London/ 3/6/2021 – Report by Roddy Keenan – PNN UK Correspondent
Over 100 people attended a demonstration in Harrow, West London, this evening (Wednesday), outside the office of British Conservative Party member of parliament for Harrow East, Bob Blackman. The event was called by the Harrow and Brent branch of the UK Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and Harrow Trades council, a group of local trade union activists.
Last week, Blackman had responded to a constituent’s letter regarding recent events in Sheikh Jarrah by dismissing the rights of the Palestinian families, before going on to defend the barbaric bombing campaign in Gaza as being consistent with Israel’s ‘duty to defend its citizens against terrorist attacks, as well as taking measures in order to deter such acts taking place.’
Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Israel, Blackman has a long history of Islamophobic comments, ranging from tweeting material from far-right groups to welcoming the Indian politician Tapan Ghosh, an anti-Islamic campaigner from India to a House of Commons event in October 2017.
Blackman’s response engendered such outrage that local activists called for a protest outside his office on Wednesday evening.
On the day of the demonstration, Blackman published a tweet decrying the actions of the protesters and insisting that he would continue to ‘stand alongside the Jewish community, while also reasserting that his support for Israel was ‘unwavering’. Unable to defend the brutality of Israeli Occupation Forces, Blackman transparently tried to inoculate the regime against these charges of lawlessness, with the dishonest but unoriginal technique of conflating any criticism of Israel with antisemitism.
However, Paul Crimmins of the Harrow Trades Council met Blackman’s accusation head-on.
‘I was fighting the British National Party (a far-right, neo-nazi UK political party) and fascists years ago,’ he responded, ‘so I won’t take lessons on racism from some tinpot Tory member of Parliament.’
Similarly, the PSC Harrow Lead, Mizanur Rahman asserted that ‘it is not anti-semitic to stand up for the rights of the Palestinian People.’ He added that Blackman’s words had served to render as invisible the brutality being experienced by the Palestinian people and merely served to legitimise ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and the settler-colonial occupation of the Palestinian peoples’ homeland.
The ongoing events in Sheikh Jarrah were referred to by another speaker, Mohammad, a worker with the British National Health Service. Identifying the illegal evictions as just one more example of the dehumanisation of Palestinians, Mohammad also pointed to the failure of ‘billionaire Arab governments’, who was not only oblivious to the plight of Palestinians but were in the process of forging stronger relations with the Israeli apartheid state.
The trauma faced by those bearing the brunt of the destructive air-raids night after night in Gaza was highlighted by Trades Council and PSC activist Aghileh Djafari Marbini. Calling on the public to rally together to fight for an end to the injustice, oppression, and terror that the Palestinian community has been forced to suffer in the past, Aghileh argued that they could succeed if they stood together in unity.
‘We must do our part by calling for peace and an end to occupation and siege, by centring Palestinian human rights and the right of return,‘ she proclaimed. ‘And you can do your part by demanding your representatives push for an end to arms sales, and by using economic boycotts and sanctions, as happened in apartheid, South Africa.’
Meanwhile, members of the Hasidic Jewish community travelled across London to show their solidarity, and also to remind those present that anti-Zionism is not antisemitism.
The turnout at the protest was astonishing, bearing in mind that it was called at short notice and had limited publicity. But even more inspirational was the support offered by passers-by. The protest took place on the side of the main road, and on many occasions, speakers were unable to be heard due to the beeping of car horns expressing support and solidarity with the Palestinian people.
But, aside from what was witnessed in West London this evening, it is increasingly evident from recent mass events in towns, cities and capitals across the world, that people are now beginning to see through the Israeli Occupation regime’s lies, deception and propaganda, all of which have been willingly disseminated by a complicit and servile media in the west.
The world is waking up to the plight of the Palestinian people, to their ongoing oppression, and to the daily brutality being meted out by the Israeli Occupation Forces.
The tide seems to be turning. But we are still not there yet.
Yet the scenes of millions marching around the world in support of their Palestinian brothers and sisters can only provide us with hope that the struggle against the Israeli apartheid regime is entering a crucial phase.
In light of these events, Paul Crimmins’ ringing declaration at the end of the Harrow protest, served as a battle cry to everyone who believes in justice for the Palestinian people.
‘This is not the end,’ he declared to huge applause.‘This is just the beginning.’