UK Friends of Standing Together @omdimbeyachadUK

Dr. Shahd Bishara: “True liberation requires resistance to all forms of oppression”

The below statement was written by Dr. Shahd Bishara, a member of the national leadership of Standing Together, for the UK Friends of Standing Together rally which took place on 7 July.

I am Shahd, a Palestinian Arab and a citizen of Israel. I am a member of the national leadership team of Standing Together.

My identity and my journey have been deeply influenced by the prolonged suffering of my people, the Palestinians, who have lived under occupation and military rule for decades. The 1948 Nakba marked the beginning of a tragic chapter in our history, leading to hundred of thousands of refugees, countless deaths, and a collective trauma that remains unhealed. Today, we face what feels like a second Nakba, the massacres, mass killing and the famine. While hearing discussions of expulsion, and re-settling Gaza. This situation has instilled a profound sense of fear and hopelessness amongst Palestinians, including myself.

Despite these challenges, I believe in the possibility of peace. Peace is not merely the absence of war; it is the recognition of the rights and dignity of all who live here. It requires cooperation, listening, and understanding the needs and desires of all groups involved. The question now is how to rebuild trust between Israelis and Palestinians after the horrors of 7 October. Most people here do not want endless war; they want peace and security. Extremists from both sides must not dictate our future.

Our role as a mass Jewish-Arab grassroots movement is critical. We must exert public pressure to stop the war, end the disaster, and release the hostages. Only we, the people who live here, can achieve this. Our ultimate goal is to create public pressure that leads to negotiations for peace and a political agreement. The occupation will not end without most Israelis recognising it as in their interest, and Hamas will not be defeated without most Palestinians believing in a horizon of hope. We must convince them that their dreams can come true and change the political agenda.

Personally, my struggle for personal freedom as a woman in a patriarchal and a conservative society, is intertwined with the struggle for the freedom of the Palestinian people. True liberation requires resistance to all forms of oppression — be it based on gender, ethnicity, religion, or nationality. Activism in Standing Together helped me find my voice and transform my own anger into strength. Through solidarity and perseverance, I believe we can create a better future.

Our conflict is complex, with pain and trauma on both sides. To build trust and achieve reconciliation, we must open our hearts to each other’s narratives and listen genuinely. Real change happens when ordinary people fight for justice in their everyday lives. We must be brave and take small steps forward together to find a new way.

I call on all of you to join us in this struggle for equality and justice. Our story must be heard, and we must not remain silent in the face of injustice. Let us work together to build a future based on mutual understanding, not on supremacy and discrimination. Demand a ceasefire and hostages deal now!