How to Talk to Your Kids About Palestine/Israel and the Resistance Movement – A Resource Guide
Current Events
Oct 11, 2023
Image source: Pexels
By Eram Uddin
It is narrated that the Messenger of God (saw), who said: “The believers in their mutual kindness, compassion, and sympathy are just like one body. When one of the limbs suffers, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever.”
The recent attack by Hamas against Israel and resulting declaration of war by Israel in the Gaza Strip has led to numerous casualties and injuries. As this escalates, our children will undoubtedly hear and see the horrors it brings. Many already are. This is the latest in a long line of brutality, violence and oppression going back decades, bringing forth difficult conversations with our children over and over.
How do we do these conversations? What are appropriate things to share? Below is list of helpful resources to discuss with your children.
Educating ourselves and our children opens the dialogue for understanding, critical thinking, and, most importantly, Prophetic empathy and our religious duty to stand for justice and with the oppressed – wherever they may be. It is with hope and prayer that this resource list can facilitate and help our kids navigate tough conversations on the current crisis among their peers with integrity of faith.
Above everything, we need to demonstrate to our children the Prophetic teaching that among the best of actions when one is unable to physically correct a wrong is to hate it in our hearts and make sincere du’a/supplication for the situation we seek to change. The lesson to impart to them should be that God is the Disposer of all affairs and He is the One we place our trust in.
We are reminded by our dear brother, the late Sohaib Sultan, who was the Muslim chaplain at Princeton University (God have mercy on him), in a beautiful prayer he made for the Palestinians in a 2014 Time magazine article, that in the end, God is always with us and hears us:
“May innocent children, women, and men who are victims of our collective evil rest in peace as they return to the One who is all-loving, most kind. May they experience an eternal life of bliss where they will never again have to hear another explosion or experience another painful wound. May their loved ones who are left behind find the inner peace and fortitude to live on. May God forgive us for our evils here on earth and for our lack of compassion, courage, and wisdom in these times. May God grant us strength and patience and show us the enlightened way of forgiveness, reconciliation, and peaceful coexistence. Amen.”
Image source: Pexels; photo by Brett Sayles.
A note to parents and educators: It’s best to be informed of multiple perspectives before speaking about the conflict with your children/students. The resources listed have been categorized by topic for ease of reference. Most are all applicable to high school age and above. Resources for younger children are specifically mentioned. However, every child’s grasp may vary on exposure to the topic; parents should use their better judgment as to what they feel would be appropriate for their child.
General Resources
1. How Do We Talk To Our Children About Palestine: A great starting point with advice on how to speak to your kids on Palestine from a Black American woman who opposes the apartheid regime in Israel but also advises a nuanced approach in discussing with your kids the situation.
2. Palestine - Conversations with Our Children: Offers good talking points for Muslim parents of younger kids. and includes important topics for kids to understand.
3. How to Talk to your Children about Palestine: Good advice and talking points for Muslim parents of younger kids. Includes important topics for kids to understand.
4. Discussing Palestine-Israel: A Simple Language Guide for Palestine Activists: As Israel launches yet another major military offensive against the 2.3 million residents of the Gaza Strip, Muslims and others will want to show their solidarity with the oppressed people of Palestine. However, it is important to understand how to voice your protest in a way that is responsible and most importantly, that serves to support, rather than undermine, the cause of Palestine. This is a short guide on how we should navigate this sensitive discussion
5. List of Children’s Books on Palestine (fiction and non-fiction)
6. Palestine Legal: For students facing consequences either from their school or outside entities for uplifting Palestinian rights and humanity.
7. War, Islam, and the Sanctity of Life: Non-Aggression in the Islamic Code of Combat:
This Yaqeen Institute article by Hassan Shibly, Chief Executive Director of CAIR-Florida, focuses on the second part of Islam’s just war theory: the specific rulings that prohibit the excessive use of force. These rules safeguard the lives and properties of civilians and the environment, mandate that prisoners of war be treated humanely, and forbid any military tactics involving the use of torture or terrorism.
8. Jihad in Islam: Just-War Theory in the Quran and Sunnah: This Yaqeen Institute article documents the principles of just war as they appear in Islamic source texts, and it places the classical Islamic legal framework on warfare in its proper historical context. The final section offers a detailed analysis and rebuttal of common “proof-texts” used to malign Islam as a politically aggressive, violently expansionist or war-mongering religion.
Spiritual/Uplifting Resources and Prayers
A Chicago protest of the occupation a few years ago. Photo by former HH Social Media Specialist Bayan Fares.
1. Prayer of the Oppressed: (excerpt) Inspired and adapted from the Prayer of the Oppressed (Du'a Al-Nasiri). The Prophet (saw) said: "Beware the supplication of the oppressed, for there is no barrier between it and Allah (S)."
The Power of this prayer of Imam Muhammad alDarÏ lies in its simplicity, its purity, and its sincere supplication. It is essentially a plea to God that our transgressions be overlooked, that divine mercy be bestowed upon us, that social justice be restored in spite of us, that wrongs be righted, and that righteousness reign once again in our lands, so that the destitute may no longer be in need, the young may be educated, the animals' purpose fulfilled, rain restored, and bounties poured forth.
It is a plea to be freed from the aggression of foreigners in lands over which they have no right a plea much needed in our modern world, rampant as it is with invasions and territorial occupations. Ultimately, it asks not that our enemies be destroyed, but simply that their plots, and the harm they cause, be halted. Its essence is mercy, which in turn is the essence of the Messenger of God, Muhammad (saw): "And We have only sent you as a mercy to all the worlds. Let us continuously raise our hands in prayer, and through our actions, strengthen the change that we are all seeking."
(Good for 5th grade and up. Full version available for purchase with commentary by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf at Mecca Books.)
2. Learning Courage from Palestine and Our Predecessors: Friday Khutba by Shaykh Omar Suleiman.
3. From the River Song by Muad and Zayaan: In the midst of the ongoing Palestinian genocide, Muad and Zayaan resiliently vocalize the words from the soul of every being whose heart lies with Palestine. Muad’s words encapsulate the Palestinians’ unwavering faith in God despite the occupation and trauma they have faced at the hands of Israel for over 73 years. From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free. Good for elementary age and up.
4. Look Into My Eyes: This is a song by Outlandish that captures the daily brutality Palestinians face through theatrical performance by children. It's an emotional video while still remaining upbeat. Good for elementary age and up.
5. Gaza Song by Native Deen: This powerful song is about Gaza and the struggles its residents experience. Good for elementary age and up.
6. Road to Palestine Song by Khāled Siddīq: This song is about the struggles and determination of Palestinians and asks listeners to place themselves in their shoes.
7. Reflection and Du’a for Palestine
Grounded with reminders from the Quran
Dr. Omar Suleiman shares a beautiful reflection and du‘a for Palestine in these turbulent times. Concludes with much needed advice that encourages us all to take courage and speak out and not to be afraid in doing so.
8. Malcolm X’s Moral Courage and the Challenge of Palestine:
Dr. Omar Suleiman explains that Malcolm X’s example in speaking up for the Palestinians shows us how moral courage works.
Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem; photo by HH Blog Writer Danah Shuli.
Historical References
1. The Palestinian Struggle Through the Prophetic Lens: This is a relatively recent article by Dr. Ovamir Anjum and Dr. (Shaykh) Omar Suleiman. This is a great article for understanding the religious and historical context of the Palestinian struggle and can aid discussions from a historical and faith-based position.
2. Makan: This is a Palestinian-led political education organization in the UK that strengthens voices for Palestinian rights globally. It explains the struggle in a comprehensive manner with short educational video clips, articles and other online resources.
3. Conflict in Israel and Palestine: Crash Course World History 223: An excellent video that presents a concise but thorough historical overview of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by author and historian, John Green. He presents the complicated history and current conflict with facts in under 13 minutes. Good for Upper Middle school and up.
4. Israeli Palestinian conflict explained: an animated introduction to Israel and Palestine Created by Jewish Voice for Peace. Excellent intro to the modern-day conflict. Easy to understand and historically accurate, this is a mini-primer about why Israelis and Palestinians are fighting, why the U.S.-backed peace process has been an impediment to peace, and what you can do to make a difference. This conflict is essentially about land and human rights, not religion and culture. It is endorsed by Palestinian, Israeli and American scholars and peace activists. Good for 5th grade on up.
5. Story of Palestine by Eman Askar: The Story of Palestine folk song can jumpstart a conversation with kids. The song uses rhythmic lyrics to illustrate the history of Palestine and the illegitimate Israeli occupation. It presents historical accounts in a simplified manner that may be beneficial when speaking with children. Using the song as a starting point will also allow your children to ask you more specific questions if they wish to. Good for elementary school and up.
The Current Violence and Crisis
1. There is nothing surprising about Hamas’s operation: This op-ed piece by Somdeep Sen on the recent crisis that gives an overview of what led to the current crisis. The author references historical events and current living conditions in occupied Gaza. It's imperative to know to understand the “why” and what led to the recent violence.
Palestinians search for survivors after an Israeli airstrike on buildings in the refugee camp of Jabalia; image source: Twitter and Mohammed Abed / AFP via Getty Images.
2. How to respond to pro-Israeli and Zionist sentiments to the current crisis: A recent interview with Dr. Yasir Qadhi on this question and Jordan Peterson's recent tweet.
3. Your kids’ questions on Israeli-Palestinian violence, answered: Very informative and thoughtful answers to questions from young teens regarding the conflict. It presents a broader progressive American Jewish perspective on the conflict than the Zionist perspective that is being pushed out by mainstream media. Good for 8th grade and above
*The Forward is an influential American Jewish publication with a politically progressive editorial focus and showcases a broad range of perspectives. One of its columnists, Muhammad Shehada, is from Gaza and wrote powerfully about what it’s been like to watch the latest violence unfold from Sweden, where he is studying.
4. Is Israel Guilty of Apartheid Against Palestinians? A concise explanation of Israel as an apartheid state by looking at specific conditions for apartheid and whether they truly apply to Israel or not.
5. The Conflict Zone: In a new series of four, eight-minute videos, National Geographic Explorer, Aziz Abu Sarah, meets with people from both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to better understand and communicate how this international dispute impacts their everyday lives. Use these videos to give students a broader understanding of both the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the concept of conflict resolution. Good for upper middle school and up.
6. Terminology being used in the current conflict; interview with Dr. Omar Suleiman on Israel and Palestine: A great explanation in which Shaykh Omar Suleiman explains that the current crisis is not a religious issue. He makes distinction between Zionism and Jews and the politicization of the terms, including its impact on Palestinians.
7. Promises Documentary: Emmy award winning documentary that humanizes the conflict. Available to rent/buy on Apple TV | Amazon. Study Guide with Lesson Plans available for teachers. Rather than focusing on political events, the seven children featured in "Promises" offer a compelling human portrait of the Israeli and Palestinian conflict. The film draws viewers into the hearts and minds of Jerusalem's children by giving voice to those captured by the region's hatreds as well as those able to transcend them.
Audiences will engage with Palestinian and Israeli kids, coming to know them as multi-dimensional people, not as stereotypes perpetuated by the mainstream media. Good for upper elementary and up.
How are you talking to your kids about what's happening in Palestine/Israel? Do you have any resources you use? Share with us in the comments below.
Eram Uddin is an educational consultant specializing in curriculum and program development with a background in social justice and multicultural education. She also works as the editorial coordinator for Publications at Zaytuna College. She holds a BA in History from Ohio State University and a Masters degree in Education from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Eram is also an active community organizer in Detroit, Michigan and is a founding board member of a local educational religious non-profit, Beacon Foundation. She lives in metro-Detroit with her husband and three children.
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