support us
around the world.
In addition to this starting point of action, I urge my fellow Palestinians to
speak loud and clear to Palestinian representatives, at home and around the
world, in an effort to develop a national plan of action, well funded and
professionally staffed, to channel international support. Collectively we can
turn the final page of our struggle and bring the occupation tumbling down
and in its place the free State of Palestine, or New Palestine, that so many
have sacrificed for over the last 54 years will rise.
Together, we will end Israeli occupation, once and for all.
December 19, 2001
* Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American living in the besieged Palestinian
City of Al-Bireh in the West Bank and can be reached at