June 09, 2010

So this is what winning feels like

It was the picture on the front of the Sunday Tribune (A broadsheet Sunday paper, circulation about 200,000, no great previous interest in Palestine) that signaled the goodies in store inside. The picture - unfortunately not on the website - was of the previous day’s IPSC demo of about 2000 in Dublin.

It was more than being on the front page; for the first time it portrayed an IPSC march entirely positively. With a caption 'the sign of peace', the picture focussed on flotilla survivor Fintan Lane giving the peace sign, surrounded by an attractive mélange of people – Arab and white Irish marching together. Normally, any pictures at our demos manage to portray angry Arab men shouting. The photo was echoed in the Irish Sunday Times which hewed to the ‘attractive girl holding a placard’ format, rather than the ‘multicultural Ireland coming together for a purpose’ image of the Tribune. Either way it was a demonstration portrayed positively, something that the media very, very rarely do.

Inside though was what amazed. You had sympathetic article after sympathetic article (to underline matters, the colours used for the headline of the main article were the Palestinian ones) about the flotilla and Gaza. Even the article entitled ‘Israel fights two wars: against Hamas and against bad PR’ turned out to be a description of Israel’s repression of Palestinians and its ruthless PR war. There was even an article sympathetically talking about the IPSC and our ongoing boycott work, outlining our campaigns, describing the goods and companies to target.

That wasn’t the best though. That was the editorial. Entitled ‘A boycott of Israeli goods is now necessary’, it praised Palestinian activists and unequivocally called for a boycott. It's the first mainstream paper to come out in favour of boycotting Israel. Read it, and enjoy the feeling that finally, we’re starting to win.

The IPSC is in a unique position now. We’ve been working round the clock on media, lobbying, organising over the last ten days, and it’s paying off. Politicians listen to us, unions work with us, the press reports what we say. We know that we’ll be slipping back somewhat in the future – the Israeli backlash will start, people will lose interest and we also know the massive gap between action and words. At the same time, it feels like a complete sea change in attitudes – not just impatience and annoyance with Israel (which was always there) but proper support for the boycott campaign and for Palestinians. Those people who were killed abroad the Mavi Marmara - it’s a small consolation, but consolation nonetheless - didn’t die in vain.


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