By Eileen Joy and Meryl Fraser.
Earlier this month members of the Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work Journal issued a plea for Justice for Palestine. Sadly we note that our plea must remain, that Palestine is still under bombardment and the genocide of Palestinians continues apace. In that plea we noted the weak responses of both the International Federation of Social Workers and our own professional association the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW). We also said that we would follow up our plea with a list of actions people could take. We know that many fellow social workers are likely to feel a sense of bewilderment, horror, and confusion about what is happening and these feelings can lead to paralysis. That paralysis is often accompanied by a sense of helplessness. Here in Aotearoa it might seem that there is nothing you can do. Hopefully this list will help you – and others – realise that there is a lot you can do.
But first I want to start with the words of Brittany Packnett who was writing in 2018 about the death of a young Black woman in the United States. These words have been shared anew via Instagram in recent weeks. I share them to frame this conversation:
This means we have to work together. This means that solidarity is a verb. This is about working together, it is about kotahitanga to achieve rangatiratanga, both are values embedded in the ANZASW Code of Ethics – these are values that social workers in Aotearoa should be very familiar with.
Given that what can solidarity look like when we are in Aotearoa – miles away from bombs and genocide? What follows is a non-exhaustive list of things you can do – and I encourage you to add things to this list in the comments section.
- First up, see here for an informative google document about Palestine, Abolition and Social Work. There are a lot of resources here that you can use to educate yourself and others, which leads onto the next point!
- Educate yourself about the situation and the long history of Palestinian struggle, how Israel was established on Palestinian land. Be clear in your head about the difference between Hamas and Palestinians and anti-Zionism and critiques of Israel versus antisemitism. It is frustrating when people say they do not know enough to comment and then do not bother to educate themselves – having said that there is nothing complex about opposing genocide or apartheid.
- Push back against incorrect framing. This isn’t a war. It’s not a conflict. Israel is not defending itself when it slaughters unarmed civilians.
- Follow Palestinians on social media, read books by Palestinians. Social media will allow you to see what is happening in real time. Know also that this can be distressing and upsetting, so you may need time out, but do not let that make you turn away from solidarity.
- Take all the actions you are capable of taking – posting on social media (this is not performative, Palestinians are literally asking people to do this). This also means signing petitions, go to marches, write emails to your MPs, (find yours here) give money to campaigns, take part in boycotts. The feeling of helplessness is by design – we are supposed to feel that way so we don’t recognise the power we hold, especially when we come together.
- Make the connections between the violent colonial oppressor of Palestinians and other Indigenous peoples are the globe, including here in Aotearoa.
More specific actions:
- Sign this petition for the NZ government to demand an immediate ceasefire
- Purchase from Palestinian owned business – see here for a place where you can buy an assortment of items and part of the purchase goes to donating meals to children in Gaza.
- Go to this Link-tree for more petitions and actions you can take.
- Download this app – Halal Kiwi – Apple or for Android – which can show you what foods are halal but also contains a list of companies that have supported Israel in various capacities so you can make more informed consumer choices.
Remember you can make a difference. We can stand together. Millions of people around the world are calling for a ceasefire, for a radical rethink about the occupation of Palestinian land. You can and should join those calls for action. Solidarity is a verb, take action. Do the mahi. Fight back.