We have all watched in horror as thousands of civilians are killed and displaced in Gaza, in response to the atrocious attacks by Hamas in Israel on 7 October. As Quakers in Britain we have felt compelled to speak out and take action and Friends across the country have too.
But it also can be hard to know what to do in the face of such overwhelming violence. We've received many questions about how we can witness for peace at this time. Here are some of the variety of actions Friends can take:
1. Contact your MP
Emails to MPs do make a difference. Pressure from constituents changes government policy, particularly in times of crisis. EAPPI UK & Ireland has a Take Action page where you can find template emails that only take a minute to complete and call for, among other things, an immediate ceasefire and release of hostages. If your MP is already speaking out, write and thank them. It can be hard to speak publicly on these issues. Your support will encourage them to keep doing it.
2. Show public solidarity
Attending public events such as protests and vigils shows those on the receiving end of violence that they are not being forgotten. And it shows our leaders that we will keep on turning up and speaking out until policy is changed.
There are a regular protests and vigils being planned around the country calling for an end to the violence in Palestine and Israel. We know some Friends have felt hesitant about attending protests in recent weeks. We have put together some advice on attending protests on Palestine and Israel (PDF).
Friends wishing to organise their own vigil can find guidance on the Quakers in Britain website (PDF) on how to do so.
3. Provide a space for discussion, reflection, and sanctuary
Meeting houses can provide a much needed space for discussion, reflection, and sanctuary during times of crisis. Some Quaker meeting houses have opened near protest routes to provide a quiet and safe space for those who need it. Others have hired out their rooms to groups wishing to plan events or discuss what's happening in Palestine and Israel.
We've received an increased number of questions from meeting houses in recent weeks as Friends try to make informed and often quick decisions about who to hire their rooms out to. Here are some of the key principles we use to guide our room lettings in relation to Palestine and Israel (PDF), and which might be helpful for you as you make your own decisions.
4. Educate and share our resources
EAPPI UK & Ireland has a number of resources on their blogsite from eyewitness accounts and a list of Palestinian and Israeli organisations working nonviolently for peace, to a brief history of the occupation. Our Peace Education team has also developed resources including a pack for teachers wanting to talk about Palestine and Israel in schools.
You can help others understand what's going on by sharing these resources. You can also find out about and share our latest actions and resources by following us on social media:
5. Join with others
Quakers are at our best when we work in community with others. There are many groups out there doing inspiring work either nationally or locally to help end the violence and the occupation of Palestine.
Keep an eye out and search on social media for other groups in your area (including faith groups) speaking out on this. Reach out to them, share their resources, and show your support by attending their events. You don't have to do this alone.
A reminder of Quakers in Britain work on Palestine and Israel
Quakers in Britain manages EAPPI UK & Ireland which is the UK and Ireland office of the international Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel. This programme sends trained human rights monitors to provide a protective presence in Palestine and accompany Palestinians and Israelis working nonviolently for peace. The programme advocates in the UK and Ireland on human rights abuses. Our monitors witness and advocate for a future in which the military occupation of Palestine (the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza) has ended and both Israelis and Palestinians enjoy a just peace with freedom, dignity and security based on international law.
Here are some of our public statements which outline the Quakers in Britain position on the violence since 7 October:
- Quakers in Britain are shocked and deeply saddened by the major escalation of violence in Israel and Palestine
- Quaker organisations call for a ceasefire and humanitarian protections in Gaza