Image Alt
 • Palestine  • Opinion Piece  • Pennies for Palestine || Opinion Piece By Suhad Shtayyeh
Pennies for Palestine

Pennies for Palestine || Opinion Piece By Suhad Shtayyeh

As videos of demonstrations the world over surface on social, we keep a vigil that the tide is turning, for once in the favor of the people of Palestine, only to be rudely awaken by the US’s veto of a Gaza humanitarian ceasefire at the Security Council on Friday December 8th, 2023. Just in case we needed further convincing, Joe Biden emphasized once again that he is a Zionist at a recent Hannukah event. It’s at times like these that the painfully true words of Naom Chomsky come to mind, “part of the tragedy of the Palestinians is that they have essentially no international support. For a good reason, they don’t have wealth, they don’t have power, so they don’t have rights. It’s the way the world works. Your rights correspond to your power and your wealth. I mean they get statements of support but nobody is going to do much for them.” The leaders of the world have thrown pennies at the Palestinian cause, empty words of support, or worse; deafening silence.

So where does that leave us? Demotivated and disillusioned, ready to pack up our voices and head on home to real life, which we left on pause approximately 70 days ago.

In my very first article, I focused on the passion behind the support for Palestine. This heightened sense that catapults us forward and encourages us to act. Catapult being the operative word, it requires strength and energy, it would be fair to say that we are all a little exhausted which is what the US and the State of Israel are banking on, our exhaustion.

Resistance, in all its versions is an opposing force to a current and the push is real. It is a stressor, leaving us quite depleted. It’s unfortunate that our activism on social media is indeed a form of resistance, with the lack of free speech and blanket censorship of anything related to Palestine, the push to demonstrate that we are in fact human, and deserving of human rights is debilitatingly tiring.

But there is more that we can do, it may not be direct, it may be the longer route, but it does have impact. I have been averse to boycott for the longest time, it’s not that I don’t believe in it, but rather I don’t like the underlying energy of it. To me it is negative and defensive, and it just wasn’t for me. During these two months at CIIN Magazine; my online publication we have tried to tow the line between the mission behind the brand and our responsibility towards Palestine. I am not one to thrive on hate, and so the traditionally ‘Destroy Starbucks’ and ‘Destroy Zara’ of late, doesn’t appeal to me, opting to share brands that support Palestine as opposed to those that need to be boycotted. I have always promised our followers and readers a paradigm of empowerment and positivity, one that I had to find in the midst of this onslaught on my people of Gaza.

What came to mind was what I have coined; the power of my penny. Regardless of how financially secure you are, your penny counts just as much as anyone else’s. The analytics coming out last week have reconfirmed the fact that boycott does in fact work, Starbucks has never seen a deeper fall in value, and Puma will no longer endorse the Israeli football team. For Puma it took more than 5 years to achieve this, the contract starting in 2018. This is really the long haul, which means we need to be in a comfortable psychological place, it needs to feel good for it to be sustainable.

We need to be convinced, which means that we need to educate ourselves on what it is exactly that we find meaningful. It needs to be personal and the spectrum is quite wide. Do you believe in BDS, or are you more attuned to the disempowerment of large corporations that actively support Israel every single day of the week, every month, every year. If you aren’t clear on your objectives it is unlikely that you will stick with them. Consider it an assessment at the gym, or at a nutritionist’s office. What is your goal and how do you plan on achieving it. Which is why our usual judgmental selves need to be shelved for the sake of Palestine. How quick we are to have an opinion on how others express their activism, a futile activity which leads nowhere. Like most personal decisions, with time, once they become habits, one stops feeling obliged to share with others, because it’s no longer something you are actively working at, it comes naturally.

It is uncomfortable at first, but the power comes from the amount of time you are able to dedicate to research. We really are creatures of habit, so once you have identified your new coffee joint, your new face serum (because really almost everything is made by L’Oreal) this negativity and discomfort makes way for empowerment. As I personally walk past yet another conveniently located Starbucks at the mall (because let’s face it, they have the funds for a prime location) it isn’t even on my radar any longer. I know where I am headed, to the local joint around the corner, I have purpose and I have power in my penny. The most important thing is that the coffee tastes good because otherwise this is going to be a very short-term exercise.

This is where we need to get to, whether you want to financially and emotionally support a Palestinian orphan, 25,000 of which have been created in the last two months, or you choose BDS or any other form of activism this is your prerogative. You just need to be consistent to affect real change, and this consistency can only come from a sense of empowerment.

So what fuels this empowerment? Injustice unfortunately, the events of the past two months have been apocalyptical, which is originally a Greek term meaning, ‘revelation of the true state of things,’ a topic my dear friend Sahar Aloul broached in her penned open letter to the international community titled, ‘The Masks are Off’. Add to that the Hannibal Directive of the IOF, which is essentially a free for all. You see Israeli soldiers delighting in the destruction and death of my Palestinian people and it all makes terrible sense, to these people we are sub-human and it is this revelation that will fuel our actions.

I have mentioned the butterfly effect once before, a theory highlighted to me by my dear colleague Alaa. How small actions call effectively create big change, and I believe that this is the way forward. As Queen Rania of Jordan posted a few days ago, every small action helps. And that is ultimately what it is about, small, consistent, sustainable actions, every day of the year. As many before me have said, what next after the war, and to me there is only one way, give power to your penny, get comfortable in the discomfort of economic activism and with God’s speed we shall effect real change for our people of Palestine.