Need for direct action
"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will." Mahatma Gandhi
"The first requisite for success is the ability to apply your physical and mental energies to one problem incessantly without growing weary." Thomas A. Edison
Some in the activist community use the term "direct action" for these events rather than demonstrations which is a term they would reserve for classical gathering people at a site, few speeches, banners, flags and son. Others use the general term "demonstrations" as a public display of group opinion (in our case to demonstrate injustice and work to reverse it). A public display can take many forms. Creativity in planning forms of visible demonstrations in fact has been common. These displays and actions can include marches, rallies, candlelight vigils, banner displays, singing, sit-ins, fasts, street theater etc. They can be silent or vocal. They can be lawful or intentionally break unjust laws (e.g. holding a demonstration after the government issues a rule banning demonstrations or trespassing on areas blocked by the army or a checkpoint).
Classic demonstrations are an effective means of letting an audience know of an injustice and thus provide pressure to reverse the injustice. Demonstrations have been the most commonly used method by the Palestinians in the past 100 years of struggle against the Zionist program. The audience is three groups: 1) supporters who need no convincing (this helps in mobilization), 2) the oppressors and their supporters to cause them to rethink their policies, and 3) all others who are either neutral or were leaning one-way or the other but not familiar enough to realize how much injustice is being perpetuated (education). Defining the audience is thus important. Understanding the motivation of even the soldiers or police we face would be important.
Even small demonstrations can be very effective if they utilize national media attention and are targeted to specific issues. For example, in Connecticut, about 20 demonstrators picketed Senator Joseph Lieberman's house as he was inside and was running for Vice President. The demonstrators were incensed at the killing of many Palestinians including the publicized killing of the child Rami Al-Durra in his father's arms in Gaza. Associate Press and local reporters covered the event. Here is what when commentator in the Harford Courant wrote about this event under the title "Senator Joe: What about Rami?"
" If ours were a thinking society, the image of a cowering Palestinian boy, first seeking cover from gunfire in his father's arms, then lying dead in the gutter, would stay with us. Through this action involving less than 20 people, we were able to make a point in the media, to the neighbors, and I also think to Lieberman (at least making him aware of our concerns). Direct action is hard work though and there are much material written on how to do it and all kinds on non-violent direct action that can be done. One site with such information is ACTUP http://www.actupny.org/documents/CDdocuments/CDindex.html
Would it move us to immediate action? Maybe not. But at a minimum, we'd reconsider our role in the Arab-Israeli conflict -- in the same way we rethought the Vietnam War upon seeing the image of a slight, naked girl fleeing the napalm attack that had already set her body afire. Still, there are some people of conscience in America.
On Sunday evening, 20 gathered peacefully in front of Joe Lieberman's rather grand, shuttered-up house on Alston Avenue in New Haven.
These members of the Palestine Right to Return Coalition (mostly Arab Americans) and the Middle East Crisis Committee (mostly Jews) weren't hoping for much -- just a few words.
They weren't even singling him out because he's the Democratic nominee for vice president, says Mazin Qumsiyeh, an associate professor of genetics at Yale. "But he is our senator."
Before they could get to the doorbell, a spit-and-polish-looking fellow with an earpiece, who had to be Secret Service but wouldn't say what he was, came out.
Middle East Crisis Committee head Stan Heller asked the Secret Service man to ask the senator to come out or allow one of their group in, but Heller didn't get a yes or a no.
Nor did a couple of Lieberman's neighbors, who came out of their houses to express solidarity with the demonstrators (and identified themselves as Jewish). Nothing left to do but give the guy a flier to pass on to Lieberman, hoping that might lure him out for a moment. The flier was headlined "STOP THE MASSACRES OF PALESTINIAN CIVILIANS."
Here is what the National Catholic Reporter wrote in an article titled "Palestinian-Americans take to streets" (By KATHRYN CASA)
Hundreds in Hartford, Conn., thousands in Washington, tens of thousands in New York. Palestinian-Americans have been taking to the streets in record numbers to protest what they see as Israel's most recent excessive use of force against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. But there is a subtext to this new movement. It resonates among them like the low buzz from a distant beehive: Al-Awda, Arabic for "The Return." ..... In Connecticut, self-professed "cyber-activist" Mazin Qumsiyeh chairs the media committee of the Palestine Right to Return Coalition whose prolific e-group's messages are exchanged among some 1,500 recipients. "People got dispirited and didn't do very much in the '90s, but this is changing," he said, noting that an estimated 20,000 people turned out to rally for Palestinian rights in New York Oct. 13, ... http://www.natcath.com/NCR_Online/archives/111000/111000f.htm
Here we will try to cover just some highlights of direct actions.