Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Marching Together. End the War on Gaza!

 SOME say as many as 100,000 people marched in London on Saturday, July 19, against the war in Gaza, and in support of Palestinian freedom.
It was certainly big. There were also demonstrations in Tel Aviv and Haifa, and several Jewish groups took part in the demonstration in London.

That's the corner of the red Jewish Socialists' Group banner, with its distinctive Magen David shaped logo, that you can see among the marching crowd in Whitehall in my photo, above.  The photo below was among a few posted on Facebook by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. I'm not sure, but I think the young people with the improvised banner may be linked with a fairly new group called Young Jewish Left.

In both pictures you can see a placard with the Hebrew slogan "Dai LeKibbush" -Enough of the Occupation! -which is used by the Israeli peace camp.

I wasn't able to go to the Israeli embassy with the march, so reaching home later I switched on the TV news to see how it was reported. Perhaps I blinked, because I missed any mention on BBC or ITV , though it did make al Jazeira. Perhaps if there'd been some violence and lots of arrests the media would have taken more interest; but friends say it all passed off peacefully, which considering the understandable feelings about Gaza, the numbers on the march, and the youth and inexperience of some of them, is a tribute both to the sense of the crowd and the care taken by the organisers.

According to a blogger for the Tory Spectator, mind, the streets of London on Saturday were full of "antisemites"!  I must have missed them. Though I stood in Whitehall and watched the march go past I did not even spot any obviously offensive or "iffy" placards. Nor did the Spectator correspondent, it seems, as for evidence to damn the thousands, including presumably the Jews, who marched in London, he cites some regrettable incidents after a march in Paris, and some Muslim cleric who, so far as I know, had nothing to do with the march in London, or events in Palestine.

And to think that the Spectator used to get accused of antisemitism itself, and not only because of its onetime Foreign Office "Arabist" associations. Mind you, it also used to be thought of as an intellectual magazine.

Our true blue blogger does take the marchers to task for protesting against Israeli actions, and supposedly not condemning the ISIS terror in Iraq. Well in fact, a leaflet widely distributed on Saturday's march did condemn the ISIS actions along with those of the IDF. But as far as I know the so-called Islamic Caliphate has not set up an embassy or mission in London, so it is hard to see where a demonstration against their actions could go to.  Perhaps with the reports that ISIS was financed and armed by the Saudis, and as yet unconfirmed claims that the "rebels" received US military training, a demonstration against the Saudi embassy would be in order, though I doubt whether anyone from the Spectator would organise it.

Getting back to those Jewish demonstrators, at a meeting I had to attend on Saturday a trade union brother was remarking that he had met some Jews on a Gaza demonstration, as though this was something new, and I gathered he was referring to the highly visible religious Neturei Karta types. (Has anyone seen a female of the species?  Guess you have to grow a beard. At least some of the Muslim brothers do let their partners and daughters out to demonstrate, there were plenty of them on Saturday.)   Other speakers prefaced their remarks by saying they were not religious, as though the war in Gaza was about religion.  

Asad Rehman, an anti-racist activist in east London, has been involved in moe than one campaign, and has a more sophisticated awareness. Talking about the photographs posted by PSC on Facebook, Asad commented: 

"I wouldn't normally share this as I don't think there is anything new about Jewish groups supporting the people of Palestine. In fact during the 1st intifada the Jewish socialist group David Rosenberg, anti-Zionists such as Mike Marqusee Michael Rosen Arthur Neslen were at the forefront of solidarity with the people of Palestine at the very moment that the religious leaders of the Muslim community remained silent.
          Free Palestine!!"

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