In the first of a monthly series, Sybil Cock lays out what Palestine solidarity must look like in practice
Recently we heard that the Abu Assab family, who have lived in their home in the occupied Old City of Jerusalem for 65 years, were evicted, and the house handed over to settlers. The settlers entered the home, assisted by the Israeli military, assaulted and then detained the father and a son, and made the family abandon their property. Israeli courts had deemed that the land on which the house was built belonged to settlers under the arcane ‘Absentee Property Law’.
My reaction was different. It came at the end of an intense weekend of activism at the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in London. 50 delegates from branches discussed in detail how we can make our solidarity more visible.
The Trump era has sharpened the struggle over Palestine, and his focus on Israel makes our tasks as socialists clearer. Although he may be unveiling a new ‘peace plan’ in the coming months, the bones of it are clear already. Jerusalem will be off the table. There will be an attempt to redefine the meaning of Refugees as shown by the US de-funding of UNRWA. The slaughter in Gaza (and elsewhere) continues, largely unreported.
The coming year has many opportunities, and it is these, that we discussed in such detail. PSC has a wealth of information to support these campaigns, with much more on the way.
The Palestinian Boycott National Committee informs our BDS targets. For the last year we have focussed on HSBC bank, because of its funding of the Israeli arms industry. There have been numerous stalls, pickets and demonstrations across the country of HSBC branches. Last year they divested form Elbit Systems (a victory for us) and the focus will now be on Caterpillar, who provide the bulldozers that demolish Palestinian homes. British Cycling is sponsored by HSBC and Cycling Palestine has asked us to contact the UK’s 1700 cycling clubs to raise the issue. Birmingham Pride is sponsored by HSBC and major campaigns around these will shortly be announced.
Ahed Tamimi is just the most visible tip of the iceberg. Israel routinely takes children as young as 12 from their homes, shackles and blindfolds them in solitary confinement in illegal settlements and forces them to sign confessions in Hebrew. The campaigning focus here is Parliamentary – an Early Day Motion (EDM 563) has now been signed by 145 MPs. Ask your MP to sign, and to ask the Foreign Office what has been done. This issue is very easy to campaign on – it is not possible to see the pictures and videos without evoking anger and a political response. PSC branches will be holding events around Palestinian Prisoners day on 17th April and Universal Children’s day on 20th November.
Eurovision in Israel
There have already been demonstrations at the BBC in Manchester and London as the Boycott call gathers steam, supported by many artists. We will be hosting ‘Not the Eurovision’ Parties and events on the day (May 18th).
Puma is the sponsor for the Israeli Football Association. It also sponsors Newcastle United – this contract will be up for renewal shortly. The IFA includes several clubs which are based in illegal settlements in the West Bank, and Palestinian athletes have asked that we campaign on this. Ironically, Puma makes a big deal of its support for Black athletes with a campaign for ‘social change’, inspired by Tommie Smith’s famous silent gesture at the 1968 Olympics. Protests at stores around the country are planned.
And we discussed much, much more.
What does this mean for busy socialists?
- Join PSC and get the regular national updates. Contact your local branch, get on their mailing list, and support actions when you can.
- All the major trades unions are affiliated to PSC. Could your branch affiliate locally?
- Organise a delegation to the National Day of Action, March 30th, on the 1st anniversary of the start of the Great Return March. There will be a series of coordiated events in London and across the country.
- 11th May will see a National demonstration in London to mark Nakba day.
- Keep yourself informed and visit Palestine if you can.
- But, mostly, keep talking about Palestine.
More next month...
More articles from this author
- Dump Trump: Protest the State Visit, June 3/4/5 - Counterfire freesheet May 2019
- Why we're marching for Palestine on 11 May
- Rebels for life: next steps for the climate justice movement
- Counterfire statement on UCU election for general secretary
- Bernie Sanders 2020: what difference can he make this time?
- Creggan and the death of Lyra McKee
- Extinction Rebellion: a movement recharged