31 December 2009: Mazin Qumsiyeh writes in an end-of-year email:
A year ago, in the midst of the savage attack on Gaza, we in the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement between People in Beit Sahour issued a call for action composed of 25 things that ordinary people can do (list below). Today we are gathering in Bethlehem (Nativity Square 4-6 PM) in the last day of the year. Bethlehemite Children will read the names of close to 400 children murdered in Gaza a year ago and to pledge that in 2010 we will intensify our efforts including with boycotts, divestments and sanctions.
The event in the square of the church of nativity
It is fitting that attendance at this event will be higher than expected before because many of the people who were supposed to go to Gaza and were prevented by the puppet government in Egypt (acting on behalf of Israel) have instead come to join us here. For news and details about the travails of the Gaza Freedom March. Seven of them who are staying in my house (plus an eighth who also was supposed to go to Gaza but decided it is not going to work out) attended our planning meeting and stayed up last night with me and my wife making hangings for the tree. Each hanging/”decoration” has the name and age of one of the children from Gaza on one side and on the other side is the sticker carrying the words Freedom, Equality, Return and a call to boycott Israel. Each will be appropriately hung by a child from Bethlehem remembering a child from Gaza.
On this last day of the year as we reflect on the last year in Palestine where it was filled with hope, began with Children and ending with children (and youth and young at heart from around the world). We reflect on the hundreds of new people we met, on the excellent and productive year of activism, on finishing my book, and most of all on the blessings of activism, the best and most sure recipe for happiness. With your help, may the new year bring us all peace with justice.
Action call from the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People
So far hundreds of civilians have been killed in Gaza. Five sisters in one family, four other children in another home, two children on a cart drawn by a donkey. Universities, colleges, police stations, roads, apartment buildings were all targeted. The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian areas issued a statement that “The Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip represent severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Conventions, both in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war.”
1) First get the facts and then disseminate them. ….
2) Contact local media. Write letters to editors (usually 100-150 words) and longer op-eds (usually 600-800 words) for local newspapers. But also write to news departments in both print, audio, and visual media about their coverage. You can find media listings in your country using search engines like google
3) Contact elected and other political leaders in your country to urge them to apply pressure to end the attacks.
4) Organize and join demonstrations in front of Israeli and Egyptian embassies or when not do-able in front of your parliament, office of elected officials, and any other visible place (and do media work for it).
5) Hold a teach-in, seminar, public dialogue, documentary film viewing etc. this is straightforward: you need to decide venue, nature, if any speakers, and do some publicity (the internet helps).
6) Pass out fliers with facts and figures about Palestine and Gaza in your community (make sure also to mention its relevance to the audience: e.g, US tax payers funding war crimes and increase in world instability and economic uncertainty)
7) Put a Palestinian flag at your window
8) Wear a Palestinian head scarf (Kufiya)
9) Wear Black arm bands (this helps start conversations with people)
10) Send direct aid to Gaza through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
11) Initiate boycotts, divestments and sanctions at all levels and including asking leaders to expel the Israeli ambassadors (an ambassador of an apartheid and rogue state). See Palestinian call and look at the site of the BDS Movement
12) Work towards bringing Israeli leaders before war crime courts (actions along those lines in courts have stopped Israeli leaders from traveling abroad to some countries like Britain where they may face charges).
13) Calling upon all Israelis to demonstrate in front of their war ministry and to more directly challenge their government
14) Do outreach to neighbors, friends, and coworkers (and others) directly. You can reach many others by the internet to (e.g. join and post information to various listservs/groups, write directly to all people in positions of influence).
15) Start your own activist group or join other local groups (simple search in your city with the word Palestine could identify candidate groups that have previously worked on issues of Palestine). Many have also been successful in at bringing coalitions from different constituencies in their local areas to work together (human rights group, social and civil activists, religious activists, etc).
16) Develop a campaign of sit-ins at government offices or other places where decision makers aggregate
17) Do a group fast for peace one day and hold it in a public place.
18) Visit Palestine
19) Support human rights and other groups working on the ground in Palestine
20) Make large signs and display them at street corners and wherever people congregate.
21) Contact local churches, mosques, synagogues, and other houses of worship and ask them to take a moral stand and act. Call on your mosque to dedicate this Friday for Gaza actions.
22) Sign petitions for Gaza, e.g. Avaaz
23) Write and call people in Gaza
24) Work with other groups that do not share your political views (factionalism and excessive divisions within activist communities allowed those who advocate war to succeed).
25) Dedicate a certain time for activism for peace every day (1 hour) and think of more actions than what is listed above.
For support and contacts of people in Gaza or to volunteer, please contact the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People or call 989-607-9480 (from the US and Canada) or +972 2277 2018 (from other places).