An extraordinary thing has happened since this site published an article I wrote reviewing our Adelaide Seacret protests. These protests promote the BDS movement and criticize the presence of Israeli company Seacret in our premier shopping precinct, Rundle Mall. We have now been protesting for 62 weeks and since the publication of “44 Weeks of protesting and not a word in print” (August 4) nearly every problem mentioned in the piece has changed. I can only conclude that this website is widely read and influential even in places as far flung as Adelaide.
Most obviously a short time after the Mondoweiss article our local newspaper, News Limited’s “The Advertiser” (23 August) produced a handsome, full page article on the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement in Adelaide titled “Boycott boiling point”. For months this newspaper had studiously ignored dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters and their colourful, noisy counter protesters facing off on arguably the most important political issue of the 20th and 21st centuries in the heart of our small city.
Also our paparazzi admirers have all but disappeared. For a while we almost felt like celebrities we had so much attention from covert and overt photographers. We could never see their fascination with our small peaceful protests. There we were – a fairly ordinary bunch of Australians dressed in the same green T-shirts with the same background every week. Yet anywhere between 5 and a dozen photographers and film-makers thought we were worth filming. We have wondered where all the photographers have gone but more importantly why were they there in the first place? And who were ”the friends in Israel” they kept telling us they were sending the photographs to?
In another development, the Christian Zionist counter protesters have found themselves the subjects of counter-counter- protesters, a group of young kids brought together by Facebook and organized by the gay rights group called Equal Love. The Christian Zionists now have this group to contend with plus court cases stemming from their use of loudspeakers to abuse Christians attending the Paradise Christian church, not to mention ongoing actions by the Adelaide City Council to limit their abuse of shoppers in the Mall. As you can see in this You Tube celebrating our first anniversary we have been able to stage our protests with not one Christian Zionist in sight. This is also partly due to us changing the times of our protest to a Sunday afternoon and also due to fact they have bigger fish to fry. Our Christian street preachers did not achieve a word of media attention while harassing us but are all over Adelaide’s print and television media when confronting any other group.
What hasn’t changed is the commitment of the protesters to continue the protests. We have just held our 62nd protest. Our latest You Tube celebrates our second Christmas season in the Mall. Nearly 30,000 leaflets have been distributed and hundreds of thousands people have seen these protests. We constantly overhear teenagers asking their friends or parents “What is Palestine?” It’s a great question and one that never would have been asked without our presence in the Mall. The conversation about Palestine is continuing and people are looking for information and want to ask questions. And we are only too happy to provide them with the facts and some answers.
Margaret Cassar is Executive Member, Australian Friends of Palestine Association.