Why protests are a good idea
Trump has recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Gone is the façade of even handedness. This year is the fifty-year anniversary of the 1967 war. The pattern of Israeli land theft and expansion and lack of action by world leaders to prevent it is clear to all who would look. Trump’s action is different. He is rewarding Israel’s land thefts and its creation of a new Apartheid in occupied Palestine. There is not even the fig leaf of impartiality. So we protested.
We do not expect Trump to learn of the protests across the world and finally find a moral compass. We do not expect Theresa May to retract her statement that Israel “is a beacon of tolerance” and overthrow decades of UK Governments accepting Israeli racism and oppression of Palestinians (although that would be nice). No, demonstrations serve a different purpose.
In the runup to the demonstration we mobilised. Put adverts on social media and in the press (where possible). Our supporters will have spoken about it to a network of relatives, friends, neighbours and workmates.
On the day of the demonstration we gave out hundreds of leaflets explaining why Israel is creating Palestinian ghettoes in their own homeland and what we need to do about it.
It reinforced the idea that Israel is an Apartheid state and that we have a largish number of people prepared to put time and effort seeking justice for Palestinians and a great many more who could not come to the protest at such short notice but stand with us. All these people who were there on Saturday, or who wished they were there will, be encouraged to talk to their friends, neighbours and workmates about the issue.
Of those hundreds, perhaps someone will have a birthday and rather than asking for presents ask for donations to our children’s projects. Perhaps a few people at one of the hospitals will get together to twin with a hospital in Gaza. Perhaps a few people will get together to help with fund raising for our wellbeing (trauma) centre in Gaza. Perhaps a few people will start organising to oppose Trump’s visit in February. Perhaps a few more people will join our monthly protest actions outside shops and banks that profit from Israeli Apartheid. The idea that we should boycott Israeli products will grow. Investors and fund managers will find it easier to argue for disinvesting in Israel. The political argument that sanctions need to be applied to Israel for its illegal practices will also grow.
There is a huge amount that needs doing. Every bit that we do will convince others. The facts are clear Israel is a settler colonial state. It is takes Palestinian land because it is powerful enough to do so. It will continue stealing Palestinian water because, supported by the Western powers, it is powerful enough to do so It will continue on its path until it meets resistance. We believe that the best form of resistance is boycott, disinvestment and sanctions. If each of us does a little, we can build a movement that puts pressure on Israel and forces our leaders to act or be replaced.
Today very few people will publicly defend South African Apartheid. Not even the Tories who for decades supported the white minority regime. An international movement was built that helped end Apartheid in South Africa.
We are building a movement that can help end Israeli Apartheid. Every little bit of solidarity that each of us can weave into our everyday lives helps bring forward the day when we have justice for the Palestinians.
Why protests are a good idea