- Created: Friday, 18 May 2018 09:30
- Written by Dominic Mulgrew
The RCG in Scotland took to the streets on Nakba day (15 May) to protest against the brutal Israeli massacre of 62 Palestinians in Gaza. RCG comrades supported a protest called by the Palestine Alliance in Edinburgh, and another by Stop the War campaign (StW) in Glasgow that evening. Despite the widespread anger against Israel, and the clear urgency of taking a strong message in support of Palestine to the streets, at the Glasgow protest comrades were faced with sectarianism, threats and insults from the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) who had previously allowed Zionists from the Confederation of the Friends of Israel Scotland (CoFIS) to march on the Stand Up to Racism (SUTR) march on 17 March (see: SWP defends Zionists).
The protest in Edinburgh included campaigners from the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Edinburgh Action for Palestine as well as independent supporters of Palestine. RCG supporters stood together with dozens of other campaigners, helping to distribute leaflets, lead chants and give speeches.
This openness and unity was not to be followed in Glasgow as the SWP - who are heavily represented in the leadership of StW - were determined to once again police solidarity with Palestine. During the short and tightly controlled speeches an RCG speaker asked to be put on the speakers list. This was ignored and waved off. One of the Glasgow’s SWP bullies Kier McKechnie made eye contact with a young RCG comrade and drew his finger across his throat saying to her, ‘No way’. After we insisted on our right to also address the protest Glasgow SWP organiser Angela McCormack, who was chairing the protest, and RISE/Radical Independence Campaign speaker Jonathon Shafi promised the RCG speaker they could speak later. After some chanting, during which another RCG comrade had the megaphone pulled out of her hand for attempting to allow the RCG to use it, Angela McCormack called an end to the protest. They did not fulfil the promise that the RCG would get to speak.
At this point the RCG comrade sparked up our own megaphone to challenge this censorship of RCG politics. We argued that everyone should have the right to show their solidarity with Palestine and that democracy with open speaking platforms and militancy was essential if an effective movement was to be built; yes we could have political disagreements but we must also have unity in the interests of the wider movement. Only with this unity and militancy could we have any chance of challenging British imperialist support for the racist occupation of Palestine and massacre of unarmed Palestinians.
During this speech the RCG speaker was showered with verbal abuse by SWP members and a young female comrade was physically threatened. For those confused by this division in the protest the RCG speaker had to remind everyone that these same characters, who were now trying to attack us, had only two months ago accepted the Zionist group CoFIS onto their SUTR march. The SWP did this in order to protect their links with the British Labour Party, who feared further accusations of anti-Semitism if they told CoFIS they were not welcome. The RCG had mobilised with other grassroots forces to successfully prevent CoFIS’ participation in the SUTR march using direct action.
In his desperation to discredit and isolate the RCG from the angry, democratic, militant, grassroots people who were standing with us, McKechnie began spreading outright lies around the protest that RCG comrades had phoned up his workplace to make death threats against him! It was clear for all to see who was making the threats. Members of the public joined the protest and stood with us against the SWP’s rotten abuse, slander and intimidation.
As events in Glasgow over the last two months have shown, a new democratic, militant and grassroots movement in support of Palestine has to be built! Those who place their alliance with the Labour Party and the official trade union movement ahead of the interests of the Palestinian movement are a deadweight on any movement. They cannot be allowed to dictate the terms or politics of protest any longer. The tactics of intimidation, bullying and smears to police Palestinian solidarity are completely unacceptable and must be called out wherever they are used.
While the official left refuses to build effective opposition to British imperialist support for Zionism; racist Friends of Israel groups across Britain, supported by the pro-imperialism of all of Britain’s mainstream political parties including Labour, are weekly harassing Palestine stalls and smearing campaigners as anti-Semites. Glasgow Friends of Israel hold a weekly stall in Glasgow city centre, sending their activists and supporters to harass and attack Palestine stalls, without any organised street opposition. Their presence threatens us all and must be confronted.
We must struggle for the building of a movement which is willing and able to challenge British imperialist support for Zionism. Democracy and militancy are at the heart of this.
Join us this Saturday 19 May in Glasgow for the Palestine Alliance protest, 11.30 – 14.00, at the Buchanan Street Steps
British imperialism out of the Middle East and North Africa!