Thursday, 12 April 2018

Time to tell Israel enough is enough - Support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions

Here is my speech for the protest in Aberdeen on 7th April to condemn the shootings of unarmend Palestinians by the Israeli Defence Forces. 

That very day the news broke about the killing of photo journalist Yusef Murtaja despite wearing a PRESS vest. Yet our government still sells arms to Israel and refuses to condemn this outrage.

"So here we are again 

Gathered together in Aberdeen to condemn once again the horrific actions of the Israeli government against the people of Palestine
And sending a message of support and solidarity to the people of Gaza

Here’s what you need to know about the shooting of unarmed Palestinians protesting in Gaza
These are not clashes
Clashes are incidents that take place between equals

Clashes are what you see in Parliament, when Jeremy Corbyn takes on Theresa May or the SNP and Labour disagree on levels of taxation
What we are seeing in Gaza just now is a massacre – pure and simple
Soldiers armed with live ammunition are shooting unarmed Palestinians

And let’s make no mistake 
Most are engaged in peaceful protest – you can see that from the video footage on social media
But it doesn’t actually matter if some of those Palestinians are throwing stones or bits of burning rubber
Shooting and killing is a complete over-reaction
It is a tactic designed to terrorise
To put down and control an entire population to make them feel powerless
Men, women and children – trying to tell the world what is going on in Gaza
Killed and maimed by live ammunition
It’s terrorising and it’s terrorism – pure and simple

If this happened anywhere in the Western world there would be an outcry
Look at the independence election in Catalunya
Ordinary civilians prevented from voting by armed police
Not shot, but certainly terrorised
Certainly injured
The West was (rightly) appalled

Where is that same outrage when it comes to the people of Palestine?
Where is the political condemnation from Western countries?
Where is the media coverage of this barbarism

They were happy to spend a week berating Jeremy Corbyn for anti-semitism in the Labour Party
And for going to a Seder with the wrong kind of Jewish people

But Gaza? 
Brief reports of clashes then off the agenda

And it’s not just the killings of the past week
It’s the terrible blockade that has been going on in Gaza for 10 years
The collective punishment of the residents of Gaza by the State of Israel
Nearly 2 million people locked inside a land mass the size of Philadelphia the borders carefully controlled, the movement of goods and people severely restricted;
 As much as 72 percent of the population facing food insecurity; 41 percent unemployed; hospitals forced to rely on generators for life-saving equipment, while supplies of life-saving medicines dwindle to dangerous levels; and the risk that drinking water will run out.
What has been described as not just a humanitarian tragedy but a moral outrage

While the world looks on and does …. What?
Some brave people speak out – including Jewish citizens, some living in Israel which is brave indeed
The UN condemns and calls for action but a UN report last year highlighting that Israel’s oppression and domination of the Palestinian people is apartheid has been sidelined.
And the UN failed to pass a resolution condemning last week’s violence because it was vetoed by the US 
And the media silence  on the events in Gaza with a few honourable exceptions has been deafening 

So once again it’s left to us – ordinary people, trade unionists, citizens with compassion and conscience
To take actions to right these wrongs
Like we did to end apartheid in South Africa
When governments, including our own, refused to act
We need to step up to the mark to support the people in Gaza living under such oppression and misery
We need to tell Israel clearly that enough is enough
That we will not stand by whilst they continue their campaign of terror against the Palestinian people and especially those trapped in Gaza
Standing up and exercising their right to peaceful protest
A right that should be accorded to every citizen
We will lobby politicians, we will sign petitions, we will do all we can to highlight this injustice and we will promote the campaign of BDS at every opportunity
Hitting Israel where it hurts
In their pocket and their international standing

We will call them out for their callous oppression of the Palestinian people every chance that we get
And we will not allow the world to forget the people of Palestine, the children of Palestine, living and growing up under occupation, oppression and terrorism."

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