Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The yuppie's guide to protests

Having been part of the activist community for many years, I've learned a thing or two about organising protests - on both sides. Here's a handy list that you can use to get started on your next rally.

This mostly applies to a Palestinian protest with an Israeli opposition on the other side. PPS: This blog post is not attempting to undermine my peoples, I do after all attend them and believe in the cause, I just also think we can change a few things about them to make them more efficient and make a statement.

Palestinian side
  1. A loud woman on a mega phone yelling out the slogans and constantly reminding you of her refugee status: I want to mention that this may just be a Toronto thing because in other protests I've attended across Canada, this wasn't necessarily the case. She yells slogans like "Stop the Killing stop the crime, Israel out of Palestine" and "No Justice no Peace" but she stops, takes a deep breath and likes to tell you a story about where she's from and how she was exiled and all that. Sometimes it feels like the entire Palestinian story happened to this girl (Nakba, Naksa, Black September, Lebanon, Sabra and Shatila, Gaza) so you start wondering.
  2. Someone performing spoken word poetry: If there's one thing I hate, it's spoken word poetry. There are over 800 reasons why I dislike it, which I won't get into, and for some reason there is always someone who wants to perform spoken word poetry at rallies. Unfortunately this is like the worst kind too.
  3. Gaza: If there's one thing that's really bothering me about the conflict right now it's the separation of Gaza from Palestine. I can't help but get angry when I hear "Free Palestine, Free Gaza" as if the two aren't the same place/people. This is wrong and must be corrected and when you tell people they just look at you, shrug their shoulders and continue chanting it. Another thing that's always noticeable at rallies is that they bring someone from Gaza to speak. Usually this person has never been to Gaza, or visited once in 1995 and has some family there that discuss the situation with them but that's about it. Although they are really connected to Gaza it doesn't make them a credible source. In my opinion, if we changed their role from someone speaking about the situation to just someone giving an inspirational speech that would be better.
  4. A previous revolutionary from either the PLO or PFLP to speak: Ahh the glory days! This is a staple event - the man never refers to his past, you just know who he is if you've read some books. He serves as the "motivational speaker" getting the crowd going and excited. Usually the man is a total 3ammo (uncle) wearing a leather jacket, a plaid shirt with a pen in the pocket, probably has a mustache, wears khakis and chain smokes. You relate to him because your dad most likely resembles him. Not mine though.
  5. The Keffiyeh: The dude who only goes to Arab parties to meet girls decides to attend his first protest. His contribution? A keffiyeh. Also, everyone who owns a keffiyeh wears it on a day when a rally is taking place, it's the code.
  6. Someone selling Marxist magazines: Rain or shine, these homies are there selling.
  7. An elderly passing out flyers: Just like the Marxist magazine sales people the old folks are running around the crowd (rain or shine) passing out "flyers". Usually they aren't flyer size but either 8.5x11 or 11x17, typed with comic sans or times new roman and include way too much information. Let's get creative with visual communication materials, as I discussed here.
  8. The backwards flag: No matter where you go, this is a staple item. The flag is backwards. Why? Don't ask me, it just happens...every. time.

Israeli side
Yep, those are rockets in the Palestinian flag colour
  1. The core seven crazy members of the JDL: You can't have a protest without "The JDL Seven" as I call them. These homies will say whatever is on their mind. Like internet trolls, they scour the city for information on where a Palestinian related event might be and make sure to cause some trouble. I'm surprised no one has arrested them yet. Actually, that doesn't surprise me at all.
  2. Offensive signs that if the other side had a sign with similar language we'd all be in jail (exhibits below)
  3. Signs with slogans that are irrelevant: Usually talking about Islam and Sharia Law, they have nothing to do with the conflict, save us the 9-11 discourse.
  4. Nationalist songs: They need to take slogan advice from their Egyptian neighbours
  5. That crazy woman who walks around the city calling people "anti-Semites" and "self-hating" (usually found in Yorkville): She rips posters off poles and harasses anyone near them.

That reads "Sharia is the end of Freedom"
Maybe a little research on this topic will do you some good. Here's my reco: A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two peoples by Ilan Pappe
That reads "Stick the Nakba up your Wazoo"

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