How to run a campaign
Organised campaigns allow you to exert a huge influence on public opinion and the political process. In the past, Jewish students pressured the USSR to release Natan Sharansky, and help bring about the exit of Jews from Russia to Israel - similarly great goals can be achieved by other Jewish student campaigns that are well run.
Campaigns should be based around one or two clear aims. Aims state generally what a campaign is attempting to do. these aims should summarise what a campaign is about, although not deal with methods which are dealt with later. Example aims for a pro-Israel campaign might be “to ensure fair reporting of Israel in the student newspaper” or “to get the local anti-Israel student group banned from campus”. Note that aims don’t spell out exactly what actual actions will be taken; once aims are decided, specific objectives are used to break aims down into measurable components, and then methods specify concrete directions for action.
Practical aims, where a campaign is directed toward some specific action, can work well for two reasons. Firstly, the actual impact of a campaign with a practical aim can be more beneficial than a campaign with a very general aim; for example, “combat anti-Semitic hate speech” might not help as much as “lobby your country’s government to pass specific legislation against anti-Semitic hate speech”. Secondly, it is often easier to motivate activists to campaign on practical issues, where there is a clear aims to achieve. For these reasons, consider choosing quite practical aims for a Jewish student campaign.
Campaigns need to have clear objectives if they are to be focused. Objectives should flow from the aims that are set for the campaign. Objectives are actions that together lead to the aims for a campaign being met. Campaign objectives should be SMART:
Specific - Objectives need to be clear and precise. “Getting the student government to drop their plans to invite an openly anti-Semitic speaker” is specific. “Combat anti-Semitism” is not specific enough.
Measurable - Objectives that can be measured are easier to achieve. “Promote Israel’s right to exist to student leaders” is not measurable, as there is no way of deciding when it has been done or not. “Promote Israel’s right to exist by holding meetings with twenty student leaders’ is measurable. It is a lot easier to attempt to meet measurable objectives.
Achievable - There is no point setting campaign objectives that aren’t achievable. No student group is likely to “Bring peace to the Middle East”. Limiting efforts to achievable objectives prevents disillusionment and ensures that energies aren’t wasted. Objectives should be set with reference to the organisational resources that can be given to a campaign.
Relevant (to the overall campaign goal) - All campaigns should have a general goal towards which they are directed. Objectives that fit into a wider plan are worthwhile, whereas random acts of campaigning generally achieve little.
Time Bound - Objectives should be associated with specific dates and times by which they should be accomplished. Without setting times by which objectives should be met, it is easy for campaigns to drag out over a long period of time without achieving much.
Long Term Approach
A campaign should be a long-term plan of action focused on one particular issue. Campaigns are not built overnight. It is important that a campaign develops - if the aims of a campaign are to get an anti-Semitic student group banned from campus, then plan clearly the steps that might be involved in this. First, it might be necessary to enlist student support by winning a public-opinion battle. Second, it might be necessary to talk directly to the student leadership on campus (student union/government/senate etc.), because they are likely the ones who need to make any decision about banning student groups and/or removing funding. Third, it might be important to address administration’s concerns about freedom of speech, and this might need to be done with the help of faculty. Fourth, it might be important to mobilize support for the issue to demonstrate strength of feeling, by holding a demonstration.
The important thing to remember is that one can’t always start at the end; it isn’t always possible to mobilize students for a successful demonstration without laying the groundwork. A long-term, planned, approach to objectives helps ensure campaigns are successful.