[sixties-l] Re: Demonstrations--A Success Story

From: Jeffrey Blankfort (jab@tucradio.org)
Date: 11/30/00

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    November 28 was the The Night We Shut Old Bibi Down! We prevented
    Benjamin Netanyahu from speaking in Berkeley! And Marty's critique of
    left protests and their public image notwithstanding, it was a great
    happening, and yes, there were plenty of signs, slogans and raised fists
    and people were peacefully militant.  Every TV channel gave us coverage
    as did the local papers, some of which was very good. The irony was that
    this was a hastily put together protest since news of Netanyahu's
    appearance had not been publicized ahead of time in the press, yet it
    was unquestionably more successful than those typical marches, with
    their rallies and speeches that the media ignores. 
    Several hundred protesters turned out to protest his appearance  at the
    Berkeley Community Theater and we were successful in preventing the
    event from happening, much to the consternation of a press-estimated
    2000 would-be audience members, many of whose mindsets no doubt
    reflected the sickness that is prevalent among that sector of the
    Israeli public who believes that Barak has not gone far enough in his
    suppression of the Palestinian uprising 
    The Berkeley cops were not fully prepared for the large protest and were
    unable to do anything when protesters broke through the lines and went
    up to the gates through which the ticket holders had to pass. The latter
    compounded the problem for the police by following the protesters toward
    the gate which resulted in  the protesters and ticketholders
    intermingling in the blocked off street. Some of ticket-holders who had
    actually bought tickets to hear the original speaker--Henry Kissinger(!)
    took the situation with a bit of humour but those wanting to hear
    Netanyahu, were not happy campers.  That's how you were able to tell the
    ticket-holders from the protesters. Only one group was smiling and
    whoopin' it up. As a a San Franciscan, I grudgingly had to admit,
    Berkeley was back on the map. But for its residents I expected an
    attack by Israeli helicopter gunships before dawn.
    Out of fear of subsequent demonstrations, and for Bibi's"security,"
    Netanyahu and his sponsors canceled his appearances the following night
    in San Mateo and the following day in San Rafael.  No doubt, an
    important factor in this decision was the high cost of bringing in
    hundreds of outside police to these communities, a cost that the
    taxpayers of those communities would have had to bear. And I am sure the
    local police in those towns balked at that.
    Jeff Blankfort
    Marty Jezer wrote: (Re: Hitchens and Nader)
    > SNIP
    > In my
    > never-ending but frustrating (and Abbie-Hoffmanish) effort to
    > prod the left into seeing how other's perceive us, I thought it a
    > useful exercise to look at the right-wing demonstrators (separating
    > them from their politics) and see what messages the act of waving
    > placards, shouting slogans, and being in the camera's face conveys.
    > Demonstrations should be organized as theater so that the action of the
    > demonstrators conveys the message intended. Signs, slogans, raised
    > fists, etc. don't necessarily do the trick and sometimes even undercut
    > what we're trying to convey.
    > This was one of Abbie's lessons of the sixties, and something WIN Magazine and
    > the NY Workshop in Nonviolence (both of which I was involved with during the
    > sixties)
    > were experimenting with. The left, in its public demonstrations, often wanted
    > to be
    > seen as "militant." That was the goal.  But militance can be a real turn-off to
    > the public.
    > And reaching the public is one, if not the only, reason to demonstrate in the
    > street.
    > The GOP in Miami was pretty ugly (in a petty kind of way). I would suggest that
    > that is what the left also looks like to the general -- even the sympathetic
    > - --public.
    > Marty
    > Marty Jezer . 22 Prospect Street . Brattleboro, VT 05301

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