Get Involved Locally!
In a grassroots struggle like this one, public opinion changes one person at a time. You have the ability to affect others in your community—so use it! Here are some ideas...
Join a local group. Solidarity groups for peace and justice are organizing in universities, schools, churches, mosques, unions, and other communities around the country. Many US groups are listed at US Campaign to End the Occupation and United for Peace and Justice. Find groups in Canada through Canadian Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid.
If you can't find an appropriate group, contact Anna Baltzer for local allies. If there's no group in your area, you can always start one.
Join the US Campaign. Whether or not your group is new, make sure you join the US Campaign to End the Occupation, the umbrella organization for Palestine solidarity groups around the country. The Campaign offers great support and can help local groups tap into the national movement.
Organize and educate your community. Here are some ideas for how your group can inform the community and take local action:
Join the global movement for BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT, & SANCTIONS against Israeli Apartheid. This is a way to simultaneously educate and take action. If there's one thing your local group does, make it this! Learn more.
Monitor local media. Let local newspaper editors and TV/radio stations know that you demand accurate coverage of what's happening in Israel/Palestine. If you see something biased, organize to make your voices heard. Learn how.
Meet with your local representatives—together as a group. It's one thing to write a letter. It's another to visit your representatives and their staff with twenty people. Organize a group and lobby for a responsible and just US policy in Palestine. Resources for contacting Congress.
Hold educational events. The following can be done in local churches, universities, high schools, synagogues, mosques, libraries, and other community centers.
Report-backs. Invite local community members who are Palestinian or who have been to Palestine to speak about their experiences. Those who don't know how to speak effectively or handle hostility can sign up for Anna Baltzer's Grassroots Speaker Training Workshop.
You can also host a film screening about Palestine. Anna Baltzer's film, Life in Occupied Palestine, is available free to anyone organizing a public showing. There are many others. Anna Baltzer's recommendation is Slingshot Hip-Hop, an incredible documentary about the rise of the Palestinian hip-hop movement as nonviolent resistance through music and spoken word. This DVD is one of the best out there to learn about the people of Palestine, especially for youth. Personal and institutional copies available.
Note about the above options: Educating your community is a means to an end, not an end in itself! The most important part of any event is what happens afterwards. Encourage people at the event to join your local group—bring materials and sign-up sheets and build on the momentum created to pursue other actions.
Organize artistic performances.
Invite the Palestinian hip-hop group DAM to your community.
This is a great way to support nonviolent resistance through spoken word, and counters the idea that Palestinians are either terrorists or victims—experience empowering music and energy in one of the best concerts you'll ever see. DAM will be touring in the Spring of 2010. Email daminnorthamerica [at] gmail [dot] com if you're interested in hosting or helping, or check out the DAM's MySpace page.
Host a Palestinian dance troupe to perform traditional Palestinian Dabke.
Organize a performance of My Name is Rachel Corrie, an acclaimed play about Rachel Corrie, an American peace activist who was run over by an American Caterpillar bulldozer driven by an Israeli soldier in the Gaza strip while she was trying to stop a pharmacist's family's home from being destroyed.
Air Life in Occupied Palestine or other films on local Public Access TV—for free. Learn more.
Organize a demonstration. The Civil Rights movement didn't consist of people writing their representatives and then waiting for change to happen. People took to the streets, and showed the world that they would not stand for the status quo. Make signs, carry banners, pick a street, grab a bull-horn, and make Apartheid in Palestine impossible to ignore!
Hold a Town Hall Meeting
Paint a Mural. Drop a Banner.
Find an appropriate place and set up a Mock Wall or a Mock Checkpoint.
The Coalition to Stop $30 Billion in Albuquerque created and raised money for Billboards to educate people in their city.
There are many ways to get involved locally, and if your group wants outside help, there's lots of it. Again, the US Campaign umbrella organization exists in part to support local groups in their own efforts. You can also download or order very helpful Global Exchange Activists Toolkits that offer advice and how-to steps for meeting with elected officials, organizing a town hall meeting, planning a demonstration, publicizing, fundraising, writing local media, and more.
Final note: Remember to reach out to people and groups in other struggles. Build bridges across common movements for justice everywhere.