The bustling launch meeting of Manchester Palestine Action (MPA) was the setting for some serious introspection about what we had to offer as a movement.
In the interests of building a sustainable, action driven movement for Palestinian rights and freedoms we carried out an analysis of collective strengths and weaknesses, an audit of the skills each of us brings and looked forward to the activities and actions to take to ensure that we fulfil our aims.
Strengths and their amplification
The list of perceived strengths was long, with the emphasis on perceived to maintain objectivity. A few of the strengths will be highlighted in this post. The full list along with some analysis of how to amplify them and use them to their full potential will be published later.
– Diversity and numbers: in terms of people involved.
– New forms of protest, potential to widen.
– Supporting each other.
Weaknesses and how to address them
One of the group sheets on weaknesses stated, “Most strengths are also weaknesses; most weaknesses can be strengths: double-edged swords”. This is true, for example, large numbers of supporters are strength but without the correct organisation and messaging we appear in a negative light. Passion and energy are great, but without being harnessed correctly can be destructive. This is some of the reasoning behind weaknesses, some of which are highlighted below and the rest will be published subsequently.
– Time constraints.
– Bad reporting/Media representation.
– Lack of women’s voices.
Skills audit: smart, sustainable action driven by data
There are a wide variety of skills necessary for effective campaigning from the mundane, but very important to the interesting and seemingly prestigious. From basic computer skills to advanced Graphic and web design, being able to engage members of the public and also convey your message effectively to the media, maintaining group and self morale and making sure supplies of flyers, banners and other protest paraphernalia are available when needed. Knowing who holds what skills and to what level of proficiency is vital. The skills audits suggested and designed by an insightful climate activist within our ranks allowed attendees to rate themselves on a scale from ‘novice’ to ‘ninja’. With a novice being the least experienced and a ninja being somebody so good at their chosen skill they could perform it and two other tasks simultaneously. The chart below shows the results of the skills audits for some of the categories.
It is apparent in most of the skills (apart from web design and troll control) that the ‘practitioner’ category (one up from novice) is the most common category people self assess themselves in. As expected there are also a healthy number of ‘experts’ and ‘ninjas’ in each skill, it is hoped that some of those with superior knowledge can be called upon to run workshops for others who want to learn new skills in order to maximise the number of people proficient in certain skills both for personal development and also for the benefit of the campaign. These experts could also coordinate certain areas of the campaign that could benefit from their superior knowledge and experience. Ninjas and experts, please watch your inboxes.
What next for Manchester Palestine Action
The emphasis of MPA is on sustainable and effective action for Palestine in Manchester (and hopefully beyond). With this in mind, the end of the meeting was dedicated to looking forward to activities and ideas those present want to implement. The ideas that are be listed in full below will form the basis of the next meeting of MPA on Tuesday 19th August, 7PM at the Friends Meeting House. The energy and momentum so far, both at the Kedem pickets and the many meetings behind MPA is inspiring and fills us with hope that we can contribute something meaningful towards a just resolution of the Palestinian cause.
Suggested next steps
Educational events, historical discussion, film showings
Regular social events—can include films
Role-play arguments with Zionists. Provide videos of these
Fact sheet for passersby
FAQ (including rationale for boycotting specific products)
Revised, simplified leaflets with 3-4 companies for BDS
Leaflet drop in cafes
Amplify women’s voices, especially those of Palestinian women
Work on website
Provide poster designs/leaflets for download and printing
Upload leaflets countering Zionist lines
Harness politicians’ voices
Seek celebrity endorsement
Regular free newsletter
Keep issue live in mainstream media
Sessions to make props: banners, flags, stickers
Better sound system
Use cameras and phones as deterrent against Zionists and police
Mobile projection unit for winter
Organise strategic wider boycott
Have more daily pickets outside more shops
More shop occupations
Change route of march to Oxford Road to increase visibility
Focus on surprise and creativity
Organise opposition to G4S at Labour Party Conference
Petition Manchester City Council to support right to protest
Lobbying presence at party conferences
Benefit gig (think big! Massive Attack, Brian Eno!)
Have national demo in Manchester and shut down the streets
Pop-up protests and boycotts (eliminates need for city centre protest)
Campaign for central/local govt policy changes: eg arms embargo, travel bans on Israeli politicians, war crimes prosecutions
Contact other Kedem protestors in Edinburgh and London
Organise women’s space. Implement safer spaces policies.
Fundraising team—include treasurers
Improve communication structures
Get to know each other
Use website to organise rota/confirm attendance at pickets
Build union involvement/links
Connect to academic boycott
Have Freshers’ Week Stalls and Oxford Rd presence.
Link with Students of Manchester for Palestine group.