Socialist Worker

Cheers as Big Ride for Palestine arrives in east London

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2766

The Big Ride for Palestine at its final rally in Tower Hamlets, east London

The Big Ride for Palestine at its final rally in Tower Hamlets, east London (Pic: Socialist Worker)


At least 200 cyclists ended four days of cycling in solidarity with Palestine with a rally in east London on Sunday.

The Big Ride for Palestine streamed through the London streets chanting “free Palestine” on the final leg of its journey from Bristol.

It was one of the largest and most successful events yet for the annual charity ride—coming just three months after Israel’s assault on Palestinians in May.

One rider, Mohammed, joined the ride on the last day from Luton. He told Socialist Worker, “There were more people on the ride than we expected—and we got more support that we expected too.

“A lot of people were cheering us on and honking their horns.”

Riders got a warm reception as they arrived for their finishing rally. The venue—a park in Tower Hamlets, east London—was significant.

Tower Hamlets council had denied the Big Ride permission to hold a rally in one of the borough’s parks at the end of the 2019 event.

Officials 

Council officials said it could be antisemitic because the Big Ride’s website referred to the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

They said there was a “real risk” that the event could breach the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition. The definition is used to silence such criticism of Israel because one of its attached examples says it could be antisemitic to call the state “a racist endeavour.”

But the numbers of people joining the ride shows there is a renewed support for Palestine—especially after Israel’s assaults and Palestinians’ resistance in May.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign chair Kamel Hawwash celebrated the resistance sparked by protests against evictions in Sheikh Jarrah, Jerusalem.

“Things had been at a low ebb,” he told the rally. “So it fell to group of activists to start a hashtag—#savesheikhjarrah.”

Celine, one of the cyclists, said the ride helped to keep solidarity with Palestine going. “It’s a good cause because we need to hear more about what’s going on in Palestine—in the West Bank and Gaza,” she told Socialist Worker.

“It’s a good way to build solidarity and raise funds. One thing we can do to help Palestine is to raise awareness." 


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