The date: 29/06/2008
The Location: Route masters in London
Saturday Sunday saw the Zionists ‘saluting Israel’ in the middle of London’s popular Trafalgar square, as well as a mass mobilisation of anti-Zionists in the UK condemning this glamorisation of ethnic cleansing. There were several events, the Jews for Justice for Palestine (JFJP) held a silent vigil near the square, holding up the names of the Palestinians villages cleansed of its native inhabitants. PSC, BMI, Palestine Forum, Neturei Karta and various other groups also held a rally next to the square. Some activists even managed to get red dye into the large fountains, resulting in them being switched off. I shall leave it up to those who attended these rallies to review them, and a list of articles on this event appears at the bottom of this blog entry.
The Palestine forum, along with the PSC, Palestine Twinning Network, the NUS-BSC, Action Palestine, Friends of Alqsa and FOSIS pooled together to rent three route master buses for the day. They decked them out in massive banners (see photos), and filled them up with protesters, yours truly included. We set off from Russell square at noon and did a tour of London. One of the buses had an open top deck, and the vast majority of people were on this one. Armed with speaker phones and alot of zeal we took off to deliver the Palestinian message to the weekender’s in London. We were met with alot of puzzled looks, got thumbs up, supportive honks, scowls and the classic British two finger salute (read: up yours).
We got off at one point to watch dabke performed by children from Gaza, on a tour of the UK who did a tremendous job, and we picked up members of Neturie Karta. For those of you who have never heard of this organisation they are orthodox Jews who are anti-Zionist, and demand that all of Palestine be returned to Palestinian sovereignty.
They even go so far as to say that ‘the issue of whether the jews [immigrants] should remain is a question that should be left up to the Palestinians to decide’, from what I can gather their opposition is based on theological grounds. One thing about this group that stands out when you meet them, is their decorum, for they are among the most dignified people I have ever come across. We did receive alot of two finger salutes, crass remarks such as ‘go live in the gutter’, and some of the leafleters were physically harassed by having the leaflets torn from their hands, but this was nothing compared to the abuse the Zionists levied against these peaceful men. One of the comments I heard was a man scream at them that they would ‘burn in hell’, the site of Orthodox Jewish men sitting alongside girls and boys bedecked in traditional Palestinian gear must have been too powerful a message of un-anti-semitism for this bigot to handle.
Things really heated up when we approached Trafalgar square, all I could see was a sea of Israeli flags. The square was packed with people! I was sad to see that more turned up to this than turned up to the last Palestine rally held last May. I may be wrong in my estimation of the number of people that turned up, since one of the women with me on the bus said she had expected more to turn up! Still, we had people scream at us, swear at us, make rude gestures and what not. Bizarre really since I would expect supporters of one the worlds most powerful and influential regimes to smile smugly at the motley crew who turned up to rain on their parade, but they seemed genuinely intimidated! It certainly restored my faith in protests!
We lost a large chunk of what I will refer to as bus protesters, who decided to join the rally at the square. The rest of us convened on the open deck bus to circle the square a few more times, shouting slogans, and trying to explain to people the shamefulness of such a celebration. We managed another two laps of the square before we had to leave at the request of the police, the reason being that the celebrations were about to end and they didnt want to have to deal with our bus amidst a sea of Zionists.
All in all though I would say it was one of the most successful protests I have ever been on, we were able to reach alot more people than we would had we been on a standard march, and we certainly did not incur the wrath of the average pedestrian or motorist as we usually do due to roads being closed to accommodate the march. I certainly think the organisers deserve a big hand for their creative and effective action.