Over the weekend, I attended my very first protest. You often read about movements that took place in history such as the Suffragettes, Gandhi’s Salt March and even marches in recent years to stop the war in Iraq. However in this day and age, where technology and life is moving at such a fast pace, it’s possible that many of us never give two thoughts to attending a protest and probably never will in our lifetime.
Having never been too consumed with politics, all of that changed when word recently broke about the rounds of fighting and subsequent mass murders of Palestinians by Israeli forces. The number of international laws being broken and human rights being violated is enough for anyone to sit up and question why no action is being taken. Delve a bit deeper and you come to understand a very temperamental history between two groups of people.
After realising that the BBC and other major news sources haven’t been entirely fair in their reporting of the massacre, a protest was bound to happen to show solidarity for the scores of Palestinians being killed in Gaza. Social media has been bursting with individuals wanting to do something to help and show support. Our chance came last Saturday where a national demonstration against Israel’s actions took place in Central London. An estimated 15,000 people descended on the Israeli embassy after meeting at Downing Street armed with flags, signs and posters, which demonstrated their dismay at the targeted attacks on civilians in Gaza.
The general atmosphere was one of unity as chants and applause erupted as speakers took to the mic to speak about the horrors currently being endured around Palestine. Heavily policed, no fights or heated arguments escalated out of control and a real mixture of people from all walks of life and backgrounds attended, which made this protest all the more worth attending.
On social media there have been waves of pro-Israeli supporters branding people attending these protests as being anti-Semitic, terrorists and much more. You can’t help but wonder if this applies to the number of Orthodox Jews that were in attendance too… *Food for thought*
Along with the bad, social media also revealed the good in humanity, showcasing images from around the world of people protesting for the same cause. From Washington DC, to the streets of Paris where the French government have banned Pro-Palestinian protests, people turned out in their thousands to oppose the cruel attack on innocent civilians by the Israeli government.
At the time of writing this, it is worth pointing out that there have been concerns of growing anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish people, local businesses and places of worship in Europe. Let me make it clear that this is in no way acceptable. Not every single person of Jewish descent agrees with Netanyahu’s slaughter of innocent individuals, nor do they support Israel’s deplorable actions. And even if they do, we shouldn’t be threatening to kill them.
Countering violence with more violence and invoking fear into people is not the way to handle this precarious situation as outsiders. What should be done is show the international community – especially Israel and those in Gaza – that we’re a united group who do not condone the slaughter of innocent civilians.
Of course there will be individuals who use this as an opportunity to spew utter hatred – even Israeli politicians are slowly giving the rest of the world a glimpse into the mindset of their government. Israeli lawmaker Ayelet Shaked said on her Facebook:
“They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”
With this kind of thought process, it’s so important not to fall into that trap of tit for tat, which is essentially what has Israel and Palestine locked in this bitter feud.
Another protest is set for this Saturday (26th July) in London starting at the Israeli embassy at midday and for a march and rally from 2.30pm in Parliament Square. More details can be found on Palestine Solidarity Campaign UK’s Facebook page here.
If there was ever a chance to protest for a worthy cause – this is it.