Back from the demo. Reasonable size, but let's not get too excited - there's another one tomorrow which, as it's on a Saturday, may potentially be bigger - let's see.
Apart from a few people, who I would characterise as plain and simple evil, there was a good response from passers by. The most consciencious (although very friendly) discussions were held between the participants.
There was a palpable feeling of frustration from some of the participants that we are not doing enough and the slightly directionless feel of the whole thing led to discussions on what is the next step and a promise to ourselves to make sure tomorrow we are noisier, more pro-active and possibly get arrested.
Of course it's true we have not done enough - and I wasn't expecting us to tonight, with our Cambridge protest, have brought the current conflict to an end - although clearly that would have been ideal - but I don't think we should beat ourselves up about these things either. We should get stuck in with positive proposals and "dig where we stand". We just need to do what we can.
Part of this means the same old stuff obviously (leafletting, postering, events, meetings, etc.) but we also need to think laterally too. Some of the suggestions that have come out of the last few days have been:
- We should contact the local ambulance drivers, and discuss with them an open letter, or similar, to be sent to the press expressing solidarity with those ambulance drivers deliberately targeted and killed by the Israeli armed forces.
- Fund raising for aid organisations (link will appear here when Ilaria tells me who she had in mind) to provide practical and real support. We could collect at the Indymedia screening next week perhaps for instance...
- Cambridgeshire county council invests its pension fund in Arms Companies who provide the weaponry that Israel uses to commit ethnic cleansing. We can up the pressure on the council to adopt a"no arms companies" investment policy.
- We should contact local Refugee Organisations and work with them to use the media coverage of the UK citizens driven from Lebanon to help illustrate the plight of refugees and help bring these groups into an informal coalition against the Israeli offensive.
- Drawing up briefing guides and reproducing useful articles to hand out (like the stuff on Medialens) this went down really well a couple of weeks ago and helps fill the need for information and understanding of the crisis and the region.
- Attempting to bring local groups into closer proximity (I think for us this means CAN, StWC, Greens, PSC, Campeace and maybe Labour Party activists primarily). Being able to organise spontaneous protests takes a lot of organisation and for that we need to try to bring the disparate and fragmented campaign groups into talking distance.
It seems to me that this conflict has made people particularly worried about the effect we can have on events, but these feelings (which I've certainly shared at times this week and last) don't get us far - we need to break our activities down into bite sized chunks to make our objectives doable and try to produce discernable results (even if that result is small like a piece in the local paper) - sometimes when we fight we lose, but if we do not fight we have already lost.