The demand for change is growing
Anger at Israeli attacks on the Palestinians is reaching boiling point. On Saturday 1,000 people protested at the Israeli embassy in London, jostling with the police to occupy the road and bring busy High Street Kensington to a standstill. The immediate issue was the partial closure of the symbolic Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem by the Israeli authorities and the introduction of metal detectors at the entrances. Restrictions on access to the mosque have been increasing for months, but the new plans make access to the Mosque virtually impossible, breaking UN brokered agreements and flouting freedom of worship. They are designed to humiliate and provoke the Palestinians.
This attack coincides with an increase in illegal settlements on the West Bank and a murderous blockade on the Gaza strip where life is more desperate than ever. Electricity is currently available for just three hours a day, creating a life threatening situation for the population. As speaker after speaker pointed out, not only is there a virtual news blackout on these attacks, but British and US support for Israel remains as solid as ever.
I have been on a lot of protests outside the Israeli embassy but I can't remember a greater sense of outrage. At this protest called at the last minute by Palestine Forum of Briatian and Friends oF Aqsa, and supported by Stop the War Palestine Solidarity, the Muslim Association of Britain and others, the chanting was relentless, the speeches were inflected with anger and the mood was militant.
This protest follows the brilliant PalExpo which drew 15,000 people to the QE2 centre for two days of discussion, debate and strategising two weeks ago. The movement in support of the Palestines is on the rise again. On the 100 anniversary of the disgraceful Balfour Declaration and in the run up to the 70th anniversary of the Israeli occupation, all the campaigning organisations are working together on a major national demonstration on November 4 in London. With UK foreign policy under increased scrutiny and demands for change growing, we have the chance to make this into a game changing mobilisation.
Chris Nineham is a founder member of Stop the War and Counterfire, speaking regularly around the country on behalf of both. He is author of The People Versus Tony Blair and Capitalism and Class Consciousness: the ideas of Georg Lukacs.
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