To all supporters of Palestine on Facebook: You’ve probably been wasting your time

By Maulana Ibrahim Khan;

If you’re the typical Palestinian support like me you’ve probably been posting all those pro-palestine pictures on Facebook for the last few days; you’ve definitely been embroiled in some heated debate with a zionist or two; you really care about the plight of the Palestinians and are liking and sharing everything like crazy. Well let me break some news to you – and you might not like it – but you’ve probably been wasting your time.

As Palestine supporters we need a big rethink of our approach: It’s not good enough to just post things to vent our frustration. We need to think carefully about how we invest our time and where it would be best utilised. If we have only 15 minutes a day to spend on this issue, is it more useful to Palestine to spend it debating endlessly with someone whose mind is made up anyway, and with a limited readership, or do something which uses our abilities in a creative and useful manner beneficial to Palestine? The likelihood is that the reach of our posts will be tiny, and the majority of our facebook friends will also be pro-Palestinian, meaning that our posts aren’t really changing anyone’s mind. All we’re doing is making ourselves feel a little better. But that isn’t helping those in Gaza and the West Bank at all.

Of course, changing opinion and raising awareness is vital, and it may well be that if you have a large facebook following then posting is the right action for you. But my point is simply this: every single one of our actions must be scrutinised for its effectiveness and its highly likely that facebook activity is not the most effective option for most people. A better – much less exciting – option may well be to work an extra 15-30minutes that day and give away the extra money to a Palestinian charity. Yes, you won’t get as many likes on your facebook as normal, but you will have done the thing most useful to those in Palestine.

Last year, a friend of mine who is a practising doctor who studied at Oxford, came up with the OxPal Project which utilises his unique talents to help deliver quality medical education to Palestinians. The project involves Oxford University academics and doctors tutoring Palestinians students via the internet, along with an annual on-ground course in Palestine. My friend’s making a huge difference and investing the same amount of time per week that other people invest in marginally-beneficial facebook debates

Projects like OxPal ( for more info on it visit: http://www.medicineafrica.com/node/23) are not much talked about as they don’t involve shocking images, but they’re the ones making the real difference. Palestine needs investment in infrastructure, political capital, and human capital. We all get very passionate during the biannual Israeli atrocities – and rightly so – but the real work goes on all year round.

Let’s take inspiration from this humanitarian project and do something really useful ourselves. Let’s use our talents effectively.

And please share this note, to make sure as many Palestine-supporters start thinking effectively.

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