These are all facts:
- Israel is carrying out a genocide in Palestine.
- The United States, Canada, and many European countries are supporting these atrocities through military, economic and political means.
- A widespread disinformation campaign is underway in these countries such that many residents believe that Israel’s actions are appropriate. This is markedly different from the rest of the world.
- A silencing campaign is underway inside Global North countries which terrifies and stops many people from speaking up. Those that speak up are being targeted.
- There are tens of thousands of people in the Global North who are concerned about what they are seeing but feel that defending Palestinians now in some way is support for what they perceive as heinous acts on October 7 by Hamas and others.
So what do those of us do that that want to stop a genocide right now?
The answer is always the same — on our own we can’t do anything. But with the many others fighting for justice everywhere, we have a chance. Here are some organizing steps that are short-term, time-limited and possible, written for new organizers and experienced ones. These are of course just my opinions and I welcome comrades to write and speak more.
Identify Key Decision Makers In Your Context
In most cases, the highest decision maker you can reach are your own government. These are the Bidens, the Macrons, the Trudeaus, their political parties, And in most cases, they are supported by their “opposition parties”.
Set Clear Objective: Stop the Genocide
We must set ourselves a clear task: to get those at the very top of the state to withdraw their support for the genocide, and to force Israel to stop dropping bombs, and push for a just peace.
This must be our primary and only objective. All our actions must be analysed through this one question: Does it get the decision makers we have identified to do what we need them to do? All other actions must be put on hold. There are dozens of tactics we can carry out, and so many atrocious actions by so many forces all around us that we should otherwise respond to. This is especially true when those we think will do better fail us. But we cannot be distracted. It must be a battle of inches towards our one shared objective.
Amplify and influence ‘public opinion’
These political parties and decision makers only care about their next election cycle, and their funding dollars. They will change when “public opinion” shifts and makes holding a pro-genocide position untenable for future elections.
But public opinion is not about belief, it’s about amplification. There are enough people who already believe that murder at an industrial scale is wrong. We must amplify and organize those voices. Converting people to our cause is of course essential, but right now, today, it must be a means to an end, and not the end in itself.
Inside Strategy — Forcing the ‘Leaders’ with Access
Identify the people decision makers listen to and care about. These are all the organisations with government relations people; the ones that politicians come knocking at for BBQs come voting time; it’s the Presidents and Executive Directors whose calls are picked up by the highest offices. We need to get them to pick up the phone, and call whoever they know in government and demand that the bombing stops and long-term justice is ensured.
You may not be able to convince the organizational leaders directly but you may be able to convince someone who can convince them. With a small group of people, map a path to making that happen. Some organizations are democratic — If you need to pass a union resolution to do this, then do that. If you need to create a coalition, so that all the heads of organisations feel more protected because there are others like them, then do that.
Even though the mainstream media is try to hide them, numbers on the streets matter. Every person who turns up on the streets is connected to dozens of others. A lot of these actions are being organized by Palestinian comrades, as they should, but other people with skills can and should provide logistical support. Where possible we must work to build bridges and bring together as many organizations as possible to ensure the most number of people are present. We can ask for endorsements from civil society groups; ask unions and churches to organize buses; ask local radio stations to announce the actions; put up posters, ask everyone to share. There are tons of good protest planning practices that are useful even if the protests are already large, because we can always get more people. And asking for support from potential allies forces them to have a conversation about which side they are on. Mass actions do not require diluting demands, people will come, once there’s momentum.
Direct actions need to be targeted and have clear objectives. Is the intention to get media attention? Or is it to shut down an arms factory? While occupying absolutely everything seems like the right response to this moment and bring everything to a grinding halt — only those actions that pressure decision makers or in some other way directly interrupt the genocide should be carried out.
There are a thousand and one petitions circulating, with as many demands. If you want to sign one or ten, please go ahead. But if you are asking yourself, should your group or organization launch one, make sure it does two things: (1) the target and demands are clearly aligned with our one single objective and (2) you have identified a clear ladder of agitation and mobilization, i.e. the digital tool is step 1, which is followed by a call to get people to do more, leading up to participating in street mobilizations. This is not the time to list-build.
Much of the mainstream media is aligned in shutting down dissenting voices to massacres of Palestinians. But there are some journalists who are moral or at least objective — make their job easier. This means organizing actions that they can cover during their shifts, at accessible locations, giving sufficient notice, and doing it in a way that they edit it for the 6pm news or meet the print deadline. Support them in getting in touch with the spokespeople they need — if they prefer someone with family in Gaza, then make sure there is someone to speak to them; if they prefer an international human rights lawyer or want to talk to local fundraising drive organizers — then have that person be available. Fact-check and correct everything that is printed or aired so bosses know they are being watched. Email and ask why your action is not covered, and provide corrections. Have media handlers on site who know how to make sure the media get the shots they need. I know this is soul-sucking work but if you are choosing to engage with the press, then do so fully. Also op-eds, letters to the editor, ask people to write and call and write and call some more.
A genocide is underway. Thousands murdered, the rest starved, displaced and traumatised. But the protests, the actions, our struggles are making a difference. Already, some dissenting voices in the offices where it matters are calling for a “humanitarian pause”, others a “ceasefire”. It’s not fast enough or good enough, but we are gaining some momentum, we can stop this genocide. We just have to keep going.
Building the long-term: What’s above is a tactics guide, but we have a long-term question to answer — how do we build our numbers and institutions that will change everything such that these kinds of atrocities don’t happen. This is an existential and immediate and urgent question — we cannot keep going from one fire to another, watching thousands die.