Five days ago I read an article on the BBC news app that has shaken me so much that I’ve pretty much not stopped crying since. Khalil Khader lost 11 members of his family in one single strike on 20 October including his four tiny, precious children.
I am not pro-Hamas in any way and I am not anti-Israel, but I am pro human life, pro peace and anti human suffering.
I am so shocked and upset about the human tragedy in Gaza that I have not been able to think about very much else. I can honestly say that no news has ever affected me so much. I feel guilty for living my care-free life with my two tiny (safe) children, with my roof over my head, food, water, gas, electricity, communications. And importantly, no rockets coming for me, and I can leave at any time.
So I’ve been spending time online to see if there is ANYTHING that I can do to help. I’ve spent a lot of time signing petitions, have made a donation and I’ve written to my MP.
And then I thought: I have a website about ethical and sustainable fashion with around 35,000 wonderful readers a month. These are people who care about important issues, if they didn’t they wouldn’t care about ethical and sustainable fashion. Maybe they’d like to know about some of the ways to help Palestinians that I have found. And so maybe I can help even more by spreading the message.
So that is why I’m writing this article. I need to do something for my own sanity. It can’t bring back those tiny, innocent children or the thousands more that have died but I hope that even in some small way it can do something good.
Petitions worth signing to help Gaza
I thought about setting up my own petition but realised that it is much better to support one of the many established petitions out there that already have traction.
I’m highlighting here some of the biggest petitions that have the most support so far (links are in red in the headings).
This petition #ceasefirenow hosted on change.org is supported by large organisations including Oxfam America. It had received nearly 800,000 signatures as of 5 November with over 12,000 signing just that day. It was vetoed by the UN Security Council on 25 October when it only had 360,000 signatures. It needs to reach one million for the next step.
UK Government petitions
In the UK, petitions on the UK Government and Parliament site with 10,000 signatures get a response from the government. Petitions with 100,000 signatures are almost always debated in Parliament.
Bear in mind that these were all started at different times so the number of signatures so far can reflect this. This is not an exhaustive list but the ones with the most support so far.
Check out the UK Government and Parliament Petitions website for more petitions. You will need to do a search with the appropriate term (e.g. Palestine, Gaza etc.) to find relevant petitions. And you need to confirm a link in your email to submit your signature.
This petition had over 210,000 signatures as of 5 November.
This petition had 192,000 signatures as of 5 November.
This petition had around 146,000 signatures as of 5 November.
This petition had just over 8,000 signatures as of 5 November.
This petition had just under 8,000 signatures as of 5 November.
This petition had around 2,100 signatures as of 5 November.
This petition had around 1,100 signatures as of 5 November.
Where to donate money to help palestinians
This is a very controversial area as many fear money falling into the hands of Hamas to be used for terrorist means. However, the following large charities and aid organisations are on the ground trying to help citizens in Gaza (links are in red in the headings):
The Occupied Palestinian Territory Humanitarian Fund directly supports a wide range of partners to aid the highest priority humanitarian issues.
The World Food Programme is trying to provide food to the people of Gaza who are desperately in need. Due to fuel shortages, only one of the 23 bakeries they were working with is now producing bread. Enough for 20,000 people.
They also estimate that 40 food trucks are required every day. You can donate to them to help them get emergency food and water to the people who desperately need it.
Islamic Relief have been working in the Occupied Palestinian Territories since 1997. This appeal is focused on providing urgently needed medical supplies and survival items to Palestinians working with local partners. They are also working to provide nutritional, educational and psychosocial support.
UNICEF are particularly concerned with the large number of children caught up in the conflict and are calling for an immediate ceasefire. For more information on what they are looking to achieve, this is copied from their website:
What is UNICEF calling for?
UNICEF continues to press world leaders at every occasion for humanitarian access to the whole of Gaza, including children and families in the north of the strip which is increasingly cut off. To respond to the dire situation for children in the State of Palestine and Israel, UNICEF is calling for:
- An immediate humanitarian ceasefire.
- The immediate, safe and unconditional release of all abducted children.
- All access crossings into Gaza to be opened for a safe, sustained and unimpeded access of humanitarian aid, including water, food, medical supplies, and fuel.
- Urgent medical cases in Gaza to be allowed to leave or to be able to receive critical health services.
- Respect and protection for civilian infrastructure such as shelters and schools, and health, electric, water and sanitation facilities, to prevent loss of civilian and children’s lives, outbreaks of diseases, and to provide care to the sick and wounded.
Write to your MP
Your MP is the person that represents you and your views to the UK government. The UK Parliament has a page about how to write to your MP and the Find MP service helps you find who you need to get in touch with.
It’s important to include your full name, address and phone number for them to be able to consider your email or letter (to make sure that you actually are one of their constituents).
Support Palestinian businesses
Another small thing that we can do to support the people of Gaza is to help them economically and support their businesses. I’m planning to create a more comprehensive list of sustainable fashion businesses from Palestine that we can support. However, in the meantime, I’ve found these articles summing up some great Palestinian businesses that we can support (links in the red in the titles):
I’m sure you can do your research to to find many more worthy brands to support. Please let me know if there are any you’d like me to highlight.
How to help yourself
This might seem like a strange section to add but if you are feeling overwhelmed and desperate about the situation, I get you. There are resources out there to try and help you manage your emotions. These are the ones that I have found helpful:
- The Mind article Coping with distressing events in the news sets out some coping strategies that you can use.
- Mental Health UK has a similar useful article Tips to look after your mental health during scary world events.
- This article on a blog called Wove Therapy Coping with distressing news in the media is also really helpful and reassuring.
Personally, some long chats with friends and family about how I feel have helped me realise that I am not going insane and that being upset about these events means that I am actually normal.
I was also really heartened to come across this website: https://www.artists4ceasefire.org/ with an open letter to President Biden from a huge number of celebrities calling for an immediate ceasefire. These include the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Selena Gomez, Ewan MacGregor, Joaquin Phoenix and many, many more. We are not alone in our feelings of frustration and desperation.
I’ve also signed up to a newsletter about and called Positive News. I’m looking forward to getting this into my inbox every week and the magazine delivered quarterly. Even finding out about its existence made me realise how much we focus on bad news and that we all need to hear positive news too to help us cope with the bad.
Finally, signing petitions, writing to my MP and making a donation have helped me feel that my voice can be heard and that I can do something. I am fortunate to be able to write this article too.
I hope that you have found it helpful, and that it reflects that my feelings are not in any way anti-Israel or pro-Hamas. As I said above I am pro peace and pro human life. If you have any more suggestions of things that I should include, please get in touch.