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About ISM

Who We Are

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the long-entrenched and systematic oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian population, using non-violent, direct-action methods and principles. Founded in August 2001, ISM aims to support and strengthen the Palestinian popular resistance by being immediately alongside Palestinians in olive groves, on school runs, at demonstrations, within villages being attacked, by houses being demolished or where Palestinians are subject to consistent harassment or attacks from soldiers and settlers as well as numerous other situations.

All ISM volunteers must agree to work within the four founding principles:

  1. Palestinian-led – ISM’s role is to support the Palestinian popular struggle. When invited, we join actions initiated by Palestinian communities and groups engaged in grassroots activism. Although we do have Palestinian members in ISM, we are a non-hierarchical movement and do not have individual leaders. All ISM volunteers are expected to behave in a way that respects Palestinian culture.
  2. Nonviolence – ISM believes that nonviolent actions are a powerful tool in fighting oppression, occupation and apartheid, and are committed to the principles of nonviolent resistance. ISM activists abstain from all physical and verbal violence. The repercussions of violent words and actions would not only affect us as ISM members, more importantly it would affect Palestinian communities. Our non-violent approach does not mean that we have the right to dictate to Palestinians how to resist military occupation and apartheid.
  3. Consensus – ISM uses consensus in all decisions. Though the consensus process takes effort and time, this way of working leads to full participation, and ensuring that our actions are group actions, and no one is forced to be a part of any action they disagree with.
  4. Anti-oppression – ISM opposes any form of bigotry and supports full equality of all people. Within ISM we do not accept any form of oppression including, but not limited to, discrimination based on ethnicity, physical appearance, origin, gender, gender identity, sexuality, physical ability, age, and religion. This is to ensure safe spaces for all our volunteers, and that our actions, and the actions of those within ISM, do not serve to support or perpetuate other racist or bigoted behaviors, practices, or structures.

We expect all ISM volunteers to adhere to these beliefs and take a stance against Zionism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism and all other forms of bigotry.

As we demand that Israel acknowledges and respects international law and put an end to apartheid and its occupation, we must also stand firmly against any form of prejudice, regardless of the target. We oppose any form of bigotry directed at people based on ethnicity, physical appearance, origin, gender, sexuality, physical ability, age, religion etc. We support full equality of all people and expect all ISM volunteers to adhere to these beliefs and take a strong stance against anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and Zionism. In line with a 2012 Palestinian declaration, we object to the baseless use of the term anti-Semitism as a tool for stifling criticism of Israel or opposition to Zionism, partly as this falsely conflates being Jewish with support for an ideology, Zionism, or the colonial and apartheid policies of a state, Israel.

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Why ISM?

Apartheid is not going to be defeated by words alone; ethnic cleansing, segregation, oppression and domination are going to be dismantled the same way they were erected — through people’s action. The Israeli army and apartheid in Palestine can be defeated by strategic, disciplined unarmed resistance, utilizing the effective resources Palestinians can mobilize — including international participation.

International participation in Palestinian-led non-violent resistance is important for a number of reasons:

  • Message to the global mainstream media – the Palestinian struggle is far from accurately reported by the mainstream, corporate-dominated media. Israelis and Palestinians are portrayed as two equal sides which cannot live together, fighting over land. In reality, Israel’s apartheid regime challenges Palestine’s right to exist and is met with a Palestinian struggle for freedom, self-determination and human rights. It is the responsibility of the international community to demand accurate reporting.
  • Personal witness and transmitting information – international presence alone can offer relief of day-to-day harassment and violence, especially when documenting with cameras. International civilians joining Palestinians can bear witness and return home to talk to their communities about what is happening. Having witnessed the reality on the ground in Palestine, every volunteer can report about this reality in his or her home country, changing wrong conceptions and ideas about ‘the conflict’ – changing minds as a first step towards justice.
  • Break isolation and offer hope – the apartheid isolates Palestinians and cuts them off from the rest of the world and from each other. The presence of international citizens sends a message to the Palestinian community — “we see, we hear and we are with you”. The belief that non-violent direct action can successfully challenge the apartheid is a cornerstone of our philosophy and message.

Internationals with the ISM are not in Palestine to teach non-violent resistance. Palestinians resist non-violently every day. The ISM lends support to the Palestinian resistance to the apartheid and their demand for freedom through the following activities:

  • Direct action — participating in non-violent demonstrations, creatively disrupting activity by the Israeli occupation forces, accompanying farmers to their fields and residing with or near families whose homes are threatened with eviction, demolition or harassment by settlers.
  • Documentation — documenting and reporting to local and international media about the daily life under apartheid and countless human rights and international law violations by the Israeli military. The need for documentation is not just to show that there are illegal and unjust actions going on, but also to provide a real means of evidence for accountability to the police and courts, case by case.

Get Involved

ISM offers many ways for you to get involved in the struggle for Palestinian freedom. Whether you’re thinking of traveling to Palestine to work with us or you would like to work to educate your community about the reality in Palestine, we welcome your involvement.