Cries of, “Free, free Palestine” rang out in front of Downing Street on Saturday as 2,000 people protested against Israel’s latest massacre of Palestinians. Hundreds also joined protests in Manchester, Sheffield and Bristol.
Israeli troops murdered seven and injured hundreds more Palestinian protesters on the border of the Gaza Strip on Friday. They also wounded dozens and detained at least three Palestinians who joined a solidarity demonstration in the West Bank.
It followed Israel’s repression of protests last week that saw 17 Palestinians killed and 1,500 injured.
Victoria said she was protesting in London to “defend their right to protest”. “They are trying to step foot on land that was taken away from them,” she told Socialist Worker.
“Western governments, our government, don’t speak out about the oppression and occupation of the Palestinians.”
She said some might say that the protest in London doesn’t matter, but “even if we don’t convince our government, we can convince other people”.
The Palestinians’ heroic resistance is part of six weeks of planned protests leading up to the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, or Catastrophe, on 15 May. It marks the anniversary of the foundation of Israel by the theft of Palestinian land and dispossession of tens of thousands of people.
Naeem joined the protest in London as part of a delegation from the West Midlands Palestinian Solidarity Campaign. “The majority of people living in Gaza are refugees,” he told Socialist Worker. “It’s the most densely populated prison in the world.
“The ethnic cleansing must come to an end and Palestinians must have their right to return recognised.”
He added, “The British government has always supported colonialism, now they’re doing it in again in Palestine.”
The Tories, press and Labour right have tried to smear the Palestine solidarity movement and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as antisemitic.
Criticising Israel and standing against Zionism is not antisemitic. Zionism is the founding ideology of Israel used to justify building a “Jewish state” that excludes Palestinians.
As Victoria said, “It’s really important to distinguish between Jewish people and Israel.
“Israel is a Zionist organisation—and we’re protesting against Zionism not Jewish people.”
A statement was read out from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. He said that Palestinians “have a right to protest against their appalling conditions, the blockade, the continued occupation on Palestinian land, their right to return to their homes and their right to self determination”.
This was stronger than his statement after the killings last week. Corbyn has been under pressure to retreat from his opposition to imperialism since becoming Labour leader and has made some concessions.
There should be no retreats from supporting Palestine.
Kate Hudson from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) said, “History will judge very harshly those who do not stand up for Palestine.
“There can be no equivalence—we have to support Palestine.”
Israel is a racist terror state—it’s right to stand against it.