a comprehensive guide to action abroad
walking through university today, my path was blocked by students lying on the pavement, with the names of countries taped to their bodies… Palestine and Indonesia jumped out from among these names… and a young man was gathering signatures for his petitions, apparently BAE (British Aerospace Engineering) invests in my university and also holds recruitment events to hire graduates. They export to the state of Israel… so I signed.
I only stopped becuase I felt empathy for the guy standing in the freezing cold trying to get people’s attention, it isnt exactly an easy task, and can be quite demoralising, especially as some people lower their and walk faster pretending not to have seen you 😛 It wasnt that I thought that this would have any impact… so what does have an impact? what can we do? why its ok to be a pest in the west, and why the international (UK and USA mainly) should care I will outline in another post.
How we can help Palestine (target audience: UK residents):
- be clued up on what the conflict is all about , and be aware of the zionist stance, dismissing them as having no legitimate argument is correct but will only serve to make you look ignorant, and unwilling to engage in discussion. How to handle a zionist confrontation appears in a previos post.
- put your knowledge into action, write to your MP outlining the situation (keep it short and be polite!), and why it is of British concern. Focusing on specific issues, such as arm deals, or Israels bid to gain norwegian like status with the EU or requesting more import of Palestinian goods, is preferrable, as it gives your MP something tangible to work with.
- keep abreast of the media, if the news reports something biased or factually incorrect, complain.
- circulate a petition… yes they seem like a waste of time, but they are easier than getting people to write to their MPs, youcan include your petition with the letter, in a ‘see how many voters in your constituency care’.
So we have established that other supporters are necessary, but how can people know about the situation? lets not forget that there is practically a media blackout in Gaza… and very little information is given with whatever news clips get shown… and people are often lazy to follow up or simply do not see it as something that concerns them. This brings us to our second main point…
- first rule of thumb: do not go around shoving palestine down people’s throats, nor is an overly emotional ‘argument’ effective.
- keep your ears open, palestine IS in the news, it WILL come up in conversation, be prepared to engage with people.
- stick with facts… they cannotbe argued with.
- some emotion is good, as the issue has a massive humanitarian effect… children are in jail, white phosphorus is being used, 1000s of people lost their houses in Gaza, unemployment is through the roof, and aid has been witheld for nearly a year now. It is not good.
- organise film showings and advertise them well (posters, leafleting, word of mouth, newspapers, emails and email groups).
- organise talks, scholars of the issue, Palestinians who lived in Palestine, or local activists who have visited.
- have informational leaflets ready (here, here, here, make your own, or collect them at national rallys) and collect names + contact details… you may want to organise more events, and more people may wish to be involved.
- ensure meetings/talks do not go on too long, you dont want people feeling that this will take over their lives…
- hold rallys, have a weekend stall in town, do something eyecatching… hold a Dabke dance in town (you will need town council permission though!).
- at events if possible show pictures… have a political photo timeline and show pictures of palestine and the people/culture… somehow, seeing the personal side of Palestine and Palestinians makes their plight even more real… people can connect with them on a personal level.
- advertise books on Palestine and not just technical books, but fictional/biographical ones (“I saw Ramallah”, “In Search of Fatima”, “Sharon and my Mother in Law”)
Not so politicky things:
here is where I add some more ideas on how we could ‘help’, that do not involve campaigning or politics… simple straight forward help:
- give to charity (this one is a no-brainer)
- support Palestinian goods (Palestinian olive oil: Zaytoun , Embroidery: Hadeel ,ethical tourism: olive co-op )
and last but not least, do NOT allow yourself to sink into despair… it will only turn into apathy, and that is the LAST thing that is needed.