Palestine/Israel 101


We recommend listening to at least two episodes of our podcast, Diaspora.

To learn more about Zionism, listen to  “What Is Zionism, anyway?”

To learn more about how Zionism impacts Palestinians, listen to “Keeping us from One Another”

We also recommend listening to the whole thing, which can be found on all podcast platforms.


About Palestine/Israel

Q: What is the struggle between Israel and the Palestinians about?

The violence between Israelis and Palestinians is often falsely presented as a conflict between two equal sides with irreconcilable claims to one piece of land.

In reality, this is a military occupation over an indigenous population of Palestinians by one of the world’s most powerful and well-funded militaries, an occupation that has been ongoing for decades.


The “Occupation” generally refers to the lands captured by Israel during the 1967 war that remain under Israeli military control, including the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and Gaza. Despite the partitioning of the West Bank into areas A, B and C following the Oslo accords to give some agency to the Palestinian Authority, Israel retains full military control over the territory, which is also home to nearly half a million settlers.

More broadly, the Israeli Occupation can be understood as a system of military rule under which Palestinians are denied civil, political and economic rights and subjected to systematic discrimination and denial of basic freedom and dignity.


The Nakba refers to the forced displacement of Palestinians that began with Israel’s establishment, and that continues to this day. Arabic for ‘catastrophe,’ Nakba is the word Palestinians use to describe the traumatic events of 1948 which resulted in the displacement of over 700,000 Palestinians.

It is impossible to understand the struggle in Palestine/Israel without understanding its context. For more information, visit Facing the Nakba.


Although Palestinian citizens of Israel are entitled to vote and participate in Israeli political life, and several Palestinians are members of the Knesset (the Israeli parliament), they do not receive the same treatment as the Jewish citizens at the hands of the government. Israel still applies over 50 laws that privilege Jews over Arabs (as documented by Adalah: the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights).

For example, the 1950 Law of Return grants automatic citizenship rights to Jews from anywhere in the world upon request, while denying that same right to Palestinians. Government resources, meanwhile, are disproportionately directed to Jews and not to Arabs, one factor in causing the Palestinians of Israel to suffer the lowest living standards in Israeli society by all economic indicators. Nearly 25% of Israel’s population is not Jewish.


In 2005 a coalition of Palestinian civil society groups issued a call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law. The Palestinian BDS call asks international civil society groups and individuals to use boycott, divestment, and sanction tactics until Israel meets its obligations under international law to:

  • End the occupation and dismantle the Wall
  • End discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel
  • Respect, protect and promote the rights of Palestinians to return to their homes

Jewish Voice for Peace is proud to be a part of the global, Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to end Israeli human rights violations. As signatories to the BDS call, we will continue to focus on those BDS campaigns we feel are most effective in building a broad-based movement for change. Our goal, and the goal of the BDS movement, is ending Israel’s ongoing violations of the rights of violations and setting the stage for a lasting and just peace.

For more information about the BDS movement, visit the Boycott National Committee’s website.


Pinkwashing is an explicit strategy taken up in recent years by the government of Israel to portray Israel as a leader in gay rights and a gay tourism destination to improve its human rights image while  deflecting attention away from the extreme violence of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Through a campaign called “Brand Israel,” Israel has tried to change its public image, promoting itself as a “modern democracy” – and projecting a “LGBT-friendly” image is just one part of this.