The Different Back to School Run campaign is launching August 23 in Ireland. Here's a Q&A with the organizers to learn more about the campaign strategy and what we hope to achieve.
What is the goal of this campaign? How will you know if you’ve reached that goal?
The Different Back to School Run campaign across Ireland is designed to raise awareness of the challenges Palestinian children face over the course of their education. It aims to increase literacy of the Palestinian struggle among the general Irish public and inspire Irish lawmakers to take action in support of Palestinian human rights by holding Israeli authorities accountable for allowing Israeli forces and settlers to inflict violence upon Palestinian children with impunity.
How will you know if you’ve reached that goal?
We will be able to measure the social media reach of the campaign through likes and shares on Facebook, as well as retweets and likes on Twitter. Having our articles, op-eds, and interviews picked up by newspapers and radio shows will also be good indicators of success. When the issues of school demolitions, home demolitions, the rights of Palestinian children, and their education are raised in the Dáil, (Irish parliament) and in governmental think tanks, using parliamentary questions in the autumn, we will have reached our goal of informing and questioning lawmakers of the plight of Palestinian children. In an ideal world, if the 54 Palestinian schools scheduled for demolition by Israel are still standing by next year then we will have made a big difference.
Who are the organizers of this campaign?
The campaign is led by Sadaka and Defense for Children International - Palestine as a part of the No Way to Treat a Child campaign.
When is the campaign and how did you choose that time?
The campaign will be active from August 23 to September 6, 2021 to align with the start of the new school year in Ireland. We are aiming to draw parallels between the school experiences of Palestinian and Irish children and are hoping to take advantage of the momentum and media coverage on education as a hot topic, to raise awareness of the violence that Palestinian children face at the hands of Israeli soldiers and settlers during their school experience.
What tactics are you using in the campaign? How did you choose them?
This is a multifaceted campaign which uses different tactics to reach different target audiences. We are placing a mobile digital billboard with key messaging in three major Irish cities and hanging a large banner on a tall building in a high-traffic area in Dublin.
Our media strategy includes the placement of an op-ed in a major Irish publication as well as accessing interviews on morning radio shows to reach parents and teachers as they begin to think about returning to school. Former EA’s from EAPPI will inform provincial media outlets of their experience in accompanying Palestinian children to school.
We will use social media to promote these tactics, and to reach a wider audience by sharing photos, videos and messages throughout the duration of the campaign.
It’s important that this campaign also spur Irish lawmakers to action, so we are planning to ask parliamentary questions when parliament reopens to immediately draw attention to Palestinian children.
What actions do you want people to take as a result of this campaign?
This campaign aims to raise public awareness of the plight of Palestinian children, especially with regard to accessing education. Through this general awareness raising campaign, the Irish public will be encouraged to put pressure on politicians and local government officials to build momentum and take next steps now that the government has declared the de facto annexation of Palestine. We hope that through this campaign the Irish people will call on the government to uphold their commitments to take meaningful action on Palestine, including reintroducing the Occupied Territories Bill. The government can no longer merely condemn the situation in Palestine, but must now act in accordance with the will of the Irish people.
How can people support this campaign?
People can support this campaign by sharing the campaign on social media, and liking and sharing our posts, as well as engaging with the content on the website. Most importantly, we would encourage people to speak with their TDs (elected representatives) about the campaign, remind them that Palestine is still an important issue, and that we would like to see Ireland take a lead role in addressing the violence against children that is taking place there.