This afternoon I am marching in London to offer solidarity to Palestinians being murdered in their thousands by Israeli bombs supplied by their western allies. I hope it’s a small comfort to the besieged people of Gaza knowing that tens of thousands in London, huge numbers in Ireland and millions across the world stand with them in their hour of need. We march because we oppose the slaughter of innocents and call on western powers to stop aiding and abetting Israel’s killing machine.
Thanks to a political and media campaign of threats and vitriol it feels like the whole world is now paying attention to the London demonstration. This week the Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Telegraph, the Sun and The Times taking their cue from Suella Braverman ran multiple articles castigating peaceful people set to join the protest as “Hate-Marchers”. British PM Sunak attacked us as “provocative and disrespectful”. His deputy PM Oliver Dowden condemned the demonstration as an “incitement to public disorder”. Speaking on Sky TV he said the Protest is deliberately timed to destroy the “sanctity and solemnity of Remembrance Sunday at the Whitehall Cenotaph.
That the demonstration is on Saturday and not Remembrance Sunday and that the route goes nowhere near the Cenotaph has not deterred calls for the Protest to be banned. When the British government and its media mount a smear campaign it never allows the facts to get in the way of a hatchet job. Coming from West Belfast, I smile wryly as I recall similar depictions of my fellow Nationalists in previous years. How often, we were denounced in the British media as rioters, hate mobs, trouble makers and terrorists when marching for basic rights and equality. Just as it didn’t work in the North, attempts to discredit and besmirch the sea of humanity marching in London today will not work.
All week, Right wing politicians and commentators, normally keen to identify as freedom of speech supporters, have made screeching U-turns calling for the march to be banned. Illiberal and authoritarian rhetoric has oozed from every government press release as it spews bile at peaceful people who dare to speak out against the suffering of Gazans and people in the West Bank. If spineless politicians including the leader of the Opposition will not oppose War Crimes then ordinary people have no choice but to stand up. That is exactly what is happening in London today, in Ireland and across the world. The demand is simple – end the killing of women, children and the elderly.
Empathising publicly with the plight of Palestinians and demanding an end to their bombardment is absolutely the right thing to do even if political opponents dishonestly label us anti-semite or the “Hamas supporting marchers”. That good honest people of all faiths and none are impugned as “Jew Haters” for opposing Israel’s mass bombing of Gazans is a travesty as is Israel’s denial of water, food and electricity to desperate people.
Vilifying protesters for expressing support for the plight of the Palestinians will likely have the opposite effect today as hundreds of thousands take to the streets of London in solidarity with Gaza and the West Bank. A defenseless people trapped in an open prison as bombs rain down on them with no means of protection and abandoned by most world leaders need our support right now. Last night Israel’s army again bombed schools in the day and hospitals in the night – that’s why we are marching.Among the vast crowds here in London will be many hundreds of United Irelanders. Join us if you can as we march in solidarity with our Palestinian brothers and sisters.