Posts Tagged ‘Marks & Spencer’

Palestine Land Day, Bunny Hop, and Afrin

Thursday, March 31st, 2022

Palestine Land Day, Bunny Hop, and Afrin. Saturday 31st March 2018 was Holy Saturday, the day between Good Friday and Easter Day which most people now call Easter Saturday, though more correctly this comes a week later. But only one of the four events I photographed that day was connected to Easter.

Palestine Land Day, Bunny Hop, and Afrin

Land Day protest against supporters of Israeli state – Oxford St

Palestine Land Day, Bunny Hop, and Afrin

Palestine Land Day, observed annually by Arab citizens of Israel and Palestinians across the world, remembers the day in 1976, March 30th when a general strike and protests were called in Arab towns in Israel against plans by Israel to expropriate around 8 square miles of land in Galilee for Jewish settlements, about 2.5 square miles of which was Arab owned. The Israeli government tried to suppress the protests using police and the army as well as threatening strikers with dismissal. Six unarmed Palestinians were shot and killed and there were many injuries.

The annual Land Day celebrations since then in Israel have often been marked by violent attacks on protesters, with injuries and deaths. On 30th March 2018 Israel Defence Force snipers were placed in position on the separation wall in Gaza and opened fire on unarmed protesters several hundred yards away using live ammunition. 17 Civilians were killed and over 750 seriously injured by live fire, others injured by rubber bullets and tear gas.

This protest was led by a group which have been protesting regularly outside the Oxford Street main store of Marks & Spencers for many years against their support for Israel. They had planned a large rolling protest for the day following Land Day, going along Oxford Street stopping for short speeches outside stores with business links with Apartheid Israel, calling for shoppers to boycott them for selling Israeli goods. While I was with them as well as Marks & Spencers they also protested outside Selfridges, which sells Israeli wines, Adidas which supports the Israel football team, Boots which sells cosmetics made in Israel and Carphone Warehouse.

Land Day protest against Israeli state


BMXLife Charity Bunny Hop – Oxford St

BMX Life is a group of BMX bike riders started after young Tommy Wright suffered a near fatal heart attack, and his family wanted to give something back after the support they had received at Evelina London Children’s Hospital. They have since raised over £60,000 for the register charity Evelina Children’s Heart Organisation ECHO.

The riders dressed as Easter Bunnies for what was their 4th Bunny Hop ride-out in London. Previously I’d met them riding at Christmas dressed as Santas and reindeer.

BMXLife Charity Bunny Hop


Defend Afrin – Bring Anna Home – Oxford St

Kurds and supporters marched from close to Marble Arch to a rally in Parliament Square demanding an end to the invasion of Afrin in north-west Syria by Turkish forces and al Qaeda-affiliated militias in clear violation of international law, and its air strikes have deliberately targeted civilian areas.

The Turkish aim is to destroy a peaceful state and eliminate its majority Kurdish population, with President Erdogan announcing Turkey’s intention to invade all the Kurdish areas of Syria and “cleanse” the area of its Kurdish people.

Turkey is a member of NATO, with the organisation’s second largest army, supplied with weapons mainly from European countries including the UK who had recently signed a major arms deal. The British government has disgracefully expressed support for Turkey’s attacks, claiming it has a right to defend its borders, despite the fighting being outside them and the announced intention to push on to even more distant areas in Syria. The Kurdish peoples protection units YPG and YPJ fighting the attacks are only lightly armed but were putting up a determined resistance, but without further support were unable to defeat Turkey.

The protest called for an end to the invasion of Syria with an immediate ceasefire to enable the body of YPJ volunteer Anna Campbell to be returned to her family in Sussex, an end to all arms sales, to Turkey and other anti-human regimes in the Middle East, for humanitarian relief for Afrin and other areas of Syria and for an investigation into human rights abuses and war crimes in Afrin.

Eventually, after Afrin was captured, pressure from the US and the Council of the European Union condemning Turkey’s military action brought Turkish advances to an end, until President Trump withdrew US forces from the area, betraying the Kurds who had defeated ISIS with US air support. Further Turkish attacks then took place but were internationally condemned.

Defend Afrin – Bring Anna Home


Against Israeli Land Day massacre – Israeli Embassy, Kensington

News of the cold-blooded massacre of Palestinian Land Day protesters with videos that shocked the world on March 30th led to an emergency protest being called close to the Israeli embassy on Kensington High Street (the embassy is a few yards away on the private Kensington Palace Gardens where no protests are allowed.)

I wrote “It is hard to see how anyone with the slightest streak of humanity or decency can fail to condemn the cold-blooded shooting of unarmed civilians carrying out a peaceful protest, but the coverage of the event in the UK media has been surprisingly muted, with the BBC giving considerable air-time to Israeli state speakers who have shamefully claimed the massacre was reasonable and fully justified.”

The UN called for an independent investigation, which Israel refused. But it was perhaps not coincidental that this is the only protest I can recall at the embassy where there has not been a usually small group of counter-protesters waving Israeli flags in support of the regime and its actions. But more likely it was because it was Passover.

Against Israeli Land Day massacre


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Support of Palestinians – not Anti-Semitism

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020

Fortunately I am not a member of the Labour Party, so can speak freely about Israel and Palestine without fear of being expelled from the party. I’ve never actually been a member, though in my teenage years used to occasionally attend the meetings for young socialists at the local Cooperative hall, mainly I think because they would offer cigarettes around very freely. As a fresher I joined the Labour Students and attended meetings until they were closed down by the national party for being socialist. But by then I was involved with various other groups campaigning on various political issues but outside the party system. That remains the case and I’m still a member of groups including Friends of the Earth, CND and Global Justice Now.

The only political party I’ve ever actually joined was the Green Party, though I think back then it may still have been called the Ecology Party. After a year I didn’t renew my membership, partly because it seemed to be spending most of its time on internal feuding, but also because of the strange cranks it seemed to attract. Of course it also includes some of the most honest and sensible politicians around but our crazy electoral system means few of them getting elected. But most years Caroline Lucas would get my vote as politician of the year, and a few have made it as local politicians and also MEPs. Though sadly the latter opportunity is about to end.

Back in my student years and later, virtually everyone on the left including myself admired and supported Israel. It wasn’t just the Holocaust, but also their fight to free themselves from the British mandate and their determination to build a future. I think we remained largely ignorant about the 1948 ‘Nakba’ when around half of the Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes. Several of my friends went to volunteer in kibbutz and we envied them and thought seriously about doing the same to help build a socialist future.

Over the years we’ve learnt more about what actually happens in Israel and Palestine, and the government of Israel has become very much more right wing. While almost none deny the right of Israel to exist (and to that extent are Zionists), we all want a fair solution in the area which recognises the civil and human rights of Palestinians. The Balfour declaration as well as favouring the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people also insisted “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine” and in 2017 the British government recognised the declaration should also have called for protection of the Palestinian Arabs’ political rights.

I’ve been labelled by a few militant ultra-right anti-Palestinians as an “anti-Semitic photographer” because I have photographed protests against human rights abuses by Israeli government forces – like these I photographed on 23rd December 2017 – and against laws that make people – including notably Nelson Mandela – describe Israel as an “apartheid state”. And also for photographing protests calling for support for the BDS movement, which calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions “to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law.” None of these things are anti-Semitic, though they are opposed to policies of the current government of Israel.

I’m fairly certain however that were I a member of the Labour Party I would now be suspended and expelled for my views – along with many of the leading Jewish (and non-Jewish) Labour activists who express any support for human and civil rights for Palestinians. But fortunately you can’t be expelled if you are not a member.

The protests on this date were prompted by two events. The Palestinian Forum in Britain protested outside the US Embassy after US President Trump’s announcement that the US Embassy in Israel will move to Jerusalem, there was a regular protest calling for a boycott of goods from Israel outside Marks and Spencers on Oxford St and a protest in Trafalgar Square condemned the kidnap, beating up and arrest of 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi by Israeli soldiers – which was also condemned at the two earlier protests.

A few militant supporters of the Israeli oppression of Palestinians came to insult and shout down the event in Trafalgar Square, with one man making clearly racist comments about one of the protesters. A police officer eventually arrived and suggested firmly they go away, but took no action over the complaints of racist abuse made against one of them. The man in a hat in my picture above was found guilty of disorderly behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress for similar behaviour at a BDS protest the following year.

More at:
Free Ahed Tamimi
Free Palestine, Free Ahad Tamimi
Jerusalem, Capital of Palestine


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