Palestine Resource Guide
Many of us have family members and friends in Gaza and are being personally impacted by this horrific situation. We, along with you, are in pain.
Below is a list of resources you can use to take action, provide support for those affected, and protect yourself as you make these efforts.
Urge Congress to Support Ceasefire on Gaza Now
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is urgently calling on all Americans who value peace and justice for all people to reach out to their members of Congress and request the following actions in response to the ongoing violence in Israel and Palestine:
- In the U.S. House of Representatives: Co-sponsoring and supporting the Ceasefire Now Resolution, championed by Representatives Cori Bush, Rashida Tlaib, André Carson, Summer Lee, and Delia C. Ramirez.
- In the U.S. Senate: Support the introduction of a Senate companion to the Ceasefire Now Resolution.
- Acknowledge the loss of lives and recognize the humanity on both sides, including Israelis and Palestinians.
- Demand that the United States reassert its leadership role as a negotiator in pursuit of a lasting peace. This includes addressing the root causes of violence and ending Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and its apartheid policies.
10/23 Update: At the start of the outbreak of violence, CAIR initially aimed for 1,000 messages to Congress, but it has since received over 60,000 responses of its call to action, resulting in more than 200,000 emails sent to members of the US House and Senate by supporters. We now challenge all those who care about Palestinian lives and wellbeing to take action 80,000+ times, sending at least 250,000 messages to Congress.
Suggested Talking Points + Supporting Facts
- Unequivocal support for Palestine, for the people of Palestine, and their right to a free, unoccupied homeland. Express deep solidarity and condolences to the Palestinians in Gaza and the remaining occupied territories.
- Belief that every human life has intrinsic value, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, or religious beliefs and that you:
- Oppose the ongoing bombing and killing of civilians in Palestine.
- Oppose the killing of civilians in Israel.
- Unequivocally condemn the targeting of civilians as a war crime.
- Extend your condolences to the families of those impacted by the violence, including Jewish, Palestinian, and Muslim Americans.
- Belief that if the international community offers the Palestinian people a true path to freedom, justice, and a dignified life, then peace and stability can inevitably follow.
- One-sided, biased statements from schools, universities, organizations, elected officials, and media outlets and emphasize that every innocent life is sacred, valuable, and should be protected; every life, not just Israeli lives.
- Blatant disregard from elected officials regarding the Palestinian people’s suffering in Gaza at the hands of Israel. Call on them to meet with Palestinian human rights advocates to gain a deeper and more balanced perspective on the decades-long struggle the Palestinian people have endured.
- Islamophobic statements conflating violence in the region with Muslims and Islam.
URGE CONGRESS TO:
- Acknowledge the loss of lives and recognize the humanity on both sides, including Israelis and Palestinians.
- Express support for an immediate ceasefire.
- Demand that the United States reasserts its leadership role as a negotiator in pursuit of a lasting peace. This entails addressing the root causes of violence, terminating Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, and ending the Israeli government’s apartheid policies.
- Reiterate our belief that if the international community offers the Palestinian people a true path to freedom, justice, and a dignified life, then peace, and stability can inevitably follow.
ASK SCHOOLS, COMMUNITY COLLEGES, AND UNIVERSITIES TO:
- Adopt a balanced view that ensures a welcoming and safe environment for students of all backgrounds.
- Issue a statement affirming the pain and suffering of the Palestinians—especially the more than two million Palestinians in occupied Gaza, half of whom are children—and who have been called “human animals” by Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.
- Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine began in 1948, when what is known as the Nakba or the “catastrophe” occurred, resulting in 750,000 Palestinians being displaced.
- Over the past 75 years, the Palestinian people have experienced immense suffering, displacement, and a 15-year-long inhumane siege and blockade in Gaza, which has been described as the world’s “largest open-air prison” by human rights organizations. The blockade, which has been ruthlessly imposed by Israel by land, sea, and air has effectively deprived Palestinian residents of freedom of movement and crippled Gaza’s economy. It has severely restricted access to basic human needs, like food, clean water, electricity, and medicine. Israel’s war crimes against Palestinians of all faiths have been well documented by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, B’Tselem, and others who have unequivocally declared Israel an apartheid state.
- Israeli leaders and advocates acknowledge Israel’s occupation is like South African apartheid. The former head of Mossad (Tamir Pardo) said recently: “There is an apartheid state here…In a territory where two people are judged under two legal systems, that is an apartheid state.” The world rallied around Black South Africans, acknowledging their right to freedom. The Palestinians should be afforded the same right.
- Gaza, which human rights organizations have described as “the largest open-air prison” due to an ongoing 15-year-long inhumane siege and blockade, is home to two million Palestinians, most of whom are refugees from villages and towns occupied by Israel. The United Nations has called Israel’s aggressions in Gaza and the Occupied West Bank “illegal under international law” and a “substantial obstacle to peace.”
- Palestinians have endured decades of dehumanization and annexation and continue to be persecuted under the apartheid system of the Israeli occupation. The immediate uproar when Israel faces an attack is in stark contrast to the shameful silence in the face of Israel’s brutality toward the Palestinian people for over 75 years. Palestinians are no different than any other people—they want to live free and with dignity on their own land.
- The killing of children has been justified across the West, including by the United States, which has funded the illegal occupation for decades and recently gave Israel the green light for a major military operation in Gaza. Israel’s campaign on Gaza has leveled entire neighborhoods, killing over 8,000 people, more than 60% of them women and children, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
- Hamas is a byproduct of the occupation; the group formed in 1987—almost 40 years after the dispossession of Palestinians began in 1948.
- The death toll of the conflict in Palestine-Israel is disproportionately borne by the Palestinians. Between 2008 and 2021, at least 5,739 Palestinians and 251 Israelis were killed. According to the UN, the conflict has taken the lives of 23 Palestinians for each Israeli. Over the same time period, at least 121,438 Palestinians and 5,682 Israelis were injured. It is essential to keep in mind that the Palestinian people have endured decades of dispossession, dehumanization, and annexation under the illegal Israeli occupation and apartheid system.
- The only way to permanently stop these cycles of violence is to end the Israeli government’s illegal occupation of Palestine, which kills hundreds of Palestinian civilians every year and subjects millions more men, women and children to systemic, racist oppression, and also takes the lives of Israeli civilians.
- Every life is valuable: Israeli, Palestinian, or any other; however, this compassion and attention is only given to Israelis and not the Palestinians.
Template Letters to K-12 Schools, Higher Education, Employers, and Elected Officials
In the wake of Israel’s recent assault on Gaza, many schools, universities, employers, and elected officials have released one-sided statements of support for Israel. These statements fail to acknowledge the dispossession of the Palestinian people under the illegal Israeli occupation and apartheid system or their humanity as they are bombarded and killed by Israeli forces.
We know that these blatantly biased statements can be extremely upsetting and damaging to the Muslim and Palestinian communities, so we created downloadable templates you can fill out and send to your school, university, employer, and elected officials. Download the templates below:
FOR STUDENTS AND PARENTS
- Higher Education Letter to Schools Regarding Palestine
- Parent/Guardian Letter to Schools (K-12) Regarding Palestine
FOR THE CIVICALLY ENGAGED
*These templates constitute suggested material to empower you to advocate on behalf of yourself and/or your child. Please note that they do not constitute legal advice. Please use your personal judgment to adapt the content to your particular case. If you need more direct assistance, please contact our Civil Rights Department at email@example.com
Know Your Rights: Protesting
Protesting is an important way to exercise your right to free speech and to make your voice heard on issues of importance to you. However, it can also be intimidating, and so we encourage you to familiarize yourself with your rights before you and your loved ones go out to protest with community members.
SAFETY AT PROTESTS
What to Wear:
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): be sure to wear adequate masks to protect from COVID-19;
- Comfortable clothes and shoes that can protect from pepper spray or tear gas;
- Shatter-resistant eye protection (i.e. goggles, sunglasses, gas mask).
What to Bring:
- Extra clothes and PPE in case you get contaminated with pepper spray/tear gas.
- Water and snacks.
- I.D. and emergency contact information.
- Prescription medication.
- Basic first aid.
- Wet wipes and tissues.
- Enough money for a payphone, food, and transportation.
- Wear contacts. This may cause damage if you get attacked with tear gas.
- Put Vaseline, mineral oil, oil-based sunscreen or moisturizers on skin as they can trap chemicals.
- Go alone. Go with people you know well and trust.
- Wear things that can be grabbed (i.e. jewelry, hair ties, loose hair).
RIGHTS WHILE ATTENDING A PROTEST
- Your rights are strongest on the streets, sidewalks, and parks. You also likely have the right to speak out on other public property, like plazas in front of government buildings, so long as you are not blocking access to the building or interfering with other purposes. Freedom of speech protects the content of your speech, no matter how unpopular.
- Freedom of speech does not protect slander, libel, obscenity, “true threats”, or speech that incites imminent violence or breaking the law.
- Megaphones and bullhorns may be used. Permits may be required for music, drums, and loudspeakers. As always, check local ordinances for permit information.
- Counter-protesters also have free speech rights. They cannot physically disrupt the protest they are against. Police must treat both groups equally. Police are permitted to keep antagonistic groups separated but should allow them to be within sight and sound of one another.
- When you are lawfully present in any public space, you have the right to photograph or video anything in plain view, including federal buildings and the police. Owners of private property may set rules related to photography or video.
- Police officers may not confiscate or demand to view your photographs or video without a warrant. They also cannot delete data under any circumstances. However, they may order you to cease activities that they determine are interfering with law enforcement operations.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE POLICE STOP ME?
- Stay calm. Make sure to keep your hands visible. Do not argue, resist, or obstruct the police, even if you believe they are violating your rights. Point out that you are not disrupting anyone else’s activity and that the First Amendment protects your actions.
- If you are stopped, ask the officer if you are free to leave. If the answer is yes, calmly walk away.
- If you are detained, ask the officer what crime you are suspected of committing, and remind the officer that taking photographs is your right under the First Amendment and does not constitute reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.
- If you are under arrest, you have a right to ask why. Otherwise, say you wish to remain silent and ask for a lawyer immediately. Do not say anything or sign anything without a lawyer. Refer to our list of resources below for legal assistance when arrested.
- You should never consent to a search of yourself or your belongings. If you do explicitly consent, it can affect you later in court.
- Police may “pat down” your clothing if they suspect you have a weapon and may search you after an arrest.
- Keep phone numbers on your person (i.e. write them on your arm) in case you are detained and arrested. You are allowed to make up to three local phone calls if you are arrested. A parent with custody of minor children can make two additional calls to arrange childcare.
- If you are arrested for an infraction and you have a valid I.D. on you, the police must give you a ticket and release you on the spot unless you refuse to sign the ticket.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU BELIEVE YOUR RIGHTS HAVE BEEN VIOLATED
- When you can, write down everything you remember, including the law enforcement officers’ badge and patrol car numbers and the agency they work for.
- Get contact information for witnesses.
- Take photographs of any injuries.
- Once you have all of this information, you can file a written complaint with the agency’s internal affairs division or civilian complaint board.
If you have questions or believe your rights have been violated, please reach out to CAIR Oklahoma’s Civil Rights Department at 405.415.6851 or click here to report an incident.
Know Your Rights: Freedom of Speech and Assembly
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution generally guarantees that those within our borders have the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, including partaking in protests and demonstrations. However, those rights are not absolute, and they may differ based on the time, place, and manner of the activity. The following information offers general guidelines to help you navigate your right to freely express your beliefs in different settings. Note that this information does not constitute legal advice and you should contact your CAIR Oklahoma office for more direct support.
- The First Amendment protects your right to express your beliefs, even if your viewpoint is unpopular or controversial. This means that you have the right to criticize United States foreign policy or any government or government representative.
- All types of expression are usually protected in “public forums,” like parks, sidewalks, and streets, or other areas where the public has been granted access, like the front of government buildings.
- Private property owners, however, are permitted to dictate their own rules that may limit free speech.
- The right to freedom of speech doesn’t extend to defamation, obscenity, “true threats,” or speech that incites imminent violence or law-breaking.
- Remember, your right to freedom of speech and assembly also means that counter-demonstrators are afforded the same rights, as long as they are not physically disrupting your activities or engaging in a prohibited type of activity.
- You generally have the right to protest in public forums, including streets, parks, sidewalks, and plazas, although there may be time, place, and manner restrictions – and so long as those restrictions are viewpoint and content-neutral. This means that protests can’t be restricted based on the content – no matter how offensive it may be to a particular group.
- Certain types of events, like marches or parades, that require blocking traffic or street closures, or require the use of sound amplifying devices, may require permits. And although you will need to submit permit requests in advance of your event, police cannot use these permit procedures to prevent protests in response to breaking news events.
- For other activities that do not obstruct traffic or pedestrian traffic, you generally do not need a permit to assemble, march, or protest in public spaces.
- You do not have the same right to assemble on private property and private property owners can restrict the type of activity and speech on their premises.
- When you are lawfully present in any public space, you have the right to photograph anything in plain view, including federal buildings and the police, as long as you are not obstructing police work. The same freedoms can be restricted on private property, where owners may set their own rules related to photography or video recordings.
- If permit regulations require you to pay a fee, waivers may be provided to those who are unable to afford the charge.
- Public colleges and universities can regulate the time, place, and manner of speech in public forms – so long as those restrictions are reasonable and viewpoint and content-neutral. This means that students generally have the right to invite speech they wish to hear, debate speech with which they disagree, and protest speech they find bigoted or offensive.
- Even when schools believe they have the right to restrict your speech, they can only do so to the extent necessary to avoid a specific harm. Valid restrictions can include:
- Requiring advanced notice of a protest on campus
- Requiring groups to obtain permits
- Restricting your activities to a certain space on campus
- Enacting specific registration policies that all students must follow
- You generally do not need a permit for activities like holding up signs, picketing, leafleting, or petitioning for signatures when done in open, public areas of your campus – so long as you are not disrupting school activities, like classes, or blocking people or traffic.
- Campus policies that require you to obtain a permit must contain exceptions for spontaneous responses to unfolding events.
- Speech that amounts to targeted harassment or threats, or that creates a pervasively hostile environment for vulnerable students is not protected.
- For more resources regarding students’ rights, please see CAIR-National’s Guide, which can be found here.
If you believe that your rights have been violated, document everything you can, including the names, agencies, and badge numbers or patrol car numbers of any involved law enforcement agents. Get contact information for witnesses and take photographs, videos, or screenshots of any concerning statements, incidents, or resulting injuries. Contact your legal representative as soon as possible to discuss your options.
Community Alert: FBI Targeting Palestinians For Questioning Following Escalations in Palestine and Israel
CAIR Oklahoma has received concerning reports that FBI agents are questioning Palestinian community members and possibly others regarding the recent tragic events in Palestine and Israel. Please be advised that CAIR-OK strongly advises you against speaking with any law enforcement agent, whether local, state, or federal without first consulting with an attorney.
The following is important information regarding your rights when speaking with law enforcement. Please contact CAIR Oklahoma to report any communications from a law enforcement agent, including from the FBI. You can reach CAIR’s Oklahoma office at 405.415.6851 or by filing out an incident report here.
You have the right to remain silent.
You are not obligated to answer questions from an FBI agent. Your refusal to talk to the agent may not be used against you. You can simply state, “I am exercising my right to remain silent and will not speak with you without consulting an attorney.”
You always have the right to request an attorney’s assistance.
You should refuse to answer questions until you have had a chance to speak with an attorney. Even if you have already started talking, you can stop at any time. Tell the agent you do not want to answer any more questions without a lawyer present.
Tell the truth, or remain silent. Lying can be a crime.
It is a felony to make a false statement to an FBI agent if it is related to an investigation, even if the false statement was unintentional.
Sometimes, forgetting your dates of travel or when you last met or spoke with a particular individual can be used against you as a basis for prosecution. An attorney will work with you to make sure this doesn’t happen.
Asking for an attorney does not make you more suspicious.
Some people mistakenly believe that it is okay to speak to law enforcement voluntarily since they know they have nothing to hide. The vast majority of FBI interviews are fishing expeditions – meaning agents are searching for any information that can facilitate ongoing investigations, surveillance, and wrongful profiling against our communities. Remember that anything you say to a law enforcement agent can, and most likely will, be used against you or family members or friends. Help protect yourself and others in your community by remaining silent.
You are not necessarily in trouble.
Just because an FBI agent has contacted you does not necessarily mean that you have done anything wrong or that you are under investigation. The FBI has been known to target Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern, and South Asian communities for questioning, even when there is no suspicion of a crime. But you should still take care to protect your rights.
Don’t talk about your religious and political views.
You are not required to discuss your political and religious beliefs.
Report Bullying + Harrasment
With the blatantly biased news coverage of Israel’s assault on Gaza and many organizations releasing one-sided statements of support for Israel, Muslims and Palestinians may find themselves the targets of bullying and discrimination. Click here to read CAIR’s Guide to Bullying and Bias in School.
To report any bias incidents, contact CAIR Oklahoma’s Civil Rights Department at 405.415.6851 or submit an incident report.
Educational Resources on Palestine
American Muslims for Palestine
Palestine Children’s Relief Fund
Middle East Eye on Palestine
Human Rights Watch on Palestine
Institute for Middle East Understanding
Local News Coverage
OKC Fox 25: Oklahomans Rally in Support of Palestine, Call for End to Violence Amid Middle East Crisis
The Oklahoman: Oklahoma City Muslims Speak Out Against Treatment of Palestinians in War-torn Gaza
The Oklahoman: Imam: Violence is not the answer. Collective punishment is not the answer
Channel 2 Tulsa: ‘Genocide’: Oklahoma Muslims call out Israeli civilian attacks on Palestinians
The Oklahoman: Jewish, Muslim faith leaders denounce xenophobia during OKC council meeting
News on 6: ‘Put Yourself in Their Shoes’: Tulsans Stage Protest in Support of Palestinians
Tulsa World: Dozens rally in Tulsa to support Palestine