By Socialist Worker journalists
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250,000 march in London to mark 76 years of the Nakba

A huge march of 250,000 people swept through London on Saturday. It centred on remembering the Nakba, when Zionists ethnically cleansed over 800,000 Palestinians to set up the Israeli state in 1948
Issue 2906
A crowd shot of the student bloc at the front of the Nakba march in London

The student bloc on the Nakba march in London (Picture: Guy Smallman)

The Central Line Tube from Stratford to Oxford Street was late. Waiting for the train, more and more people piled onto the platform. Many were wearing Palestinian Keffiyeh scarves and holding handmade banners.

They finally entered the train and at every stop more people on their way to the national demonstration poured on.

An hour before the march was set to head off, protesters were already chanting. Health workers led chants of, “We believe that we will win,” clapping their hands and jumping in the air. Their energy was infectious, and crowds gathered around to join in.

Every long-standing symbol of Palestinian resistance was present at the demonstration, from olive branches to doves.

Leading the demonstration were British Palestinians holding keys to represent the promise that the displaced will one day return to their land.

The new symbols of resistance were also present at the demonstration. Protesters marched with photos and paintings of Hind, a Palestinian child murdered by Israel.

The familiar sound of the popular Ana Dammi Falastini (My Blood is Palestinian), by Palestinian singer Mohammed Assaf, rang through the air. There are banners everywhere people have made to remember 76 years since the Nakba.

Many of the banners had been reused on previous demonstrations, a sign of how people are coming back and marching time and time again. Parents pushing buggies lined the road. Despite the noise, some of the younger demonstrators had managed to fall asleep. 

At Piccadilly Circus, the marchers found that Zionists were trying to block their way. The rabble completely failed in their objectives as they were outnumbered by pro-Palestine demonstrators.

Protesters raged against the pro-Israel mob, chanting, “Shame, shame”. The loudest and angriest among them were Muslim women.

The students who had joined the demonstration from the encampments were one of the liveliest sections of the demonstration. Most had brought their banners they had made in their camps. Textile students at UAL had made an embroidered banner in their occupation. 

Saturday’s demonstration was defiant, furious, and revealed the breadth and diversity of the movement. 

Sophie Squire 

Edinburgh sees biggest national demo so far 

Around 10,000 marched in Edinburgh on the Scottish national demo called by the Gaza Genocide Emergency Committee (GGEC). 

GGEC stewards said to Socialist Worker that this was the biggest national demo in Edinburgh so far. 

It marched to the encampment outside the Scottish parliament and was overwhelmingly young and very angry and energetic.

Meanwhile, over 1,000 people joined the demonstration through Cardiff . This was followed by a rally at the Cardiff University encampment.

Voices from the London march

Salma from Southall in west London said, “Good on the students for setting up encampments to call out their universities. Anyone silent in this is complicit. Joe Biden’s and Labour shadow foreign secretary David Lammy’s calls for pauses on arms are ridiculous.

“Labour can get lost. I didn’t vote Labour in the recent election and I won’t in the general election either.”

Komal came to her first demonstration on Saturday. “Israel hasn’t been able to beat Hamas,  Hezbollah in Lebanon or the Houthis in Yemen,” she said. “I’m really happy to be here marching with everyone for Palestinian freedom today.” 

Laure from South London told Socialist Worker she’s been on most of the national demonstrations. “I used to vote Labour but no longer with Starmer in charge. I’m going to have to weigh up my options closer to the general election,” she said.

“I’m joining the marches partly to be able to say that I was on the right side of history.”

Keith, a healthcare worker in Norwich, said that the student movement is a “vital step and students need to link in with the wider workers’ movement”. “If workers were to refuse to work, the whole industry can start to grind to a halt,” he said. 

Javid, a university lecturer in London, said, “At the moment there is a conflict in unions. Some are about just fighting for a wage, some are about fighting imperialism.” 

Giai from Italy said, “It’s good to see young people mobilising. I know we might not have had wins in terms of stopping Israel, but to see people waking up to what’s been happening for the last 75 years is inspiring.”

George, from London, said the movement has increased “the solidarity between everyone”. “There are lots of people from different backgrounds supporting Palestine,” he said. 

“It’s like a battering ram—as long as this movement keeps happening, those supporting Israel, like universities and the government, will feel it.”

Julia, a software engineer, said, “I live in Oxford and travelled down to London today to commemorate Nakba day and remember the 76 years of Palestinian resistance and to say that Palestinians have a right to their land.”

Julia attacked the lies of the Israeli state. She said, “The invasion of Rafah is outrageous. They asked everyone to go to south Gaza and now they are attacking the south. They said it was safe but now it’s not safe.” 

And she said that the Palestine movement must continue until Palestinians are free. “Israel wants us to get tired and the movement to die down. We can’t let that happen. We have to keep going,” she said.

Shimshun, who travelled from Chesterfield to march, said, “Justice for Palestine is the single most important issue in politics right now. Everyone should join these protests.”

He added, “More direct action is needed. We need to shut down any organisation that is complicit in Israel’s genocide.”

New people join the marches all the time

Socialist Worker’s regular survey of demonstrators showed there are still many people joining the national marches

How many of these national marches in London have you been on?

1: 13 percent

2:  9 percent

3:  5 percent

4:  7 percent

5:  8 percent

6:  8 percent

7:  6 percent

8:  4 percent

9: 10 percent

10: 12 percent

11: 7 percent

12: 6 percent 

13: 5 percent

The record of a social explosion

National demonstrations for Palestine in London: 

14 Oct: 150,000

21 Oct: 300,000

28 Oct: 500,000

11 Nov: 800,000 to one million

25 Nov: 300,000

9 Dec: 120,000

13 Jan: 500,000

3 Feb: 225,000

17 Feb: 250,000

9 Mar: 450,000

30 Mar: 200,000

27 Apr: 200,000

18 May: 250,000

Poll backs end to arms sales

A big majority of people in Britain want an immediate ceasefire in Gaza—and back Britain ending arms sales to Israel. 

That’s the finding of a  YouGov poll commissioned by Medical Aid for Palestine and the Council for Arab-British Understanding. 

The survey found that 55 percent want to halt arms sale and only 13 percent want to continue them

And  73 percent of people support an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Only 8 percent believe that there should not be one. Those for a ceasefire include 67 percent of those who voted Conservative in 2019 and 86 percent who backed  Labour. 

Just 18 percent approve of the British government’s approach to Gaza—and 12 percent approve of the Labour party’s approach to Gaza.

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