Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

Israel Celebrates 60 Years – 2008

Saturday, June 29th, 2024

Israel Celebrates 60 Years: The first liberation movement I was aware of in my toddler years led to independence for Israel in 1948 and like much of the British left I was for some years a supporter of Israel.

Israel Celebrates 60 Years

To be fair our media hadn’t really told us much about what had actually happened in the country, concentrating on the Stern Gangs attacks on British personnel before independence, and we were almost unaware of the Palestinians and the effect of the formation of Israel on them.

Israel Celebrates 60 Years

The UN had adopted a ‘Plan of Partition with Economic Union‘ for Palestine as General Assembly
Resolution 181 (II) in 1947, but the Arabs generally rejected this as being pro-Zionist, giving too much land to the much smaller Jewish population as well as violating the UN’s own principles of national self-determination. Jews in Palestine generally welcomed it but the Zionist leaders saw it as “a stepping stone to future territorial expansion over all of Palestine.

Israel Celebrates 60 Years

A civil war broke out in Palestine after the adoption of the UN mandate and was largely ignored by the British who got on busily preparing for their withdrawal (also contained in the resolution) in May 1948. On 14th May 1948 “the leaders of the Jewish community in Palestine led by the future prime minister David Ben-Gurion, declared the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel.”

Israel Celebrates 60 Years

Arab armies marched in starting the 1948 Arab–Israeli War but were repulsed by the Israel Defense Forces which expanded the borders of Israel beyond those of the UN Plan. And there was further territorial expansion in other wars, particulalry the 1967 Six Day War,

There were extensive celebrations for the 60th Anniversary in Israel from the beginning of May 2008 as well as in other Western cities, with events continuing for some months – such as this London march on June 29th.

As the marchers came into Trafalgar Square they passed people from Israeli Jewish organisation Zochrot founded in 2002 to promote awareness of the Palestinian Nakba, including the 1948 Palestinian expulsion and flight. They held a banner ‘Remembrance – Zochrot‘ and others stood in silence with placards with names of some of the over 400 Palestinian villages were destroyed in the 1947-8 catastrophe.

While I watched, several people left the parade and went across to harangue them and wave Israeli flags in their faces.

There were more protesters that police had moved into a pen by the side of South Africa House. They had come to point out that for Palestinians the sixty years had meant an increasing loss of their land through both military actions and settlements, as well as a loss in liberty.

Later I saw police moving away a group who had lowered a banner reading “60 YEARS OF ETHIC CLEANSING IS NOTHING TO CELEBRATE” over the high wall on the side of the square. They were rapidly surrounded by Jewish security guards, who called the police who told them that unless they moved to the pen on the other side of the road – where their banner could not be seen from the square – they would be arrested. And they moved.

Later other people with Israeli flags came to argue and insult the protesters here and several groups were moved away by police. At one point I moved towards one of my colleagues as one of these men appeared to be about to physically assault him. He then accused the photographer of being a paedophile on the ridiculous basis that some of the other troublemakers in the group were his teenage sons. Eventually police took over and politely asked us to move away while they sorted things out.

As my final paragraph in 2008 I wrote “Of course I met many nice people who were having a good day out, but it is the others who stick in the mind. But I also hope that after 60 years the state of Israel will soon be ready for peace and justice for the Palestinians.” Unfortunatley there is far too little evidence of this among their political leaders 16 years later.

60 Years of Israel


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Palestine, Orange Order, Naked Cyclists & RFH – 2007

Sunday, June 9th, 2024

Palestine, Orange Order, Naked Cyclists & RFH: On Saturday 9th June 2007 I photographed a protest against the occupation of Palestine,the Orange Order celebrating 200 years of parades, the London World Naked Bike Ride and the re-opening of the Royal Festival Hall.

Palestine, Orange Order, Naked Cyclists & RFH

End the occupation – Palestine

Palestine, Orange Order, Naked Cyclists & RFH

The largest of these events was part of an international day of action marking the 40th anniversary of the 1967 six day war which had ended in complete and massive military victory for Israel, and a shameful defeat for not just the Arab nations but also the UN and the rest of the world.

Palestine, Orange Order, Naked Cyclists & RFH

And, as I commented then “in the longer term it is proving a disaster for Israel too, chaining them to a policy of brutal oppression of their Palestinian neighbours.” I continued; “Over the past few months, reading and hearing eye-witness reports of life in the occupied areas have shocked me, just as the reports from South Africa under apartheid did. And just as in South Africa, in time these things must come to an end with peace and reconciliation. War doesn’t settle things, it just prolongs the agonies.”

Palestine, Orange Order, Naked Cyclists & RFH

Seventeen years later we are seeing things that are orders of magnitude more shocking still happening in Gaza, witnessing the genocide of the Palestinian people.

Two members of the Palestinian government who had been invited to speak at the event were unable to come as they in jail in Israel. As usual until recently there was little coverage of this event or Israels apartheid policies in the UK media. Now their is considerable international interest in what is happening in Gaza but reporting is severely hampered as the international press are not allowed access other than in a few very limited Israeli army led tours.

More at End Occupation in Palestine.


Orange Order celebrates 200 Years of Parades – Park Lane

The Grand Lodge 200th Anniversary Parade marked 200 years since the first recorded Orange Parade by the Portadown Lodge of the Orange Order, Loyal Orange Lodge No. 1 (LOL 1), on 1 March 1807.

Although King William III, Prince Of Orange had successfully invaded England in what was later known as the Glorious Revolution in 1688 and the first Orange Association was founded a few days after his landing in Brixham when he reached Exeter, organised parades are only known to have started 119 years later.

This anniversary event was an impressive display with several thousand marching including lodges from all our major cities. The Orange Order still has a strong following in some former protestant working class areas but as I commented, despite “own protestant roots … such sectarian solidarity now seems a relic of ancient enmities, a throwback to a less civilised age.”

Many more pictures at 200 Years of Orange Marches


World Naked Bike Ride, Hyde Park,

I arrived in Hyde Park a little late but was able to photograph the riders setting off on their ride around London and went with them along Piccadilly before taking the tube to wait for them to reach the Houses of Parliament at Westminster.

You can read my thoughts about the ride which I think rather fails to get its message across although causing a great stir on the busy streets it goes through, as few of the riders have anything on their bodies or bikes to state its purpose on My London Diary.

For most who see it, this is simply an unusual spectacle of nudity, and an illustration of the great variety of the human form rather than the very limited body types which we see on advertising hoardings and other images of the fully or partly unclothed om the press or elsewhere.

This was the one event of those I covered that was widely covered in the media, making the national news that evening, though I think there was little attention to why the ride was taking place.

More about it and more pictures at 2007 World Naked BikeRide.


London’s Royal Festival Hall Reopens

The Southbank centre was staging a weekend of events across its site marking the reopening of the Royal Festival Hall after a considerable refurbishment which began in June 2005 and I managed to take a few photographs of these across the day.

The foyers inside the building were opened up more but I think the main purpose was to provide more commercial space to provide an income for the centre. The Royal Festival Hall was built as part of the Festival of Britain in 1951 and was funded and managed by the London County Council and their successors, the Greater London Council until that was abolished by Thatcher in 1988.

The Southbank Centre states on its web site that it “does not receive any funding from the Government to run and maintain its 11-acre national heritage site. All essential repair and maintenance work to our buildings and site has been funded from our own commercial revenues or from fundraising.

More pictures begin at London’s Royal Festival Hall Reopens


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UEFA gets a Red Card for Israel – 2013

Friday, May 24th, 2024

UEFA gets a Red Card for Israel – On Friday 24th May 2013 UK campaigners met those who had arrived by Eurostar at St Pancras to march to the Mayfair hotel where UEFA was holding its annual congress. They demanded it to kick out Israel and protested against the UEFA under-21 men’s football final being held in Israel in June 2013.

UEFA gets a Red Card for Israel

The event was organised by the London-based Red Card Israeli Racism Campaign founded by members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Friends of al-Aqsa and Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods and followed protests at UEFA’s Swiss offices following a letter signed by 52 leading players deploring Israel ’s attacks on Gaza.

UEFA gets a Red Card for Israel

Previously the Red Card campaign had led protests over the detention of Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak detained without charge in 2009 while travelling from Gaza to a new club on the West Bank. He lost almost half his body mass in a 3 month hunger strike and was only finally released in July 2012 after appeals from the international professional footballers association FIFPro, Eric Cantona, Frédéric Kanouté and the presidents of EUFA and FIFA, as well as others from outside football.

UEFA gets a Red Card for Israel

Israel’s participation in international football has long been controversial, and in 1974 they were expelled from the Asian Football Confederation of which they had been a founder member when several nations refused to play against them. They became a full member of UEFA in 1994. In February 2024 UEFA turned down demands from 12 Middle East Nations to suspend Israel from international competitions.

UEFA gets a Red Card for Israel

International football is clearly a political football. And Israel’s team have clearly demonstrated their intention to use it as such when captain Eli Dasa held up a small sports shoe of a missing child hostage and talked about it ahead of a Euro 2024 qualifier against Switzerland.

The Palestinian Football Association called in April on FIFA/UEFA to suspend Israel from international competition and are asking other FAs to join them. FIFA is carrying out a legal assessment before it makes a decision on whether to agree to Palestine’s call to suspend the Israeli federation over the war in Gaza was repeated a few days ago at FIFA’s congress in Bangkok.

PFA president Jibril Rajoub was quoted by the BBC as saying “How much more must the Palestine football family suffer for FIFA to act with the same severity and urgency as it did in other cases?” and others have also accused FIFA and UEFA of double standards.

As a petition by some football fans calling on the English FA to support the suspension of Israel states: “It took FIFA/UEFA less than one week to ban Russia from international competition following the invasion of Ukraine. Apartheid South Africa was suspended from FIFA for ten years before being expelled in 1976 and was only permitted to re-join in 1992 as the apartheid regime was dismantling. In that same year, the Yugoslavia national team was suspended by FIFA from international competition as a part of UN-led sanctions against the former state during the Balkans war.

Palestinian footballer and former hunger striker Mahmoud Sarsak

You can read an account of the May 2013 march and the static protest outside the hotel in Park Lane on My London Diary with many more pictures. One of the speakers at this was former hunger striker Mahmoud Sarsak and he received a huge welcome and “the couple of hundred people present really sounded like a rather larger football crowd.”

UEFA gets a Red Card for Israel.


Don’t hang Prof Bhullar!

Also on Friday 24th May 2013 I photographed a protest by Sikhs at the Indian High Commission against the intended hanging of Professor Devender Pal Singh Bhullar who had then served 18 years on death row following his conviction for involvement in a car bomb in Delhi. His conviction was based on a confession based on torture in police custody. The Indian Supreme Court commuted his sentence to life imprisonment in March 2014. More on My London Dairy at Don’t hang Prof Bhullar!.


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Obama, UoL, Ethiopia, Israel & Ukraine 2014

Thursday, May 23rd, 2024

Obama, UoL, Ethiopia, Israel & Ukraine – Another disparate set of protests ten years ago on Friday 23rd May 2014 had me rushing around London to document them.


Obama keep your promises – Trafalgar Square

Obama, UoL, Ethiopia, Israel & Ukraine

My working day began in Trafalgar Square where the London Guantánamo Campaign and others had come as a part of an international day of action coordinated by the US organisation Witness Against Torture, with protests in 40 cities in three continents calling on President Obama to make good the promise he had again made a year earlier to close Guantánamo.

Obama, UoL, Ethiopia, Israel & Ukraine

The campaigners many dressed in black hoods and orange jumpsuits stood in a long line on the North Terrace holding posters. Some had brought a giant inflatable figure of Shaker Aamer, a London resident, still there, held without charge for 12 years despite having twice been cleared for release.

Obama, UoL, Ethiopia, Israel & Ukraine

As spokesperson for he London Guantánamo Campaign Aisha Maniar stated:
In over five years as US president, Barack Obama has failed to deliver a change we can believe in on Guantánamo Bay. Twelve years of indefinite detention almost wholly without charge or trial for 154 prisoners has made the world an infinitely more insecure, dangerous, and lawless place… Obama’s words remain purely rhetorical. There is little intention to close Guantánamo Bay and the legal black hole it has created.”

Obama keep your promises


Defend University of London Garden Halls workers – Senate House

Obama, UoL, Ethiopia, Israel & Ukraine

At 1pm I was Senate House with members of the Independent Workers of Great Britain, the grass roots trade union to which many low paid workers at the University belong, as well as supporters from the Joint Shop Stewards Network and university students and staff. Both the UoL and the contractors Cofely and Aramark who they have outsourced the workers to refuse to recognise the IWGB, preferring the more compliant traditional unions. But most of the cleaners and others had left these after finding they were unwilling to stand up to the employers on their behalf and joined the IWGB.

London University announced the closure of three of its Central London halls of residence – the Garden Halls – without consultation with the IWGB and intended to make over 80 workers redundant at the end of June.

The IWGB had asked supporters to send letters to London University Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Adrian Smith listing their demands that there should be no compulsory redunddancies and the the length of service of the workers be respected, as well as calling for meaningful consultation withe the IWGB and that workers transferred to other contracts should retain their pay, terms and conditions. They stated “the University bears responsibility for the treatment of these workers, regardless of the fact that their roles are contracted to private companies.”

Around 30 protesters were outside the main entrance to Senate House when I arrived and were drumming a very noisy demonstration while handing out leaflets and displaying banners.

Soon after they were joined by IWGB organiser Alberto Durango they left to walk around the outside of the building. Security had rushed to close the door on Montague Place but when the protesters reached Russell Square the doors to Stewart House, part of the University estate joined to Senate House they found an open door and around half of them walked in to protest noisily inside the building for a few minutes, still beating their drums before finding another exit into the Senate House car park.

Here the protest came to to an end with the IWGB’s usual message, ‘We’ll be back!’. The IWGB was balloting its members for strikes against both Cofely and Aramark.

More at Defend UoL Garden Halls workers.


Oromo and Ogaden against Ethiopian killings

I rushed to Parliament to meet Ethiopians protesting outside Parliament over the Ethiopian government’s killing of Oromo university students peacefully protesting the grabbing of Oromo land. The protest was coming to an end as I arrived but I was able to quickly take a few pictures

The protest was by supporters of the Oromo and Ogaden National Liberation Fronts founded shortly before the fall of Emperor Haile Selassie. Since then the military government, the Derg regime and the new Ethiopian state has continued the suppression of the Oromo, and initiated mass resettlements from Northern Ethiopia onto Oromo lands and moved millions of Oromo into camps run by the military.

The USA was found by BBC Newsnight and and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism exposed in 2011 to have worked with the the Ethiopian government in an alliance “using billions of dollars of development aid as a tool for political oppression” with programmes of deliberate starvation of communities, and “of mass detentions, (and) the widespread use of torture and extra-judicial killings” against what they describe as terrorism.

In early May there had been mass killing by the authourites of Oroam University students and civiliams protesting peacefully against illegal forcible evictions of Oromo farmers from their ancestral lands around Addis Ababa under the governments Addis Ababa Integrated Master Plan which will give their land to government supporters or sell it to foreign investors.

Oromo and Ogaden against Ethiopian killings


Support Hunger Strike in Israeli Jails – G4S Victoria Street

It was a short walk to the London HQ of G4S where campaigners supported by the Islamic Human Rights Commission were protesting in solidarity with the mass hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails demanding an end to Israels’s illegal policy of rolling Administrative Detention which can jail them for years without charge or trial.

The put up a stall and banners on the wide pavement outside the building and spoke to people passing, handing out leaflets. Some stopped to talk and mostly expressed surprise at what was happening in Israel, although one man stopped to argue, telling the protesters that no one was held unjustly in prison in Israel and there was no torture in Israel. He was clearly deluded.

The world’s largest security firm G4S provided security services for Israel’s prisons until December 2016 when pressure from this and many other protests led it to sell is Israeli subsidiary divesting from Israel’s military checkpoints and illegal settlements. After further protests the company to sell its decided to sell its remaining business in apartheid Israel in June 2023.

Support Hunger Strike in Israeli Jails


Solidarity with Ukrainian Miners – Holborn

Finally I joined Ukrainian Socialist Solidarity and IWGB trade unionists who protested outside the registered offices of London mining company Evraz who own mines in the city of Kryviy Rih in south-east Ukraine.

Kryviy Rih is the centre of the largest steel industry in Eastern Europe an has a population of around three-quarters of a million people. Miners there have protested as the unrest and devaluation in Ukraine has caused a rapid rise in the cost of living with a fall in real wages of around 30-50% and a rise of 20% they had been promised in April was not paid. In its place they were given an small “insulting” one-off handout.

The Independent Union of Miners of Ukraine has demanded an immediate doubling of the real wage “in the interests of preserving social peace in this country.” They say the main cause of the economic problems in Ukraine “is the greed of Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs, who pay a beggar’s wage to workers, send all their profits off-shore and don’t pay taxes in Ukraine. In fact the oligarchs are almost completely exempt from taxes on their profits.” Evraz is owned by Russian Oligarchs Roman Abramov and Alexander Abramovitch who are based in the UK.

The protest took place after the Ukrainian union called upon the British public to picket the offices of EVRAZ plc and the offices of other Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs’ corporations in London and other cities in Europe.

But police attending the protest told the protesters these offices are cimply those of a firm providing accounting, tax, Human Resources and payroll services to various businesses and are not really a part of Evraz. Further protests were planned outside the Chelsea Football ground, also owned by Roman Abramovitch and for an EVRAZ Investor Day the following month which company chair Alexander Abramov is due to attend.

Solidarity with Ukrainian Miners


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Free Palestine March & Rally 2005

Tuesday, May 21st, 2024

Free Palestine March & Rally – May 21st 2005. George Galloway, then MP for Bethnal Green, was clearly the man of the hour at the rally in Trafalgar Square, fresh back from his hearing in front of a US Senate committee. As I commented in 2005, “the senators were clearly outclassed and outgunned as Galloway gave them a verbal ‘Glasgow kiss.’ It was an impressively sustained performance of concentrated power, a pit-bull seeing off a pack of ineffectual spaniels.”

Free Palestine March & Rally

The crowd gave him “a tumultous ovation when he arrived at the Trafalgar Square rally” at the end of the march, and his speech there did not diappoint them. I commented “he has built up a great rapport with the many muslims now living in this country, not least in his own Bethnal Green constituency, the youths from Bradford were excited when he promised to come and visit their city.” Of course many things have happened since then, but it wasn’t surprising to see him elected for Bradford West at the 2012 by-election or more recently when he won the seat at Rochdale this February.

Free Palestine March & Rally

Galloway was not the only powerful speaker at the rally, with putting in his usual performance as “probably the best living political speaker at least using the english language” and Jeremy Corbyn, still a much underrated speaker, also showing what he could do. And there were others too, including Paul Mackney of the higher education teachers’ union, NATFHE.

Free Palestine March & Rally

The march from Embankment to Trafalgar Square had been reasonably large but not huge, though more had arrived for the rally. Waiting at the side of the march as it reached the square was human rights activist Peter Tatchell with a group from Outrage!

Free Palestine March & Rally

They supported the Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice, but demanded an end to the “so-called ‘honour’ killing of Palestinian women, and the arrest, jailing, torture and murder of lesbian and gay Palestinians by factions of the PLO, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian Authority.”

Free Palestine March & Rally

At first police stopped the group from getting to the march and handing out leaflets, but after a complaint by Tatchell they were allow to do so. Some march stewards tried to stop people taking the leaflets, but many did so and expressed their support.

You can read more about the event on the second May page on My London Diary under the heading George’s Triumph and the pictures begin at the right of this page.


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Holloway, Nabja, Vegans, Refugees & Topshop – 2016

Tuesday, May 14th, 2024

Holloway, Nabja, Vegans, Refugees & Topshop – I celebrated 14th May 2016 with a busy day of protests around London.


Reclaim Holloway

Holloway, Nabja, Vegans, Refugees & Topshop
Jeremy Corbyn

Islington Hands Off Our Public Services, Islington Kill the Housing Bill and the Reclaim Justice Network marched from rally on Holloway Road demanding that when Holloway prison is closed the site remains in public hands, and that the government replace the prison with council housing and the vital community services needed to prevent people being caught up in a damaging criminal justice system.

Holloway, Nabja, Vegans, Refugees & Topshop

The prison is in Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency and the then Labour leader turned up on his bike to speak before the march to give his support.

Holloway, Nabja, Vegans, Refugees & Topshop

There was a long rally outside the prison with speeches by local councillors, trade unionists and campaigning groups.

Holloway, Nabja, Vegans, Refugees & Topshop

Islington Council wanted to see the site used for social housing and in 2022 gave https://www.ahmm.co.uk/projects/masterplanning/holloway/ planning permission for a development by Peabody, who bought the site in 2019 with help from the GLA, and London Square for 985 new homes. 60% of these will be affordable, including 415 for social rent, together with a 1.4-acre public park, a Women’s Building, and new commercial spaces.

Reclaim Holloway


68th Anniversary Nabka Day – Oxford St

Holloway, Nabja, Vegans, Refugees & Topshop

A rolling protest outside shops which support the Israeli state made its way along Oxford St from Marks and Spencers, with speakers detailing the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people, and opposing attempts to criminalise and censor the anti-Zionist boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

It came on the day before Nabka Day, the anniversary of the ‘day of the catastrophe’ which commemorates when around 80% of Palestinians were forced to leave their homes between December 1947 and January 1949, and later prevented by Israeli law from returning to their homes, or claiming their property.

The protesters included both Palestinians and Jews opposed to the continuing oppression of the Palestinians by the Israeli government. They were met by a small group of people holding Israeli flags who stood in their way and shouted insults, accusing them of anti-Semitism.

The organisers were clear that the protest was not anti-Semitic but against Zionism and some actions of the Israeli government. Both police and protesters tried hard to avoid confrontation with those who had clearly come to disrupt and provoke.

Many UK businesses play an important part in supporting the Israeli government by selling Israeli goods and those produced in the occupied territories and in other ways, and their were brief speeches as the protest halted outside some of them detailing some of these links.

More on My London Diary at 68th Anniversary Nabka Day.

This Saturday, 18th May 2024, you can join the march in London, starting at the BBC on the 76th anniversary of the Nabka calling for an end to the current genocide in Gaza.


Vegan Earthlings Masked Video Protest – Trafalgar Square

Vegans in white masks from London Vegan Actions were standing in a large circle on the North Terrace of Trafalgar Square, some holding laptops or tables showing a film about the mistreatment of animals in food production, bullfighting, etc. Although bright sun made the laptop screens almost impossible to see and the sound outdoors was largely inaudible the large circle of people standing in white masks did attract attention.

More pictures Vegan Earthlings masked video protest.


Refugees Welcome say protesters – Trafalgar Square

Also protesting in front of the National Gallery were a small group holding posters calling for human rights, fair treatment and support for refugees. Some held a banner with the message ‘free movement for People Not Weapons‘.

More pictures Refugees Welcome say protesters.


Topshop protest after cleaners sacked – Oxford St

After Topshop suspended two cleaners who were members of the United Voices of the World trade union for protesting for a living wage and sacked one of them protests were taking place outside their stores around the country.

The UVW were supported by others at the London protest which began outside Topshop on Oxford Street by others including trade unionists from the CAIWU and Ian Hodson, General Secretary of the BWAFU as well as then Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and Class War.

A large crowd of police and extra illegal security guards wearing no ID blocked the entrance to the shop stopping both protesters and customers from entering. The several hundred protesters held up placards and banners and protested noisily but made no serious attempt to go in to the store.

A man wears a mask of Topshop owner Phillip Green

Some protesters, led by the Class War ‘Womens Death Brigade’ moved onto the road, blocking it for some minutes before the whole group of protesters marched to block the Oxford Circus junction for some minutes until a large group of police arrived and fairly gently persuade them to move.

They stopped outside John Lewis, another major store in a long-running dispute with the union as it allowed its cleaning contractor to pay its cleaners low wages, with poor conditions of service and poor management, disclaiming any responsibility for workers who keep its stores running.

The protest there was again noisy and there were some heated verbal exchanges between protesters and police, but I saw no arrests. After a few minutes the protesters marched off to continue their protest outside another Oxford Street Topshop branch close to Marble Arch.

More at Topshop protest after cleaners sacked.


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March & Rally for Palestine – 2002

Saturday, April 13th, 2024

March & Rally for Palestine: I find it interesting to look back at the march and rally in support of Palestine which took place in London on Saturday 13th April 2002 for several reasons.

March & Rally for Palestine

The march was organised by the Muslim Association of Britain and came after the start of the large scale Israeli Operation Defensive Shield in towns and villages across the West Bank and battles against Palestinians in Jenin and Nablus in early April.

March & Rally for Palestine

Operation Defensive Shield was aimed at at halting Palestinian suicide bombings against civilians in Israel which were taking place during the Second Intifada.

March & Rally for Palestine

Around 30,000 people, mainly Muslims, had gathered at Hyde Park to march to the rally at Trafalgar Square (police estimates of the number at 10-15,000 were clearly too small.) According to CNNthey clambered on to Nelson’s Column chanting slogans before burning and tearing Israeli flags.”

March & Rally for Palestine

Well, a few of them did burn flags, though not in my sight, but rather more joined in the chanting of ‘”Down with Israel,” “Down, down U.S.A.” and “Jihad!” or holy war.’ Later in their article CNN do quote a MAB spokesman telling them that jihad “means ‘struggle', it does not mean war“.

They also quote the MAB spokesman telling them that the youth “tend to get a bit excited just as a large crowd does at a football match” and making clear that the MAB “do not believe in the burning of any flag.”

I think you can see from my pictures that this protest had a very different atmosphere from the current protests calling for a ceasefire and the end of the massacres of the Palestinian people. The current protests involve the whole range of the British population – including many Jews – and are largely about ending the senseless wholesale killing and destruction while many in 2002 were clearly showing support for the activities of Palestinian militants including suicide bombers. There are a number of posters and placards in my pictures which would now result in arrests.

Tony Benn was one of the speakers at the rally and is of course no longer with us, but Jeremy Corbyn still speaks at today’s protests. CNN quotes him in 2002 as saying:

This is a demonstration by thousands of British people, Muslim and non-Muslim, demanding peace and the establishment of a Palestinian state and withdrawal by Israeli forces. And the message to Tony Blair is now clear, he must stop speaking on behalf of George Bush and instead on behalf of peace and justice in the Middle East.”

Replace Blair by Sunak, Bush by Biden and it still makes sense.

This was also I think the first time I had posted colour pictures of a protest on My London Diary. Back in March 2002 I was still working with film, both black and white and colour negative.

Of course film does not come with EXIF data, but I think the colour pictures were probably made using a Konica Hexar F, with various Leica M fitting lenses, with those in the crowd using a 15mm Voigtlander. They were scanned with the first film scanner I bought, a Canoscan which had just come out in 2002, and neither hardware or software were really up to the job. The final picture is not one I posted in 2002, and I have improved the scan made then a little in Photoshop.

A few more pictures on the April 2002 page of My London Diary.


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Palestinian Land Day – 2019

Saturday, March 30th, 2024

Palestinian Land Day remembers the day in 1976 when unarmed protesters were killed when marches in Arab towns against the confiscation of land were confronted by Israeli army and police. Six unarmed Palestinians were killed around a hundred wounded and hundreds arrested. Most of the information here on Land Day is from Wikipedia.

Palestinian Land Day - 2019

The numbers involved now seem so small compared to the over 32,000 murdered in Gaza in recent months but it was a significant event as the marches were the first since 1948 in which Palestinians had organised nationally together against Israeli policies with these marches and a national strike.

Palestinian Land Day - 2019

The protests were against plans to confiscate Arab land and to expand Jewish settlements in Galilee were a part of an increasing seizure of Arab land.

Palestinian Land Day - 2019

In response to the planned strike and marches there had been a much increased police and military presence in the area, with armoured vehicles and tanks being driven “along the unpaved roads of various villages of the Galilee“. Some of these military convoys were attacked by youths with stones and even, according to Israeli government sources, Molotov cocktails.

Palestinian Land Day - 2019

The Israeli government had declared the strikes and all demonstrations illegal and some Palestinian leaders had voted against supporting them, but these actions seem only to have hardened the resolve of the Palestinians.

Palestinian Land Day - 2019

According to the Wikipedia article, quoting an academic source, the events led to “a new sense of national pride, together with anger toward the state and police and sorrow over the dead protesters, developed among the Arab community in Israel.” And in 1988, Land Day was announced as “a Palestinian-Israeli civil national day of commemoration and a day of identification with Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza, to be marked by yearly demonstrations and general strikes.

The Freedom, justice & equality for Palestinians protest in London close to the Israeli Embassy in Kensington on Land Day, 30th March 2019 came a year after the 2018 Land Day Protest in Gaza, also known as The Great March of Return. On that day in Gaza, 30,0000 Palestinians took part in a largely peaceful march some distance from the border fence. But Israeli snipers in safe positions opened fire on those who approached the fence, some to burn tyres or through objects at the fence. 17 Palestinians were killed, including five Hamas members, and more than 1,400 injured.

A small group of Zionists had come to oppose the protest

Smaller marches in Gaza continued at weekly intervals and by Land Day 2019 a total of over 250 mainly unarmed protesters had been killed and thousands injured.

It’s hard to look back on history to Land Day (and beyond) and not see how Zionist right wing policies have failed both Israel and Palestine and are continuing to fall all those in the area. Balfour is often blamed for kicking the situation off, but had his “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine” ever been taken seriously we would not be where we are now.

A line of police protects the Zionist pen

The Oslo Accords were another start to a possible peace process, but again firmly opposed by the right-wing Zionist parties – and Israeli prime minister Yitshak Rabin was assassinated for signing them. Leaders opposed to the accords – Ariel Sharon and current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to power.

This man shouts repeatedly ‘There are no Palestinians in Gaza!’

On Land Day 2019, a group of Zionist extremists had come along to the Palestinian protest to try and shout down those speaking. Police kept them a short distance away and with a relatively powerful public address system their efforts were largely inaudible.

Some of the Palestinians took a large Palestine flag and hid the group behind it until police persuaded them back and other protesters moved in to argue with and shout at them. Police tried to move the Palestinians away with little success while I was present

Taking part in the Palestinian protest were as usual many Jews, including the ultra-orthodox Neturei Karta who see Zionism as diametrically opposed to Judiasm.

Freedom, justice & equality for Palestinians.


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Extremists and Mob Rule

Thursday, March 14th, 2024

Extremists and Mob Rule: Last Saturday I walked along with around 450,000 others from Hyde Park to the US Embassy in Nine Elms calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and an end to Israeli genocide. The IDF has now killed over 30,000 people, mainly women and children and many more are threatened with starvation and disease as Israel continues only allow a trickle of the food and medicines needed into Gaza.

Extremists and Mob Rule

Humanitarian agencies including UNRWA are ready to distribute aid, but far too little is coming across the borders and the Israeli army are disrupting their activities, while Israeli spokesmen continue to produce lies which even the BBC now feels it has to challenge. The pictures here all come from this march.

Extremists and Mob Rule

Of course it wasn’t a mob, but a peaceful protest. It wasn’t Islamists taking over the streets of London, though there may well have been a few taking part among the more than 99% of us who were protesting because of the terrible scenes we have seen on even the limited reporting which has been allowed to come from Gaza – where Israel still prevents the international press from reporting. And because many of us believe that we should have a peaceful solution which gives freedom to both Palestine and Israel.

Extremists and Mob Rule

It wasn’t one of of my better days. I was feeling a little weak and walked twice as far as I should have done. The march may only have been around two and a half miles, but photographing it I walked at least twice that, going back and forth. And after collapsing for a short rest beside the Thames opposite the US Embassy I walked back to the middle of Vauxhall Bridge. From there I could see almost the length of Vauxhall Bridge Road, around three quarters of a mile still packed with marchers and no end in sight. But I was tired and turned back and took the train home from Vauxhall station.

Extremists and Mob Rule

Later today the UK Government is expected to announce its new definition of extremism, which is expected to be something along the lines of:

promotion or advancement of ideology based on hatred, intolerance or violence or undermining or overturning the rights or freedoms of others, or of undermining democracy itself

The point behind this re-definition is to enable the government to list organisations which it considers extremist and to ban these from meetings with ministers and elected officials or receiving public money and ban individuals who belong to them from serving on government boards.

It is clear that it will be used by the current government to list a wide range of organisations that are seen as left-wing in an attempt to embarrass the Labour Party, including those that support the Palestinian opposition to Israeli occupation, and with Sunak’s crazed accusations of “mob rule” could be applied to any organisation that supports large protests on any issue, but particularly calling for freedom for Palestine. And I expect to see Stop The War and CND on that list along with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Friends of Al-Aqsa, Muslim Association of Britain and the Palestinian Forum in Britain.

Peter Tatchell

Reports suggest that the largest Muslim group in the UK, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), as well as Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND) and Palestine Action will be on the list and any other groups opposed to the UK’s Prevent programme. Government departments have boycotted the MCB since 2009.

Listing will not ban these groups, though it might deny funding to some organisations which many might feel important in maintaining effective democracy. And if this wretched government remains in power much longer we will certainly see further powers given to the police particularly over the policing of protests, probably giving them much greater control over the activities of listed groups.

It will almost certainly be used to stigmatise groups which campaign against the monarchy, and perhaps also those calling for changes to our parliamentary system such as the abolition or reform of the House of Lords or proportional voting systems. And groups such as Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil will surely be there.

Michael Gove has apparently rejected suggestions that trans rights activists will be among those listed, but suspicions remain that these and some gay rights groups might also be targeted.

Perhaps too, human rights organisations that launch legal cases against government legislation might feature, and when we have had government ministers in recent years labelling the Supreme Court as anti-democratic it is hard to see where this definition might end.

Like many recent statements from the government, this one from Gove seems dangerous and divisive. It might even itself be seen as “undermining democracy itself.

You can read more about the protest march last Saturday, 9th March 2024 and see another seventy or so of my pictures at End Gaza Genocide Massive March To US Embassy


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Hands Off Iraq, George Galloway & Tony Benn

Saturday, March 2nd, 2024

Hands Off Iraq, George Galloway & Tony Benn – Saturday 2nd March 2002 saw a huge protest against Britain becoming involved in the US plans to invade Iraq and depose Sadam Hussein.

Hands Off Iraq, George Galloway & Tony Benn

It’s hard to know how many marched that day, though I think there may have been around half a million of us on the streets of London,but it was certainly a very large march though not quite on the scale of that on 16th February 2003. Unfortunately I had to miss that one as I had only come out of hospital the previous day and could only walk a few yards.

Hands Off Iraq, George Galloway & Tony Benn

George Galloway, then Labour MP for Glasgow Kelvin, has come back into the news recently by winning the Rochdale by-election. He along with Tony Benn and others was one of the founders of Stop The War following the US invasion of Afghanisatan and the coalition organised this and other protests against the invasions of Iraq then being prepared by the US Miitary. Galloway was and still is a flamboyant figure and a powerful speaker, though I was rather more attracted to others in the movement such as Tony Benn, who appears in more of my pictures.

Hands Off Iraq, George Galloway & Tony Benn

But then as now, I wasn’t at the protest to photograph celebrities, but to tell the story of the event, mainly through photographs of the ordinary people taking part. Of course my pictures concentrate on those who caught my attention, sometimes by their expressions and actions, but more often through their banners and placards which link them to the cause they were marching for.

Hands Off Iraq, George Galloway & Tony Benn

Although I’d been photographing protests for some years – occasionally since the 1970s and more intensively since the 1990s, my pictures had simply gone into picture libraries and a few exhibitions and few had been used in the mass media.

Hands Off Iraq, George Galloway & Tony Benn

Shortly after Indymedia, a global network of independent news media was set up in 1999 I began publishing work on the UK site – and some of it may be still be available on the now archived site. This was of course entirely non-commercial, and had a very limited readership on the left, among anarchists and the security services.

But I also set up a new web site of my own, My London Diary, which is still available online, though its now several years since I have added new work. Although I have unlimited web space there is a limit to the number of files my web server can handle, and I was very close to this. Covid also played its part in various ways.

In the early years of My London Diary I was still working with film and only had a black and white flatbed scanner. So the pictures for Hands Off Iraq online were all in black and white, though I will also have taken some in colour, but so far I’ve digitised few colour images from these years. The 24 black and white images on My London Diary will have been made from 8×10″ black and white press prints submitted to a picture library and scanned on a flatbed scanner. In 2002 although many magazines were printed in colour the main sales for news images were still black and white, though things were rapidly changing, and I was soon to begin moving to working mainly in digital colour.

Here, with a few corrections is the text I put on line back in 2022 with these pictures:

The Stop the War, Hands off Iraq demonstration on 2 march was a large sign of public opinion. people were still leaving Hyde Park at the start of the march when Trafalgar Square was full to overflowing two and a half hours later.

Police estimates of the number were risible as usual – and can only reflect an attempt to marginalise the significant body of opinion opposed to the war or a complete mathematical inability on behalf of the police.

Tony Benn told me and other photographers it wasn’t worth taking his picture – “it won’t get in the papers unless I go and kick a policeman” but he didn’t and he was quite right.

More pictures on My London Diary


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