On November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 181 (II), a plan to divide Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state with the twofold aim of recognizing the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and the Zionist aspiration to establish the state of Israel.
However, the resolution was never implemented because a civil war between Arab and Jewish communities broke out paving the way for a decades-long conflict that is still ongoing.
The roots of the war trace back to the XIX century (here you can find a good summary of the conflict) but the approval of Resolution 181 (II) remains the key moment with which the international community officially committed to finding a long-lasting political solution for the area.
Since then, the project of a Jewish homeland had been achieved, but the same can’t be said of the state of Palestine and the rights of the Palestinian people.
That’s why, in 1977, the UN established November 29 as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, in the hope that a peaceful, two-state solution is still within reach.
“Only constructive negotiations between the parties, in good faith [...] will bring about a just and durable solution, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states,” commented the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres last week during the Special Meeting held to commemorate the day.
Since sometimes observance days are less about concrete actions than official declarations, here are five organizations that are active on the issue.
The UNRWA is the UN agency set up to bring essential services like education, health and food to the over 5,4 million Palestinian refugees who have lost their homes following the 1948 conflict, a mass eviction known as “Nakba.”
“It is important that we collectively safeguard the Agency against the political and financial challenges it faces,” warned UN General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande during the Special Meeting.
The organization is primarily funded by UN state members but it also accepts private donations.
Based in Ramallah, the Dalia Association is a Palestinian-run foundation that promotes community development through grant-making and other networking initiatives. For example, they bring together local people with different expertise to serve community purposes and reduce Palestinian’s dependence on external resources.
The association encourages local philanthropic initiatives too, reviving traditions such as mujawara and al Ouna, two forms of collective action for the well-being of all individuals living in the community.
Founded in 2012, Disarming Design is a design label that develops useful goods designed in Palestine in collaboration with local producers and artisans.
On their website, you can order a “checkpoint bag” that narrates the frustrating experience of having to go through exhausting controls daily, a saving pot made from Gaza clay (pottery is one of the oldest handcrafts in Palestine) or just make a donation to support their work and design workshops.
During the Second Intifada—a violent Palestinian uprising started in 2000—Israel built a wall in the West Bank for security purposes. Soon, the barrier turned into a tool to advance Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and, in 2004, the Red Cross condemned it as contrary to international law and cause of serious humanitarian problems.
Stop The Wall is a grassroots campaign aimed at tearing the barrier down, returning all lands confiscated for building it and repairing all losses.
In 1917, the British government issued a statement, known as “The Balfour Declaration,” promising the Jews a “national home” in Palestine as long as this didn’t “prejudice the civil and religious rights” of the Arabs living there. At the time, Palestine was still part of the Ottoman empire but, after World War I, it fell under English control.
The Declaration fueled the Zionist movement and the idea of a Jewish state to the extent that some historians see it as one of the main causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Balfour Project is a U.K. charity founded to learn what the Declaration meant for the Jewish and the Arabs and what were the political consequences of the British mandate in Palestine with the goal of fostering peace and justice for both peoples.
Credit header picture: Corine van Emmerik