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‘We can’t be even-handed—side with Palestinians,’ say protesters

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Issue 2414
Protesting for Gaza in London
Protesting for Gaza in London (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Up to 100,000 people filled the streets of central London last Saturday in protest at Israel’s continuing assault on Gaza.

Thousands protested in several other towns and cities across Britain. They included 2,000 in Birmingham and 3,000 in both Cardiff and Rochdale.

In London demonstrators chanted “Free, free Palestine,” and “David Cameron—shame on you”.

Young children held signs reading, “Israel—stop killing children like me.”

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Coalition and the Muslim Association of Britain initiated the protest. Its size meant buses, tubes and trains were full of Palestinian flags and banners.

Iman on the protest in London

Iman on the protest in London (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Iman was one of the first to arrive. She told Socialist Worker, “Our family in the West Bank tell us things are getting worse and worse. The war in Gaza needs to stop. Everyone has to make a stand.”

Alex Kenny from the NUT union’s national executive committee told Socialist Worker, “We can’t be even-handed about what’s happening in Gaza. 

“We need to take sides and stand firmly with the Palestinians.”

Cheers erupted when it was announced that a live videolink to Gaza would take place. Anas Altikriti from the Muslim Association of Britain told the crowd, “We are marching to Westminster, where the decision was made to give the land of Palestine to Zionists.

“Today we are standing against that decision.”

John Gray, a member of the Unison union’s national executive committee called Israel’s actions “illegal”. NUS Black Students Officer Malia Bouattia also called for an end to Israel’s “illegal siege”.

Ismail Patel from Friends of Al-Aqsa said Cameron is a hypocrite. “He says Israel has a right to defend itself,” he told the crowd. “We say Palestine has a right to defend itself.”

Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn noted that Chile’s government has stopped trading with Israel. “What about our government?” he asked. “We say to our government—act in our name, not in the name of arms manufacturers.”

Other speakers brought solidarity from Jews for Justice, the TUC, the PCS and Sinn Fein.

Reject ‘anti-semitism’ claims

Israeli propaganda tries to link the struggle for Palestinian freedom to anti-semitism.

Miriam Scharf, who is of Jewish heritage and a campaigner for Palestinian rights, refutes this. 

She told Socialist Worker, “It has absolutely nothing to do with anti-semitism. 

“It’s about human rights, social justice and anti-racism.

“I have met many Muslims while I’ve been campaigning. 

“All of us make a clear distinction between Zionism and being Jewish.”

Miriam argued that it is Zionism, not the Palestinian struggle, that is racist.

“If you have colonial nationalism, which is what Zionism is, then racism must come with it,” she explained.

“You can’t treat people in that way unless you justify it. If you ethnically cleanse people and  treat them as less important, racism goes with that.”

 The media—balance or bias?

The media has apparently tried to find “balance” in reporting Israel’s assault on Gaza. 

The BBC, for example, has a correspondent in Israel and a correspondent in Gaza.

While reporting the hundreds of deaths in Gaza it also talks about how rocket attacks have killed around 40 Israeli soldiers.

Israel is the occupier and the fourth military power in the world. 

It is slaughtering the occupied Gaza which has no army and no navy. 

Presenting this massacre as a war of equal sides lends support to the Israeli regime and its ludicrous claims to be engaging in self-defence.



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