by David Broder
On the day that Israeli tanks rolled into Gaza, threatening a vast escalation of the war on Palestine, tens of thousands of people marched through London in an emergency demonstration.
The march from Embankment to Trafalgar Square (via Whitehall, where around a thousand shoes were thrown at the gates of Downing Street) was followed by a demonstration of around 5000 at the Israeli Embassy in Kensington, where 15 people were arrested after clashes with riot police.
At the demonstration The Commune activists gave out our own leaflet similar to that distributed during the last week’s daily protests at the Israeli Embassy, as well as another collaborative effort calling for the movement to continue. The next demo is at the Israeli Embassy, Kensington at 2pm on Sunday 4th January, followed by daily pickets at 5:30pm every weekday and another march next Saturday (10th January). Pictures and comments about the 3rd January protests below.
Demonstrators massed at Embankment early in the afternoon. The police claimed that 10-12,000 people were present, but the real figure was more likely three times that. Certainly it was reminiscent of the protests which arose in response to the Lebanon war in summer 2006, and was the largest anti-war action for quite some time despite being called at short notice soon after New Year.
The far left turned out in much greater numbers than at the weekday demonstrations, although the placards of Muslim organisations were much more prominent even than those of the SWP and Stop the War Coalition. I challenged a few people who carried placards with the word “Holocaust” as well as those featuring intertwined swastikas and Stars-of-David. Nothing about supporting the Palestinians and opposing the vile Israeli war should imply using such offensive propaganda.
The mass rally in Trafalgar Square.
Unfortunately, although the protest was supposed to support the Palestinians, the flags of the far-right Hezbollah were prominent and exhibited even by ostensible “leftists”, whereas a few others advertised their support for the Iranian régime (conversely, I did not see many Hamas flags).