STOP STARVING PALESTINIANS
THOUSANDS of Palestinian supporters demonstrated outside parliament on Saturday 20th May which ended with a rally in Trafalgar Square where speakers protested in solidarity against the EU’s sanction on the Palestinian people.
Despite the appalling weather, speakers from various organisations spoke in Trafalgar Square to support the Palestinians’ right to elect a government of their choice and live peacefully without impediments. “Although it is raining here, at least it is not raining shells, bombs and bullets, a daily plight the Palestinians face” said Anas Altikriti from the British Muslim Initiative.
Among the speakers, Irene Bruegel from the Jews for Justice for Palestine expressed her utter oppostion of the occupation which has created a humanitarian crisis. “We are appalled by the US and EU for refusing funds to the Palestinian people. These double standards have re-doubled themselves. We’ve been told that to boycott Israeli goods is anti-Semitic, but what about sanctioning the Palestinians? Occupation creates a cycle of violence; there can be no peace this way. The sanction will create resistance, not compliance. We stand with Palestinians not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it is the only way forward” she said.
Ismail Patel from Friends of Al-Aqsa spoke of proactively opposing the sanction by boycotting Israeli goods. “Stopping aid to reach the Palestinians is an intolerable situation; we must fight to free Palestine. It’s time to be active, coming out to the streets every six months is not good enough” he emotionally declared. “We are not against the Jewish or their religion,” he expressed, “we are against this regime, and all religions should join in to stop it.”
In a dramatic speech Dr. Azzam Tamimi, Director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought in London, exclaimed: “In the true Bible it says peace, not genocide; tomorrow Palestine will be free and the true Jews will live with the Palestinians in peace.”
Lindsey German from Stop the War Coalition spoke of her disgust. “Palestinians are used as pawns in US and UK international games. They told the Palestinians to elect a government, but as long as it is on their terms.”
Ms. Gail, a speaker from the National Union of Teachers said she gives her full support to the Palestinians, “We are going to review our investments to refuse contracts with companies that support Israel, such as Caterpillar” she said.
Among the organisations that arranged the demonstration was the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and Betty Hunter, General Secretary, was there to urge the crowds to help the Palestinians. “Visit our website to sign the petition to end the oppression and occupation. On the 24th of June there will be a national boycott against Israeli goods, please take part.”
Dr. Essam Yusuf from Interpal emphasised the need to donate money to the Palestinian people to help them through their predicament. “Mr. Bush told the Palestinians to elect a new leadership. The Palestinians listened and obeyed and elected Hamas, it is our choice. Mr. Blair, you can buy our olive oil, but you can’t buy our choice. Please support the Palestinians, send them a text message of support, text PAL to 84858 and donate £3” he urged the crowds who enthusiastically took out their mobile phones.
In another dramatic speech Dr. Dawud Abdullah from the Muslim Council of Britain powerfully declared, “The day will come when they will talk to Hamas, just as the UK talked to Sein Fein. We will be the voice of the Palestinian people. Let it be known that the criminal boycott will not break their will or their dignity; these two things are not for sale. The boycott will fail.”
Lauren Booze, a relative of Tony Blair, who is against the occupation, spoke of her visit to Bethlehem, “I’ve sat with Palestinian children in the rubble and I’ve asked them what they want to be when they grow up. They’ve told me they’d like to be doctors, psychotherapists and scientists. Are they terrorists? No!” she exclaimed.
Lauren then described someone she had met in Bethlehem, Layla, who had attended the demonstration. Layla came to the microphone, expressing her deepest fears, “I’m frightened that my people will be wiped out like the red Indians and Aborigines. The Palestinian issue is solvable but only if we all co-operate with each other. Stand by us to do everything in your power to push the government to change their policies” she pleaded. “Visit Palestine and please keep on fighting.”
Anas Altikriti ended the rally with an emotional speech: “Look to your right at the South African flag and see the symbol of a nation that shares a similar history of the Palestinians. They were called terrorists by the UK but now their flag is raised high and they’re recognised as a state. One day we will see the Palestinian flag raised high, having a state, and treated with respect.”
In a gesture to encourage hope for the future, the rally ended with entertainment. A Palestinian group called Al-Hureayah, freedom in Arabic, danced alongside a song which expressed the love for Palestine with the hope of having freedom and justice return to its people.
During the rally several demonstrators told The Muslim Weekly they thought the demonstration was a success. However for nineteen year old Jannat Salam, the only success she said she would recognise is when justice is brought to the Palestinians. “I, alongside everyone who supports this cause, will work hard to bring peace to Palestine” she told The Muslim Weekly. “These demonstrations only emphasise what still really needs to be accomplished. The Palestinians shouldn’t be forgotten once we all return to our homes while they continue to suffer. We need to work hard to bring freedom and justice to this troubled land, and with God’s help, we will be successful” she avowed.