Rallies are usually ugly affairs, so you should try to encourage dialogues whenever possible. But when push comes to shove, it's sometimes worth your while to play hard ball.
How To… Stage a Protest Rally
Your aim is to publicise your position and to get people involved. Pick an issue which is broad-based, emotional and thoughtful. (E.g. Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Memorial Day, Support for a 2 state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict etc). Emphasize the strength of your support and justness of your cause.
We recommend that if you have a good speaker, you arrange for an interview with the press prior to or after the rally. This will ensure at least some press coverage. Keep a list of backup speakers who can talk at a moment’s notice.
REMEMBER -- Do not concentrate on convincing your opponent. The uncommitted audience is your target, thus know your facts and be accurate!
Recruit volunteers to:
In the event of counter-demonstrations
The opposition will not be effective if your rally is more impressive than theirs. If you anticipate violence invite both police and large intimidating monitors. Better to be safe than sorry. In the unlikely event of violence first defend yourselves, (get the hell out of there) and later press charges.
RESPONSES TO DISRUPTIONS -- tactics used to avoid potential problems.
If you foresee problems, meet with the administration early to let them know your concerns. After all, it is their responsibility to protect your free speech and these contacts may become useful later on.
Try to keep your program concentrated. Plan 45 minutes of activities for 30 minutes. Don't let your speakers’ waste any time getting to the podium.
Most people are ignorant about the Middle East and Jewish issues so keep your presentation simple! Visual aids help people to conceptualize so use placards / signs.
When in a “confrontation" situation, taking the offensive puts you in a favourable position. Avoid “yes buts..." Try to turn the table and force your opponent to defend their views instead.
On the other hand, you must recognize that nothing is completely black and white. Do not feel obligated to give a blanket defence to every argument. Be sensitive to subtle points, they still do not negate Israel's right to exist in peace.
Take the nature of your audience into account. Different people will react differently.
Invite well known University figures, professors, and Jewish and non-Jewish student leaders. It will help attract more credibility and publicity!
How To… Stage a Counter Demonstration
Your goal is to steal a protest's press coverage so when responding to an activity, be sure not to unconsciously assist its organizers in achieving their objectives. If they are trying to attract attention to an insignificant group, a response that will give them centre stage in the media or on the campus may be counterproductive. Some demonstrations should be overwhelmed; others ignored. If you feel a need to react here are some suggestions:
Advanced Warning and NO Warning
How much warning you have, can be irrelevant if you prepare yourselves effectively in advance of trouble. To prevent yourselves from being caught off guard we recommend that you: Make sure you have already made information fliers on issues which are commonly protested, e.g. how Zionism is not racism, importance of Jerusalem as the capital, suicide bombings, intifada, and that you keep many copies at all times in an easily accessible place. This will save you a lot of time and energy.
Periodically check the university's reserved spacing calendar. If you do this weekly you will minimize your chance of being caught off guard. At the minimum, this should be done right before key dates (e.g. Israeli Apartheid Week, Palestinian Right to Education Week, the anniversary of Sabra and Shatilla, Nakba Day).
Attempt to overwhelm the protest rally. This requires more numbers, better speakers, and/or brighter posters. If you do not have the manpower for this, one of the following photogenic protests might work.
A candlelight vigil is most effective at dusk.
Find as many people as possible to wave posters and signs.
Make sure you are not perceived as part of their demonstration (e.g., try to wear distinctive clothes, and sit down or stand far away from their rally).
Whatever happens try not to get upset. Keep things in perspective. Nothing you or anyone else says or does is going to change the ultimate problems.