Hundreds of human rights campaigners from across the UK took part in The Big Ride for Palestine 2021, an annual event combining a love of cycling with passion and solidarity with the Palestinian people. They rode from Bristol to London over the course of 4 days, starting on July 29th and ending today, on August 1st.
The ride ended in Mile End Park following events in 2019 where Tower Hamlets Council rejected that year’s application from The Big Ride for Palestine to hold their event in the council-run park.
A freedom of information request undertaken by PSC revealed that this decision followed in the aftermath of council officials raising concerns that references on The Big Ride’s website to Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and to the existence of laws and policies that meet the definition of apartheid might violate the IHRA definition of antisemitism.
Following a petition to the council and significant local protest, the council made clear that it did not regard the event as problematic in any way and would allow it to finish in a council run park in subsequent years.
Following the ground-breaking TUC resolution in 2020, as well as reports by Human Rights Watch, the UN and Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem all describing Israel’s systematic oppression of the Palestinian people as amounting to the crime of apartheid, The Big Ride have put this issue at the centre of its campaign this year.
The money raised in the initiative this year will go towards assisting the Middle East Children’s Alliance’s creation of a recreational park in Rafah. The aim of this is to foster a safe space for children traumatised by Israel’s bombing of the Gaza Strip and the illegal blockade of the densely overpopulated strip of land.
The event was supported by a number of campaigning organisations including Palestine Solidarity Campaign, War on Want, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and Campaign Against Arms Trade. It has also been endorsed by Ambassador Husam Zomlot, Head of Palestinian Mission to the UK.
Ben Jamal, Director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign said: “The Big Ride is a wonderful initiative that combines a love of cycling with raising awareness of the oppression of the Palestinian people. PSC is proud to be a supporter and we encourage anyone who is able to get involved this year. We are delighted that the council has welcomed this wonderful event into the Borough in 2021 ”
Owen Cooper, an organiser of The Big Ride said: “Participating in The Big Ride enables a whole range of conversations to take place with friends, family and our wider community. This year, we are focusing on the increasing number of international bodies rightly shifting to the use of the word apartheid to describe Israel’s regime of oppression against the Palestinian people and its systematic discrimination against them simply for being Palestinian.”