Over 2,000 take to the streets of London as part of ‘International Wave of Solidarity for Palestine on October 19, 2015

 Sara Anna and Lydia NooIncrease Text Size

“Palestinians don’t want to dance in the darkness,” Mahmoud Zwahre from the Palestinian village of al-Masara shouts in our ear over the deafening chants of the crowd. “Advocacy is the most important thing that people outside Palestine can do,” adds the Palestinian Popular Resistance Coordinating Committee member. “Because in Palestine is the struggle, here is the advocacy and then there is the change.”

Around 2,500 men, women and children attended a demonstration outside London’s Israeli embassy on Saturday, as part of an International Wave of Solidarity for Palestine, called for by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Police guarding an entrance to the Israeli embassy on High Street Kensington. There was a heavy police presence during the peaceful demonstration. (Photo: Sara Anna)

Since 1 October, 41 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers and over 1,600 injured. Palestinians across the occupied West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and Israel are participating in mass demonstrations to stand against 67 years of occupation, oppression and ethnic cleansing. The ‘Oslo generation’ of young male and female protesters is inspiring solidarity efforts around the world.

To follow Palestinians’ lead, Sarah Colborne, director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), strongly urged demonstrators at Saturday’s London protest to wave only the Palestinian flag. “We are here united for Palestine and it is this flag that connects us. It is a symbol of Palestinian struggle, justice, peace and freedom.”

Two flags are better than one. Support for Palestine is growing among all sectors of society in the UK. (Photo: Sara Anna)

Addressing the crowd, Glyn Secker from Jews for Justice for Palestinians spoke of the hypocrisy of the Israeli state and international community. “Push a people you have impoverished to the extremities of endurance, push and push again and they will respond with the only repertoire available to them – stones and implements against the overwhelming force of the fourth most powerful army in the world. Then, with all the hypocrisy you can muster, blame them for the violence.”

Metres away from a lone figure brandishing an Israeli flag, he added, “As one of many Jewish voices, we proclaim our anger and sorrow – Israel you do not speak for us. Not in our name.”

Yaman Birawi from the Palestinian Forum in Britain. (Photo: Sara Anna)

Yaman Birawi from the Palestinian Forum in Britain took to the stage to speak of the growing unity of Palestine between the young and the old and the different political parties. “This has given hope to a third Intifada, an uprising, because enough is enough!” he said, before beginning the familiar chant of “Free, Free Palestine!”

Mahmoud Zwahre agreed with the previous speakers. “The situation is different to other waves of uprising, inside Palestine and outside; there is a massive participation of people from all over historical and occupied Palestine. I know that the political atmosphere outside has not changed and mainstream media remains biased, but the way to change it is by organizing these actions.”

A leader in his community’s struggle in Palestine, Zwahre has a unique perspective on solidarity efforts, and is optimistic. “This is not the atmosphere of the first intifada internationally, but it can come step by step. Palestinians are not the people who are going to have cycles of intifada forever. So now is the time for people outside Palestine to increase the pressure and resistance.”

London Palestine Action protestors set off red and green smoke bombs, two of the colours of the Palestinian flag, while blocking traffic at Oxford Circus. (Photo: Sara Anna)

After the confines of the organized demonstration where police and stewards squashed protesters into a small area, direct action group London Palestine Action coordinated acts of creative dissidence in central London. Around 150 people stopped traffic in Oxford Street – London’s busiest shopping street – before forming a human chain in Oxford Circus and marching to the BBC headquarters to protest against biased media coverage of Palestine.

Protesters link arms stopping traffic on Oxford Street. Some hold representations of Handala, a creation of the late Palestinian cartoonist Nagi Al-Ali. Handala bears witness to the Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people. (Photo: Sara Anna)

In front of London’s double-decker buses, Palestinian performance poet and activist, Rafeef Ziadah, warned companies such as G4S and Elbit systems, an Israeli weapons company and a previous target of London Palestine Action, to stop arming the Israeli government. “The games are over and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is going to shut you down!” roared Ziadah, to loud applause.

Palestinian artist and activist Rafeef Ziadah stops traffic on Oxford Street. (Photo: Sara Anna)

For some, it was the first direct action in which they had participated. One London student explained that as she cannot be in Palestine, she thinks that it is important to build solidarity and pressure in Britain using many different forms of protest, so that “people you are supporting know they are not alone.”

Creative dissidence is one of the most “in your face forms of action,” says Sara, media spokesperson for London Palestine Action. The group believes that the publicity puts companies supporting the Israeli occupation under the limelight. As actions often result in a loss of profit, this also provides an incentive for the companies to divest or end their contracts with the Israeli government.

“We chose Oxford Circus because it would be the most visible place: we wanted to show that there was solidarity for the Palestinian resistance.” And it isn’t just about Israel, Britain is complicit, Sara adds. “The colonial violence, the killing and the occupation has to stop, and the right of return for Palestinians and full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel guaranteed.”

Families participated en masse, hoping for freedom for future generations of Palestinian children. (Photo: Sara Anna)

14 Responses

  1. Ossinev

    October 19, 2015, 12:30 pm

    Great to see this and hopefully it is the start of something bigger and more widespread throughout the UK and Europe. Judging by the increase in overt brutality by the Zionist scum currently running the show in Israel and the occupied territories, the complicity of the US and the cowardice of the EU and European governments in failing to take any meaningful action , the only way forward is BDS and mass demonstrations. I hope that the BDS movement can crank up it`s campaign and would suggest an increased focus on sporting events and Israeli participation in international sporting events. BDS should directly address national and international sport government bodies over their complicity in allowing representatives of an apartheid nation to participate in their events. A good starter would be online appeals to the growing world wide running community to distance itself from Israel and Israeli Athletics eg a call to boycott next year`s Jerusalem Apartheid Marathon and any and other race events or triathlon type events in the country.

    Yes innocent and undeserving Israeli Jews and Palestinians will suffer and be deprived as a result of these actions but such also was the case with South African apartheid.

    • Rodneywatts

      October 19, 2015, 3:59 pm

      Absolutely with you Ossinev. I just wish I lived nearer to London at times like this. Sadly the situation in I/P is so much worse than it was in SA, and, as I have pointed out previously, whilst BDS was important in SA there were also important military/armed contributions. Of course the latter meant sacrifice of life for some such as the brother of a friend of mine who chose the ‘terrorist’ path.
      Unless something dramatic happens soon to remove support for the heinous regime in Israel, on an international governmental level as you suggest above, I can only see more and more bloodshed. Israel is surely about to reap the whirlwind and yet more innocents will also die. So much for the security promised by the thieving oppressor racists in charge of Israel.

      Of course many thanks to the reporters Sara Anna and Lydia Noon for the article. Come on UK lets show the way!!

  2. Citizen

    October 19, 2015, 5:12 pm

    In my area of USA there has been no coverage of these demonstrations at all on the main stream TV cable news & infotainment shows.

  3. Palikari

    October 20, 2015, 10:51 am

    Funny.

    Hundreds of Madrid residents took to the streets a few days ago to show their solidarity with Israel. Also in Rome. Those demonstrations had much less propaganda than anti-Israel demonstrations. Viva Espana and Italia!

    Europe is starting to wake up.

    • Annie Robbins

      October 20, 2015, 11:46 am

      yes, we heard “the Jewish community brought over 300 people to stand by Israel” in madrid. link to ynetnews.com

      in a city of over 3 million people this is not surprising. it would be the equivalent of 80 people showing up in san francisco in support of israel.

    • Rodneywatts

      October 20, 2015, 2:29 pm

      ‘Europe is starting to wake up.’ Right on Palikari , or should I call you ‘Lad’ as one of the translations of the Greek word palikari? How on earth did you have the audacity to choose the name of a film about Louis Tikas, brutally murdered in the corporate oppression of miners in the US in 1913/14 ? However you do clearly put yourself on the side of the brutal oppressor corporations which were forerunners of regimes like Israel. link to palikari.org

      Annie, thank you for your link and comment — The truth is that more and more anti -Israel sentiment is being expressed (without much conflation with anti-semitism, due to the increasing, so important, part being played by members of Jewish communities). Your link points out the placards with ‘Yo estoy con Israel’ but zionistas are only dreaming if they think that there would be less placards with ‘Yo estoy en contra de Israel’ – ‘I am against Israel’ in rival demos.

    • Marnie

      October 21, 2015, 7:53 am

      And you put me right to sleep. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

    • eljay

      October 21, 2015, 8:07 am

      || Palikari: Funny. Hundreds of Madrid residents took to the streets a few days ago to show their solidarity with Israel. Also in Rome. … ||

      Only a hateful and immoral idiot would celebrate a show of support for oppression, colonialism and supremacism. Not funny at all.

  4. Ossinev

    October 20, 2015, 1:24 pm

    @palikari
    “Those demonstrations had much less propaganda than anti-Israel demonstrations. ”

    “Those demonstrations had much less propaganda than anti-Israel demonstrations. ”

    “Those demonstrations had much less propaganda than anti-Israel demonstrations. ”

    Yup. Tried to get my head round this at least three times and counting. On the face of it it seems like a”balanced” statement however I think it has more likely been a DIY amendment to a Hasbara manual staple which has spun out of control and flopped on its side rather like a robot which has run out of battery power.

    Please ease my misery. Are you saying that both the Pro Israel and the Anti – Israel
    demonstrations had”propaganda” but that the Pro-Israel ones had”less”. If so can you give me an idea of notional percentages . And to really put me out of my misery would you please define what you mean by “propaganda” in both instances and give examples from each of the demonstrations.

  5. Rashers2

    October 20, 2015, 2:21 pm

    It is a pity that the number weren’t 25,000 rather than 2,500; and that I couldn’t participate. A good, “Welcome to Britain,” however, for that nice Ambassador Regev.
    Listening today after dinner to Mileikowsky spinning his, “We only want to preserve the status quo [at the Noble Sanctuary]…” line in his joint press appearance with Ban Ki-Moon, I had to switch the TV news off as it was interfering with my digestion.

    • Kay24

      October 20, 2015, 2:38 pm

      A few posters showing the shrinking map of Palestine should have been flashed around. It would have been a great welcome for Lying Regev.

    • Rodneywatts

      October 20, 2015, 2:44 pm

      Hey Rashers2, nice to see you again using that truly ancient Jewish name of Mileikowsky to correctly refer to the king of muppets and at least it is more respectful than Nuttyyahoo.

      • Rashers2

        October 21, 2015, 2:13 am

        Rodneywatts, the reasons I call him “Mileikowsky” are: a) it is his family name; b) the adopted name means “Gift from God” and, even as an agnostic myself, Mileikowsky’s conduct makes acquiescing in such a conceit difficult for me; and c) it may serve to remind any who reflect on the usage that he (in common with the great majority of Ashkenazim colonists) has few genuine, Levantine pretensions but that his heritage is solidly European.

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