Media work for direct action
Drawing attention to your cause can be done even one person at a time (what I call single person demonstration). This can include for example handing out flyers at a busy intersection or in front of an Israeli consulate. It can even include simply wearing a button or a colored armband (black or yellow). When people ask you at work or while shopping what it is for, it provides you an opportunity to educate.
Palestinians engaged in creative demonstrations when they went on a cleaning campaign around the checkpoints and when they blew whistles and their car horns in Ramallah to protest the closure of Bir Zeit University. These can be extended to other forms of visible "noise making" to ensure that no moment of quiet is achieved for the occupier and oppressor that may give the feeling of acceptance of the injustice. Individuals can even inundate the offices of the occupation with phone calls, faxes and emails to complain about the occupation.
Activists and oppressed people can also simply refuse to cooperate with the oppressors. For example, the occupation needs cooperation of residents willing to pay taxes or abide by its rules. Refusing to do so is a form of resistance. When Israel annexed the Golan heights, the local population simply refused to accept Israeli annexation and rules and continued to identify themselves as occupied people. During the first Intifada, some Palestinians burned their identity cards. There are many ways for Palestinians to refuse to cooperate: they can refuse to:
- pay taxes and levies
- pay fines
- work in Israeli projects
- abide by the bureaucratic rules introduced by the occupiers
- participate in any activities organized by or including the Israeli administration or their collaborators
An extension of this is to occasionally do strikes and shut down all activities (going to school, work, shopping etc). This was engaged in for example in the Palestinian strike of 1936.
Obstruction is another creative way to make a point. Examples include Internationals and Palestinians laying in front of bulldozers and tanks to protect Palestinian property and the Christian Peace Maker Team members in Hebron who put their bodies between the army shooter and Palestinian civilians.
Again those engaging in this while non-violent may suffer violent repercussions. It is a sacrifice that they have to accept to show their love for the land and the people and their resistance to oppression and dispossession. The action draws attention to specific injustice and helps expose the myths and the lies of the oppressors.
One should try to hold events at times that include as many people as possible, preferably after office hours around 5 PM or on a weekend.. Our primary audience is the public in the cities in which these events are held. Thus visibility both of the event and of its coverage are paramount. This can be done by finding good visible locations and working with the Media (TV, Radio, and newspaper), writing to politicians and key opinion molders, and making the public aware. Example good locations would be at busy intersection near or in front of embassies and consulates, (addresses of Israeli missions are at http://www.embassyworld.com/embassy/israel1.htm), in front of city hall or federal buildings, the white house etc.
Every action aimed at altering public opinion should ideally have a dedicated media coordinator, whose job is to ensure that the activists' point of view reaches the wider world. In comments at rallies and to the press, it is important to be cordial and tell the truth. There is no need to exaggerate since there is an abundance of documented injustices, human rights abuses, murders and other violations taking place. Activists should explain that grassroots actions are important and when appropriate, point out that political leaders may not be truly interested in lasting peace or in justice. Agreements to come out of diplomatic activities must change the reality on the ground and allow refugee to return and not simply deal with a one sided security for one of the groups without addressing the injustice.
At demonstrations and rallies, it is important to have good public speakers. Other approaches would be to read the list of those killed, include a minute of silence; hold candles, sing, and chant. Don't be provoked by police or bystanders (negative media might be the result).
Make sure that you have a statement including demands for civilian protection etc and appropriate links (Addameer's site) handy for media persons. Assign someone to pass these demands out to journalists. Assign eloquent speakers as spokespersons to the press. If you have relatives in the area who are in danger, do share their stories with the media (making it more personal). The presence of a lawyer or two at the rally will be a big plus to insure that the police do not try to violate our rights and try to confine the protest.