By Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2881

Palestine assembly shows mood to fight Israeli oppression

Lots of events are set for the next few days
Issue 2881
Packed room at Palestine assembly

People packed into the sessions (Picture: Lewis Nielsen)

A call for resistance to Israeli terror—and its imperialist backers in Downing Street—went out from an organising assembly of over 800 people in north London on Monday night.

More than 500 people filled three rooms inside, while a queue of people stretched down Holloway Road after it had already started. And outside over 300 people, who couldn’t make it into one of the overflow rooms, joined a street meeting. 

Ashraf from the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM) said, “The ongoing Nakba seeks to finish the job that began in 1948—the ethnic cleansing of us all.

“The Palestinian cause is not a foreign, humanitarian struggle—organise yourselves in communities, target the offices for MPs that refuse to call for a ceasefire.”

Ashraf called on people to back the Palestinian people’s right to resist. “The unified demand of Palestinians is for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire, but our solidarity with Palestinians cannot be conditional,” he said. 

“Palestinian liberation will not be achieved unless Zionism—an imperialist, expansionist ideology—is confronted. This is the task at hand—we must not relent and we say at the top of our voices, ‘Not in our name’.” 

The assembly showed the movement for Palestine—young, radical and Muslim—that has burst onto the streets shows no sign of abating.

Samira Ali, a university student, said, “One million people marched through the streets of London on Saturday. Not only did we see the biggest demo for Palestine in British history, but we’ve seen students walking out of universities and people taking over train stations saying, ‘Shut it down for Palestine.’ 

People want to demonstrate—but they also want to do more with walkouts, protests, sit-ins and occupations. 

Doctor Ayo Khalil is a supporter of the Workers For A Free Palestine group, which mobilised 400 people to blockade a BAE arms factory in Kent last week. He called for an immediate ceasefire, an arms embargo and “an end to the racist, Zionist occupation for good”.

Khalil said the “marches have been good, they’ve brought people together”, but said people had to go further too. 

“We need to start targeting individual offices of MPs,” he said. “We need to be more strategic and more focused. We need to make them feel the desperation, we need to make them feel a ceasefire is inevitable. 

“Shame on the Conservative Party, shame on the Labour Party, shame on Keir Starmer.” 

Toufik Kacimi from Muslim Welfare House in Finsbury Park was furious with the Tories and the Labour Party. “I will never vote for them again,” he said, to loud cheers from the crowd in the main hall. 

In semi-darkness people in the street listen to a speaker outside the Palestine assembly

The crowd was so big that speakers had to address people in the street outside the venue

“Why would politicians call a march for peace a hate march? It is racism—it is pure racism, nothing more than that.”

After hearing the speakers, the assembly split into three break-out sessions—students, trade unionists and local areas.

Around 100 trade unionists discussed how they would push for workplace actions this Wednesday, 15 November—a day of workplace action called by Stop The War. Some colleges, which are already on strike over pay this week, are going to theme actions around Palestine. 

Others are trying to organise lunchtime protests and meetings. Some workers spoke about how they’ve faced intimidation from bosses.

One college lecturer described how they had organised a lunchtime action. “I was nervous about doing it, but we have to do it again,” she said, ”We will do it every single week until there is a ceasefire and I think we’ll get more people.

This Friday is a day of action for campuses. At the student breakout, they discussed how to keep up the momentum for walkouts and protests on campus. 

Sophia Beach is a Jewish anti-Zionist and national student organiser for the Socialist Worker Student Society (SWSS). She said, “There are two sides, the side of the oppressed and the side of the oppressor—and I know which side I’m on.

“I want to see the Palestinians win, I want to see victory—and that victory doesn’t look like two states. It looks like a single, secular democratic state. Any state has to give the right to return to every single Palestinian refugee.” 

To win that, she said, “Our focus should be in the streets, we’re here to organise.” 

In the main hall Richard Boyd Barrett, an Irish TD for People Before Profit, celebrated the over 800,000 people who took to the streets of London last Saturday. “It is your action, of mobilising on that scale, that is the only hope for the Palestinians,” he said. 

“They face the horrors being inflicted on them by Israel and its Western backers, that is the movement that is going to stop those horrors.” 

He added, “We have to expose the lies that Israel is using to legitimise all of this—and the key lie is that this industrial-scale slaughter has something to do with self-defence.

“Apartheid has no right to self-defence, ethnic cleansing has no right to self-defence, illegal occupation has no right to self-defence.” 

“Who are the oppressed and who are the oppressors? The oppressor is the Israeli apartheid, settler colonial state. It is the Palestinians who are the oppressed, who have the right to self-defence, who have the right to resist.” 

The former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis said the movement had to show politicians that it would “haunt your days, haunt your nights”. He said, “Our rulers will not push” for a ceasefire—let alone freedom and justice. “When our rulers fail history, it is the people who must make history,” he said.

The crowd gave huge cheers whenever people spoke about the Tory crisis that erupted today after Braverman tried to ban the march on Saturday. 

Shelly Asquith is co-chair of the Stop The War Coalition, one of the organisers of the mass marches in London. She said the movement had “demonstrated that marching does make a difference—if it didn’t, they wouldn’t have tried to stop us”. 

“We can absolutely take credit for Suella Braverman’s downfall,” she said. “She may be out of the door today, but tomorrow we’re coming for the rest of them.”

She added, “A ceasefire is the bare minimum to stop this genocide”. 

The organisers of Saturday’s march called for a lobby of parliament on Wednesday, 15 November as MPs discuss a ceasefire. Then there will be local protests across Britain next Saturday, 18 November, and another national demonstration soon. 

It’s up to everyone to deepen the movement that we’ve seen on the streets—and keep rising up for Palestine

Sign up for our daily email update ‘Breakfast in Red’

Latest News

Make a donation to Socialist Worker

Help fund the resistance