What the actors strike can learn from the Israeli protest movement
APN Board Member Joshua Malina
This piece was originally published in the Forward on August 28,
I have been picketing with fellow members of SAG-AFTRA labor union, and our brothers and sisters in the Writers
Guild of America, as we march in protest of a system that undervalues and mistreats us.
Day in, day out, we stand together in solidarity. As we strike, my heart is also 7,500 miles away with another,
larger group of protesters. For nearly eight months, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have amassed to challenge
the anti-democratic assault of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government on his country’s legal institutions.
The actors and writers in the United States face issues that we deem existential to our employment; Israelis face a
threat to their existence as citizens of a democracy. And we on the picket lines in America can take a few lessons
from the resolve and tenacity of those protesting in the streets of Israel.
Effective protests require large numbers. They call for perseverance and single-mindedness, for creativity and
vitality. Israeli pro-democracy demonstrators come from very different backgrounds, but are united in their focus:
preserving their democracy.
Every week, they generate new ideas: protesting at unexpected gathering sites, refusing to appear for voluntary
military service, creating clever picket signs and hyperactive social media campaigns. They find ways to create a
sense of solidarity among protestors, forging commitment and dedication.
I feel this dynamic on the picket lines in Los Angeles. Walking together for hours, we trade stories about life in
our industry in our different creative capacities — writers, actors, extras, stunt performers — and though our
specific grievances may differ, we feel energized by the common ground we find. Together we pour our vigor into
creative, dynamic ways of making our message heard.
For too long, working actors and writers have been treated as if we are lucky to be employed, as if our
contributions are somehow less than creation of the very product that enriches the studios. Over time poor
treatment starts to feel normal, and it takes a paradigm shift to stand up for one’s rights.