by David Broder
On Saturday 24th took place the last of the major London demonstrations against the war in Palestine, after almost four weeks of embassy pickets and mass marches. Coming a few days after the end of the war but with a continuing siege of the Palestinians, the protest attracted around 2,500 people. Three people were arrested after clashes with police FIT squads (i.e. cops taking pictures of demonstrators’ faces).
This leaflet was distributed by a network of anti-capitalists who have worked together on Palestine solidarity. Some photos and comments on the day appear below.
The march began with a rally close to the BBC’s Broadcasting House near Great Portland Street. This was in response to the BBC’s decision not to show the Disasters Emergency Committee charity appeal for the Palestinian victims of the conflict, which was criticised by Cabinet ministers. The speeches by the likes of Tony Benn and other Stop the War grandees were characteristic, although a bizarre touch came with a Green Party speaker singing a chunk of Manic Street Preachers hit If you tolerate this after his speech.
Broadcasting House. The Stop the War Coalition newsletter circulated on the 23rd was entitled “URGENT REQUEST TO ALL STOP THE WAR’S SUPPORTERS: GOVERNMENT COMPLAINS TO BBC FOR BLOCKING GAZA APPEAL: JOIN THE GOVERNMENT’S PROTEST: COMPLAIN NOW TO THE BBC” and furthermore commented that “it is imperative that the BBC responds to the government’s complaint and reverses its decision” – odd indeed given the government’s patent hypocrisy and previous attacks on BBC staff opposed to the war in Iraq.
Relatively speaking the placards of the Stop the War Coalition were more dominant on today’s demo than at previous protests, and there were only a sprinking of Hezbollah flags (I did not see any Islamic Republic of Iran or Hamas flags).
Not all of the sentiments on show were desirable, and this crude comparison of historical events does our movement’s credibility no favours.
We marched through Oxford Circus and through Regent Street.
Police guarded this Starbucks (the march was confined to the opposite side of the street) after the smashing-up of a Kensington High Street branch on the 10th January march.
The march had been meant to head for Downing Street, but it was blocked off by a couple of lines of police as well as stewards and barriers.
A rally in Trafalgar Square featured many of the same speakers as when demonstrators assembled, including Tony Benn (who as usual stressed the need to “talk to young people”, the SWP’s Lindsey German, a man extolling the virtues of the “anti-war” Liberal Democrats and speakers from a variety of Islamic organisations. Most interesting was a speaker from the occupation at King’s College London, although he did not exhort protestors to come and take part – thus keeping this potential way of continuing the movement a students-only affair.
As the rally came to a close we were again and again given the sentiment “thanks for coming, you’ve been great, see you next year”. The appeals to fight again next time fell rather flat… particularly as, two weeks after the biggest anti-war mobilisation in six years, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Stop the War’s conservative lobbying tactics had gone on to demobilise the campaign, including the tepid and poorly mobilised 17th January “women and children only” march.
All in all, it felt like a rather deflated end to a surge in the anti-war movement which at times brought many thousands of people into political activity for the first time.
11 thoughts on “photo-report of 24th january london gaza demo”
What really hit me today was that there were much less young Muslim guys than last week and it was pretty tame. There was no march on the Israeli embassy. People think the war’s over but really the war never stops because the blockades, siege and checkpoint constantly cuts off supply lines to the Palestinians and they’re constantly being pushed further and further off their land. Ehud Olmert even said it “The formula for the parameters of a unilateral solution are: To maximize the number of Jews; to minimize the number of Palestinians; not to withdraw to the 1967 border and not to divide Jerusalem. ”
It was more of a leftie than Muslim demo, and smaller. Whether people like it or not, a lot of the anger, energy and numbers came from Muslims in demos, and their relative absence today was noticeable. The actual absence of bombing and ground attacks in Gaza have turned the temperature down somewhat, though I take the point that the war isn’t over. Maybe even Obama has had a slight demobilising effect.
I agree with the commentary on the t-shirt comparing the holocaust to events in Iraq and Palestine, plain wrong whatever the motivation may be. The genocide of the Jews in Europe utilising all the means at the disposal of modern capitalist technology is not comparable to the brutal national oppression in Palestine and the occupation in Iraq.
The attached leaflet is crude, simplistic, low-level anarchist rubbish. You weren’t giving it out, were you? You didn’t help write it, did you?
Why post this here? Do you think it is good?
Tell us where it came from, and why you’ve posted it, and perhaps we could discuss it!
For those of you who had the pleasure of being on a demo instead of at the convention of the Left, you can read some reports of the day here: http://hammer-and-sickle.blogspot.com/2009/01/more-centrists-than-you-can-shake-stick.html
Sorry, can someone answer the question – is the leaflet a Commune production? did you help write it/distribute it? what do you think of it.
Sorry to drag politics into this…
Hi Marcus. If you want to have a discussion, why don’t you start by positively letting us know what you think about issues? I hear it is possible to do this by means other than making an insult and hoping that this provokes someone into responding. As if your first post was ‘political’ in any way.
You should describe in a bit more detail, perhaps with some quotations, what you think about bits of the text. Then we can have a discussion.
edit: it is not a “Commune production”…
Well, I have some questions raised by the leaflet, Its simply a problem to discuss a topic when the material not allows to draw any logical conclusions.
Do you think there is a link between class, class war and imperialism, and what do you mean by this.
Do you see at the moment a class based opposition to capitalism and war in Gaza worth supporting.
And if yes, what is in your oppinion the role of Hamas and the like in regards to class war.
Why is Zionism a more “evil” form of ideology than Islamism.
And does the lip service paid to individual freedom in this leaflet not contradict with the support of the “official” palestinian resistance.
I have to ask this , because I haven´t read any leaflet which explained anything… well, AF – North actually tried. I visited a demonstration against the war , because war is evil, and most of the crowd shouted, “shame on you M&S” ???. sorry, not intended to disturb your “politics”.
I don’t see how those questions relate to the leaflet. I think you’ve got a bunch of issues you want to raise, but you’re not writing very coherently, and you’re not relating what you’re saying to anything said by us, or anyone else in particular for that matter. For example, could you provide a quote which suggests we ‘support the “official” palestinian resistance’, or that we think ‘Zionism is a more “evil” form of ideology than Islamism’ (as if that formulation even makes any sense)?
No? So what are you on about?
My opinion of Hamas is that I oppose them politically, and I encourage no faith in them, but they are nonetheless not the bogeymen (or bogeywomen) that they are made out to be by some. For example, it is sometimes claimed that they intend to destroy Israel, and implied that they want to murder all Jews. This is nonsense.
Ideology is not revealed in quotes but in arguments that are left out, and thus hidden. In this leaflets there are no arguments at all, that you support the palestinian resistance (and I mean every resistance not authorised by Hamas in Gaza is crushed) ..this claim needs no quotes, that´s simply what you do when you support the current anti-war movement. Don´t be that naive! Oh those beaurocrats. But when you are into quoting, have a look on the Hamas propaganda.
My incoherence is a reflection on your progression of thought with no evidence of analytical capability. Actually, while you propagate the anti-war movement it is not clear what your arguments are. Somehow you feel uneased by your wishfull thinking, nice move. Have fun where they get things done. I m outta here. what a nonsense… Norman Finkelstein is the communes political friend, yeah?…nice move…
Comments are closed.