Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/561/6733
Thousands protest against the Israeli onslaught
IN MANY cities throughout the country, last weekend, thousands of people attended demonstrations and vigils against the Israeli onslaught on Gaza. Socialist Party branches mobilised members and supporters to participate in the protests, distributing leaflets condemning the airstrikes and putting forward a socialist programme of mass workers' struggle to end the bloodshed.
Organisers said that 50,000 people marched from Embankment to Trafalgar Square in central London last Saturday. The huge turnout at very short notice showed the strength of feeling over the plight of Palestinians in Gaza, subject to relentless air assaults by the Israeli Defence Force. Many - including Asian and Arab youth, joined by young white and black people - were attending their first ever demonstration.
All the Socialist Party leaflets were snapped up by demonstrators eager to read what we had to say about the current crisis in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Likewise, Socialist Party stalls became areas of lively discussion over whether a socialist political solution is possible.
At the following day's 500-strong protest vigil outside the Israeli embassy, Socialist Party members were the only socialist organisation distributing leaflets. In addition, around 70 copies of The Socialist were sold.
3,000 marched through Manchester on 3 January. This was a significant demonstration, second only in size to the London one, and much larger than a number of recent anti-war demos in the city.
Many left activists attended, along with hundreds of older Asian and Arab community members and black and Asian youth, including many young Muslim women, outraged by the latest atrocities of imperialism.
Socialist Party members ran a busy stall where we discussed with dozens of young people. Many copies of The Socialist were bought and we gave out hundreds of leaflets. Several young people filled out 'join cards' for Socialist Students or the Socialist Party.
Over 150 people assembled outside Coventry's Council House on the evening of 5 January to protest at Israel's bombardment and invasion of Gaza.
The protest had been built over the previous 24 hours by young members of Coventry's Socialist Party, and an independent Facebook group.
The crowd heard speakers from the local organisers, socialist councillors Rob Windsor and Dave Nellist and from the Coventry Muslim Centre, Unison, Stop the War Coalition, and the Green Party.
The demonstration heard a particularly poignant contribution from Manal Timraz of Habibi restaurant in Far Gosford Street who has lost several members of her family in the conflict.
The crowd pledged a message of support to anti-war protesters inside Israel itself, 10,000 of whom had marched, Jews and Palestinians together, through Tel Aviv on 3 January.
Around 200 people attended a demo in Swansea, with everyone getting the Socialist Party leaflet. Socialist Party member and Unite convenor Rob Williams spoke at the demo and Socialist Party public meetings have been organised in Swansea and Cardiff this week. Also, a mid-week demo of 300 took place in Cardiff where Socialist Party member Ross Saunders spoke.
Hundreds of people marched through the city centre to a rally at St. George's Hall, Liverpool, against the Israeli attacks. The demonstration followed several candlelit vigils held in the city centre earlier in the week in remembrance of murdered Palestinians.
Organisers of the Sheffield demo said 1,500 attended. Socialist Party members ran out of leaflets. Many signed our petition and expressed an interest in a Socialist Party public meeting. Demos also took place in Leeds, Bradford and York.
For international reports of protests including from inside Israel see www.socialistworld.net
In The Socialist 7 January 2009:
Socialist Party Marxist analysis
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party campaigns
Celebrity Big Brother
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Environment and socialism