- Created: Friday, 03 August 2018 15:31
- Written by Newcastle Branch
On Saturday 28 July, following the latest Israeli airstrikes on besieged Gaza, supporters of FRFI* were on the streets in Newcastle, protesting British support for Israel with a picket of Marks & Spencer – Britain’s largest corporate sponsor of the Zionist state.
The protest took place at the same time as Newcastle’s Labour-controlled city council is seeking to deter solidarity with the Palestinian people. Moves are afoot inside the council to adopt an official definition of anti-Semitism which has nothing to do with anti-racism and everything to do with defending the colonisation of Palestine. Among its catechisms is the assertion that those who ‘[claim] the existence of the Israeli state is a racist endeavour’ – which it is – ‘[deny] the Jewish people their right to self-determination’.
FRFI supporters in Newcastle have been quick to respond with the launch of a public petition opposing this base assault on solidarity with Palestine – on the freedom to express support for the national rights of the Palestinian people. FRFI intend to present the petition at the next full council assembly in September and take the opportunity to denounce those who exploit anti-Semitism to justify their support for the settler colonial state of Israel.
(You can sign and share the online version of the petition here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/don-t-criminalise-solidarity-with-palestine-in-newcastle)
On the day of the protest, more than a hundred people put their name to the petition. This in spite of violent harassment of picketers by pro-Zionist elements, the city’s ‘Street Rangers’ (!) and Northumbria Police. Harassment which included the Palestinian flag – a banner of resistance to the oppressed everywhere – being thrown to the ground by police officers in an act of utter disrespect to those Palestinians who stood in defence of the protest. Those present stood their ground and did so with the support of passers-by who identified with a common experience of police harassment and with the struggle of the Palestinian people. (Watch the video here: https://youtu.be/l26haj80LwE . Note that when the speaker says 'Zionism is not anti-Semitism', he meant to say 'Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism').
Our refusal to be cowed by police aggression was clearly too much for some of Palestine’s ‘supporters’ who – rather than defend the right to protest – preferred to protest our ‘alienating methods’! Of course, neither the state nor its local apologists will deter genuine socialists from the urgent task of building an anti-racist movement in solidarity with the Palestinian people. We are organising further events and encourage all supporters of Palestinian liberation to join us.
*Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (FRFI) is the name of our newspaper. You can subscribe here: http://www.revolutionarycommunist.org/our-paper/subscribe