demo stops IDF propaganda meeting in london, 29th january

Report and photos by Jack Staunton

On the evening of Thursday 29th January a 100-strong demonstration took place outside a building hosting a meeting  addressed by Israeli army (IDF) colonel Geva Rapp. The colonel had planned to come and advertise a pro-war book, tell stories of his military career and preach “unity among Israelis”, but anti-war activists stopped the event going ahead.

The turnout – overwhelmingly young people – was quite impressive given that the protests were organised with just a few hours’ advance notice of the meeting taking place. The IDF propaganda rally had not been publicly advertised, but a leaked circular email explained:

“London Jsocs will be hosting Colonel Geva Rapp, the head of the ground operations in Gaza (Operation Cast Lead)! This talk should be extremely interesting and valuable. However, please do not talk about this event on facebook due to security concerns and current high tension surrounding the conflict.”

True, the organisers were exaggerating somewhat the role of Geva Rapp in the war: but nonetheless succeeded in displaying their enthusiasm for the attack on the Palestinians and furthermore no doubt their “editorialising” helped attract more people to the anti-war demonstration. Some (blurry) photos and comments on the action below:

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Around two dozen police, along with eight Israeli security men with earpieces, guarded the front door of the building where the meeting was due to take place. Protesters outside the building on London’s Euston Road enthusiastically shouted “Free, Free, Palestine”, “Viva Palestina” and slogans and chants attacking Rapp as a war criminal. The Socialist Workers Party had a meeting on Gaza a couple of doors down at Friends’ Meeting House, but only a couple of their activists were in presence and, no doubt due to the short notice for the action,  few people were selling left groups’ materials or leafletting.

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The police soon attempted to clear the street, prompting a sit-down by about fifteen people, mostly anarchists. Three were dragged away from the picket.

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This man – who, it was reported with some excitement, had previously been arrested by US troops in Iraq for his protests – scaled the wall of an adjacent restaurant…

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… and, placard in hand, shimmied along a ledge up to the meeting venue, banging on the windows. He stayed up there for around an hour, with the crowd continuing to chant in full voice, including “Solidarity with the man on the roof!”

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The police had repeatedly called on the crowd to disperse or face arrest. The news from a contact inside the building that the meeting had been cancelled, as well as police comments to the same effect, led to most people’s departure. However, a few dozen stayed, shouting at the police “You go first”… and in scuffles as the police tried to break up the picket and pushed demonstrators away from the building, three people were arrested. Indeed a number of police and the rabble of security guards stayed behind after the Euston Road area had been cleared, raising some doubts over the claim that we had been successful in preventing the meeting taking place.

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One Stop the War legal observer was punched by a woman constable, prompting this PC to comment “If you don’t want to get assaulted, don’t come here”.

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7 thoughts on “demo stops IDF propaganda meeting in london, 29th january

  1. ‘… and, placard in hand, shimmied along a ledge up to the meeting venue, banging on the windows. He stayed up there for around an hour, with the crowd continuing to chant in full voice, including “Solidarity with the man on the roof!”’

    Awesome.

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  2. Hi I this is a good and accurate report. I’m glad someone has blogged it already but for the record there were 15 of us there from swp students from quite a few different universities and all of us stayed until spiderman came down. We had been organising it with anachist comrades since yesterday and brought the megaphone and lots of the leaflets on the issue from Jews for Justice for Palestinians which we gave out to onlookers. We also came with other activists from the palestine twinning campaigns in each of our universities.

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  3. Its hardly propoganda. just an opportunity for more bleeding heart uk liberals to shout and scream about something they know nothing about. Other than of course the propoganda they are spoon fed by the Guardian and BBC.

    If you actually lived and experienced the threat of terrorisim Israelis have to put up with on a daily basis..

    I wonder what cause will be popular next, after all Darfur is so last year…

    Wake up people 7/7 and 9/11 were not that long ago we too have experirenced terrorisim!

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  4. The European Left is so pitiful that, like a traveler in the desert longing for a single drop of water, it seems to aspire for nothing more than the meager feeling of an abstract objection. From the little with which it is satisfied one can measure the extent of its poverty. It is as alien to history as the proletariat is alien to this world.False consciousness is its natural condition, the spectacle is its element, and the apparent opposition of systems is its universal frame of reference: wherever there is a conflict it always sees Good fighting Evil, “total revolution” versus “total reaction.” The arm of critique is the prelude to the critique by arms. You are soooo pathetic, especially the window cleaner.

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  5. hi, i was the legal observer who got punched ; )

    for the record, i am not a STW legal observer. i organised a group of lawyer friends and other volunteers to observe the police at the 17th demo@the embassy. just 2 of us came down yesterday. we were there as private individuals, not from STW.

    can i disassociate myself from STW any further? lol. their stewards only seem to do the police’s job, just as the jewish police within the warsaw ghetto, or indeed fatah within the west bank.

    i thought the action was excellent. good level of militancy and pride in the morality of opposing war criminals. people stood up for their rights very well. the main Euston road was blocked for some time. the MET had to mobilise at least 50 officers to police the protest. the climber brought inspiration and courage to focus the protest.

    people wanted to express their collective power to prevent a platform for a war criminal, and they weren’t about to let the police stop them. i think it was successful and worthwhile.

    incidentally i got manhandled by 2 other officers before having the pleasure of meeting the punchy one ; ) but since i am a lawyer, and spend half my life advising people in police stations, i have learnt not to take their actions personally, or too seriously. i’ve a mind to put in a complaint against the punchy officer, not so much for the punch, but for the unnecessary cursing afterwards. she told me to F off, twice, for no apparent reason. it was hurtful to my delicate ears ; )

    keep on fighting. it is right to oppose israeli war crimes. the hundreds of children killed in 22 days of blitzkrieg are testament to the fact that occupation is the root of the problem, whereas the resistance to it is a right and an honour.

    well done everyone. Fahim

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