Protest for Palestine

Friends of Al-Aqsa whiteboard
Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA) whiteboard signed by demonstrators at London’s 17 October “Protest for Palestine

I asked two of our PSC branch’s most active members, who attended the protest, what they took away from it in hindsight.

Q – How many people would you say attended the march? And what was the general atmosphere?

A – [Jihan:] There were at least a thousand people on both sides of the road, Kensington High Street, and as soon as everyone arrived the atmosphere was alive and heaving with chants of passion and solidarity. A warm, welcoming, and powerful vibe of humanity arose from people of all colours, religions, and backgrounds. A truly empowering and uplfting feeling to be among so many determined to be heard and to make a change.

Q – What was, in your mind, its main objective? The main reason you went?

A – [Jihan:] The main objectives were to be heard, to let the Israeli occupying regime know we are not going away, we will not be silenced, we are defiant and united in support of the Palestinian people.

[Wasim:] The main objective was to show the support the Palestinians have here in London. It was a reminder to our leaders that we will always stand with the people in Palestine who are suffering.

Q – And do you feel it is likely to achieve said objective?

A – [Jihan:] I believe the objective is being achieved every time we stand together, with each post we share on social media, with each voice heard at the protests, and with each child I see being taught humanity and how to stand up and be counted. Israel’s impunity is coming to an end, they’ve been unable to stop the movement… in fact, the movement is an unstoppable one, with each day gaining strength and numbers.

Q – Lastly, what would you say to the average person watching/reading about the march? And would that change if you were speaking to politicians?

A – [Jihan:] The thing I say to everyone is, regardless of your beliefs, religions, ethnicities, this is about humanity and justice. The Palestinian people represent all of us, if we allow the dehumanisation and persecution of the Palestinians, we sign away our own fates. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what we all know in our hearts is right, be brave in the face of injustice, and have enough courage to let your voice be heard. Lastly, ask questions, research for yourselves, to dogmatically believe all the Zionist-dominated media tells you is a travesty and you are shirking your responsibility as a human being when you sit back and regurgitate the same lies we’ve been fed for decades. This movement isn’t going away, the Palestinians aren’t going away, the support for justice isn’t going away, is time to ask why!?

[Wasim:] I would if there were TV journalists there, but it’s not shown in the news here.  The Daily Mail, the Telegraph.

I’m totally with Wasim on the fact that, when it comes down to it, the purpose of these marches is to show support for the oppressed, and ultimately not only to reflect unto the wider world this section of public opinion but to convince those who’ve yet to be won over and to inspire them to action too.

And action is what’s needed. The weekend gone, just the second to pass since the Palestine protest, saw another brazen act of defiance from Netanyahu’s administration: the retroactive legalisation of 800 settler homes in the West Bank. The Israeli government’s sheer disregard for the international community only grows, which is all the more surprising after more warnings from the UN and US and Europe that Israel’s nominal commitment to a two-state solution keeps losing credibility, and John Kerry’s more prescient warning perhaps that the current violence represents the one-state reality on the ground that apparently all involved parties are opposed to.

One need go no further than Netanyahu’s toxic rhetoric and absurdities like blaming a former mufti of Jerusalem for the Holocaust to see how the messaging of the Israeli establishment is becoming no less hysterical, in fact (as a column that topped the Washington Post’s, traditionally pro-Zionist, popular reading list said) in their typically out-of-touch manner and in a way that fits the increasingly vile discourse within Israel, its going in the opposite direction. Unfounded and bigoted claims that the Palestinian people desire the elimination of Israel, the Israelis, or even all Jews (as if the unsanctioned, random, unacceptable assaults on Israeli non-combatants count as evidence of this) abound, meanwhile it is the Palestinians that actually face the erasure of their ethnic and civic identity, and dispossession of/alienation from their land, history, and culture.

Keep an eye on this blog and our other social media, we’re having a committee meeting on Wednesday and God-willing – after our recent hiatus – we’ll find ways to ally ourselves with the Palestinians and their struggle in the coming months.

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