Barclays UK HQ. Photo: GroupEditor/cropped from original/licensed under CC-BY-SA-4.0 -

A vibrant demonstration in solidarity with Palestinians in Brighton and Hove exposed Barclays’ role in Israeli apartheid, reports Ellen Graubart

On Saturday 25 March, Brighton and Hove PSC gave a loud and clear message to Barclays Bank: ‘Don’t Bank on Apartheid’in front of Brighton’s main branch, on North Street, one of its busiest shopping streets. The demonstration was part of the National Day of Action organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign against Barclays’ support of the Israeli state’s armed and violent repression of the Palestinian people. It was run jointly by PSC, War on Want and Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).

The Brighton demonstration was brilliantly organised by Brighton and Hove PSC and supported by a band of fantastic drummers, local climate activists from Extinction Rebellion campaigning against Barclays’ investments in fossil fuels. The demonstrators blocked the main entrance to the bank for an hour and a half with a huge ‘Barclays: Don’t Bank on Apartheid’ banner, demonstrators waving Palestinian flags and giving out leaflets, and the Extinction Rebellion activists, whose drumming made sure no one could ignore the message being delivered.

As a finale, the demonstrators then occupied the bank – noisily but peacefully – after entering through a side door (the front door had been closed). They carried the large banner and waved Palestinian flags – drummers and all occupied the bank for several minutes. The sound of drumming echoed throughout the interior of Barclays’ main bank. The staff was nowhere to be seen. It was rumoured that the police had been called, but they did not turn up.

Then, after a dignified exit, the demonstration carried on outside. The event had proved extremely successful and all the leaflets had been taken by passers-by, who had shown sympathy and support. Many more people have been made aware of the dreadful situation of Palestinians living under brutal occupation under Israeli apartheid.

Free Palestine, end Apartheid!

Barclays provides huge investment and financial services to arms companies, facilitating the provision of weapons, components and military technology which is being used in Israel’s armed and violent repression of Palestinians. Militarised violence against the Palestinian people is a central feature of Israel’s occupation and apartheid regime, including the illegal Apartheid Wall, demolitions of Palestinian homes, brutal armed crackdowns on Palestinian protestors, and indiscriminate bombing campaigns of the Gaza Strip. Palestinians are resisting Israel’s oppression and are calling on people of conscience to act to end the complicity of governments, corporations, and financial institutions.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign has investigated Barclays, and found that:

‘Barclays holds shares in Elbit Systems, an Israeli arms manufacturer which provides 85% of the drones used by the Israeli military. Its subsidiaries provide 80% of equipment to Israel’s land forces. Barclays also holds shares in General Dynamics, which produces gun systems that arm Israel’s F-16 and F-35 fighter jets, utilised in Israel’s repeated aerial bombardments of the besieged Gaza Strip.

By providing investment and financial services to these arms companies, Barclays facilitates the provision of weapons and technology for Israel’s militarised repression of Palestinians, and lends legitimacy to those providing equipment for this purpose.

Palestinians are resisting Israel’s oppression and are calling on people of conscience to act to end the complicity of governments, corporations, and financial institutions. This includes demanding the implementation of a comprehensive two-way military embargo with Israel.’

The more people learn about Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians, the more they will support boycott and disinvestment campaigns. Saturday’s demonstration in Brighton was a good step forward in spreading this knowledge.

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Ellen Graubart

Ellen Graubart was born in India of American parents and came to London from Virginia as a teenager to study art. She lives and works as an artist in Hackney. She is a member of Counterfire, Stop the War and Hackney Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

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