Comment Features

Saying no to despair

Dan Rickman on the UK group supporting Palestinians and Israelis working together for peace

Campaigners holding a banner supporting peace in Israel and Palestine
Friends of Standing Together in Finchley Central

People who live in Barnet may have noticed a different sort of “demo” about Israel/Palestine in our streets over the past few months, with people in purple holding a vigil for peace. This group is the UK Friends of Standing Together, a grassroots movement mobilizing Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel in pursuit of peace, equality, and social and climate justice. 

For many of us, watching the tragic events unfold in Israel/Palestine since October 7th has been  traumatizing, especially for people who have family and friends in the area. The day itself raised many fears for Jewish people in Israel and around the world, the subsequent war in Gaza, and the ongoing situation with the hostages in Gaza, has led to much ongoing distress and suffering. 

The images of a devastated Gaza and civilian deaths and casualties, and the hostages, together with the videos taken of events of October 7th, have left us all with truly devastating visual  evidence of the violence and destruction involved.  

This has, understandably, led to very strong reactions around the world and increased the  despair, which can lead to saying that there is no way forward for the Israel/Palestine conflict. 

Such thinking, however, only helps the extremists on all sides, as they thrive on misunderstanding and seeing the other side as less than human. There is a danger that the demonstrations, “pro-Palestinian” and “pro-Israel” contribute to an ever-polarised debate and a “zero sum” view of the conflict, that one “side” must win and the other “side” must lose. 

Standing Together, and support groups around the world, are saying no to such despair. We  believe that most people, on all sides, have far more in common than that which sets them apart.  

Standing Together say on their website: “When we stand together, we are strong enough to fundamentally alter the existing  socio-political reality. The future that we want — peace and independence for Israelis  and Palestinians, full equality for all citizens, and true social, economic, and  environmental justice — is possible. Because where there is struggle, there is hope” 

This is not just wishes, Standing Together recently formed the “Humanitarian Guard”, which has stopped extremist attacks on aid trucks for Gaza, however, much more needs to be done. 

We have setup a UK Friends of Standing Together (FOST), to help promote their ideas, and there  is a Barnet FOST which holds a vigil, every Sunday, outside Tesco in Finchley Central. (On  Sunday 7th July, we will be with other Friends groups, at a larger rally in Parliament Square). 

If you want to know more about us and the essential work in promoting hope and a way forward,  please come and say hello, we would welcome the chance to explain further the vital work that  Standing Together, and other civil society groups in Israel/Palestine, are doing to find a way  forward that will work for everyone who lives there “from the river to the sea” 

You can also email [email protected] or check our Instagram

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