Hold an Online Advocacy Campaign: Social media campaigns can be a great way to catch legislators’ attention and garner support for a cause.
Be Clear about your Mission: Determine what your ask is, and directly communicate this to members of your organization. Consider the interests of your members: (For example, are they more likely to advocate against annexation or child detention?) Considering your audience when determining your ask will likely increase participation and potential for success
Educate your Members/Employees on the Issue: People are more likely to join a campaign for a cause they are familiar with. Consider holding an awareness event or distributing educational resources to members before launching your campaign.
Give Participants a Story to Tell: Provide a specific post or tweet to share, and a specific hashtag to use. Make sure that the message includes a specific ask! This will encourage uniformity and easy participation.
Track Your Success: Decide what metrics will be used to determine campaign success. Examples include number of participants, number of Members engaged with, or number of posts shared. Log any responses from legislators, and take note of which members respond.
Follow-Up with Members: Reach out to any members who engaged with the campaign and request an in-person meeting on behalf of the organization. Take note of any meetings so that your organization can refer back to those in later advocacy meetings and campaigns.
Thank Participants: Send a thank you email, letter, or gift to campaign participants to show appreciation for their support.
Craft Messages for Legislators to Share: Two ways legislators commonly use social media platforms are to share constituent stories and to present economic impact data specific to legislation or the lawmaker’s district. You can contribute to both of these conversations by sharing success stories that your association helped to foster. Maybe you share a data point about how legislation affects a city in the lawmaker’s district, or maybe it’s a positive message from the industry you represent or a constituent partner. Rather than asking the lawmaker for something, you can be seen as contributing to the policy conversation. Consider two recent major legislative debates: tax reform in 2017 and the January 2019 government shutdown. In both cases, personal stories and economic impact data were critical for legislators who messaged a policy stance using social media. In pushing for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Republicans consistently cited examples of organizations and individuals who stood to benefit from the new tax plan and in many cases the specific dollar amount they estimated would be saved under the new law. During the shutdown, Democrats shared the experiences of federal workers in their local districts who were furloughed, as well as the financial impact on hundreds of thousands of federal employees going without paychecks. Messages on social media will never replace face-to-face interactions between legislators and constituents, but you can stay a step ahead of national conversation by monitoring and participating in substantive policy debates already happening online. Make sure your association is using social media to engage actively with your legislative champions, and craft messages that are helpful to lawmakers who can spotlight your issue or campaign.
Study their online engagement style: Familiarize yourself with your Congressperson’s social media activity. This is helpful in determining what kinds of posts are most effective for catching your legislator’s attention. Is your member more active on Facebook, or Twitter? What hashtags do they frequently use? Have they responded to posts where they were tagged or retweeted?
Determine your Ask: Directly communicate your ask in your post. Do you want your member to co-sponsor a bill, or simply raise awareness about an issue? Directly communicate your ask in your post.
Tag your Congress Member: Tag your legislator’s official Facebook or Twitter handles in any content you want them to see. Including photos or graphics will help your post stand out and catch the office’s attention.
Include Location to verify Constituency: Legislators prefer to engage with the people they represent. To increase the likelihood of having your member engage with your post, find a way to show that you are a constituent. One way you can do this on Facebook is by opting in to have a “constituent badge” next to your name, which signals that you are a resident of a particular state and district. Add your location to your profile on Twitter, or include your state and town in the tweet itself.
Engage with Questions: Asking questions in your own post or responding to a legislator’s posts with follow-up questions can increase your chances of garnering engagement. Questions give members a clear way to engage and ensure that your topic of interest is brought to their attention.
Be Persistent: Legislators are very busy and often tagged in hundreds of social media posts. Don’t be discouraged if your first attempt at engagement does not get a response. Instead, use it as an opportunity to re-strategize your online engagement. Don’t give up!
Success: Don’t let the conversation die online after your member responds to your post! Use their online engagement as an easy follow-up for in-person engagement. Reach out to their office and request a meeting or phone call.
Khan al-Ahmar is one of a dozen Bedouin communities that lie between Jerusalem and the Israeli settlement of Kfar Adumim. Khan al-Ahmar sits at a crossroads in the E1 area between Kfar Adumim and the jobs in the Jerusalem area where most of its settlers work, and for more than a decade, Israel has been trying to evict its residents. Between 2006 and 2018, the Israel Defense Force’s Civil Administration has demolished 26 homes in Khan al-Ahmar, leaving 132 people homeless.
Since March 5, 2017, the village has been fighting a prolonged legal battle with the IDF Civil Administration, which issued demolition orders for the entire village, including a mosque and school. In May 2018, Israel’s High Court rejected the Khan al-Ahmar residents’ petition against the demolition orders, and it approved state plans to demolish the village and relocate residents to al-Eizariya on the opposite side of Maale Adumim. The Court heard a new petition from residents in August 2018 and asked both sides to settle, but ultimately determined the May ruling to be conclusive.
The European Parliament, International Criminal Court, Jewish community and religious leaders in the US, and various human rights organizations responded with statements against the demolition, deeming it a violation of international law. In October 2018, the Israeli government announced the village’s demolition would be delayed until the 2019 elections concluded, and a new government was put into place. There were ultimately three elections, the third took place in March 2020, and ultraright parties in Israel made an election issue of promising to finish the demolition that PM Netanyahu put off under European and ICC pressure.
While the Civil Administration has been rigorously demolishing any new structures in the area since September 2019, it has left Khan al-Ahmar alone so long as new structures are not built there. As of July 2020, the full-village demolition ordered by the court in 2018 has yet to take place, and the future of the village remains uncertain.
Khan al-Ahmar is home to the Jahalin Bedouin tribe. Although originally from the Negev Desert, the Jahalin were forcibly relocated to the then Jordanian-controlled West Bank by the Israeli military in 1951. The Jahalin leased Khan al Ahmar’s land from a Palestinian living in Anata. Israel took over the West Bank in the 1967 war, and in 1975 expropriated the land where Khan al-Ahmar sits, making it Israeli state land zoned for an industrial zone of the Maale Adumim settlement. The Israeli authorities have always denied the village permits for building and basic utilities, including water, electricity, and sewage, forcing the residents to live in squalid conditions. Israeli courts have ruled that the residents must leave because the village was constructed without permits, although the Fourth Geneva Convention states that the destruction of civilian homes in territory occupied through war constitutes a war crime “unless the security of the civilians involved or imperative military reasons so demand.”
On Friday, August 14, Rep. Betty McCollum (MN) introduced HR 8050 the Israeli Annexation Non-Recognition Act to prohibit the US’s recognition of Israel’s claim of sovereignty over the occupied West Bank. This act would ensure that the US government neither recognizes nor funds the annexation of any parts of the West Bank. Congresswoman McCollum was joined by Reps. Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Tlaib (MI), Pocan (WI), Omar (MN), Pressley (MA), and Carson (IN).
Join us in solidarity with #ChurchesAgainstAnnexation by printing out the campaign graphic or creating your own and posting pictures of you individually and with groups on social media. Consider hosting a Zoom small group gathering so you can be in a picture together! Be sure to use #ChurchesAgainstAnnexation and tag us in your post – @ChurchesforMEP – on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Invite others to join the campaign. Share with friends, small groups, your community, and your church and welcome them to participate in #ChurchesAgainstAnnexation. Social media is a great way to raise awareness around this issue.
Palestinian Voices: Annexation and its impact on the Christian Community in Israel/Palestine
For this first webinar, we were thrilled to hear from Rev. Isaac and Father Khader, who recently co-authored a powerful op-ed in Haaretz on the devastating impact annexation will have for the future of the Christian community in Palestine. Learn more about how Christian leaders in Palestine are responding to the possibility of annexation.
Why should Christians in the pews care about annexation and Palestinian human rights?
Hear from Rev. Shannon Jammal-Hollemans of the Christian Reformed Church and Rev. David Andrews, of The Episcopal Church, on why it is critical for Christians to care about the situation in Israel-Palestine, especially now with annexation looming.
Attending town hall meetings or events sponsored by your member of Congress when they are at home for recess is an effective way of interacting with your representatives. The Town Hall Project is an online tool that tracks upcoming town halls throughout the country.
A guide on how to ask questions at Town Hall meetings from the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL). You should also sign up to receive updates from your Representative and Senators. They will often send emails with information about upcoming Town Halls. You can also call their local state or district office and inquire directly with their staff. Ask whether there will be a time for questions and if you need to submit questions ahead of time.
If possible, try to get a group of interested friends or family to attend the Town Hall with you. Plan ahead of time a question to ask and make sure you follow any guidelines provided by the office regarding how to submit the question. Also plan who will videotape your question should you be called on.It is best if your question connects directly to current legislation before Congress. If that is not possible, you will still need to have a clear “ask” for the Member of Congress. If you are not able to ask a question, look for an opportunity to connect with the member of Congress as they are entering or exiting. Be respectful of their space, but do your best to get your issue raised.
While letters to the editor are typically short (<250 words) responses to specific articles within the publication they are sent to, op-eds can be slightly longer (<750 words) and do not need to respond to a particular article. However, like letters to the editor, op-eds should be relevant, to-the-point, and in plain language. The Washington Post provides FAQs (specific to their publication) on both letters to the editor and op-eds.
Letters should focus on one issue or topic and use facts to back up any arguments.
Letters should reference a specific article in the publication to which they are addressed.
Letters should include a full name and contact information (so that the editor can follow up, not for publication purposes).
Letters are best if they are personalized and should conclude with a call to action. Members of Congress pay close attention to when their name is mentioned in publications, especially ones that are local to their state/district. It is important that you mention your member by name–either to thank them for taking a position or encouraging them to take one you would like for them to take.
Do not send the same letter to competing publications. Again, they should be publication-specific by addressing a particular author or article.
Check publication-specific guidelines before submitting letters to the editor.