Posts Tagged ‘Palestine’

The Spice of Life

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

Perhaps the hardest thing I’ve found about the last eleven months has been the lack of variety. I’ve been fortunate to probably avoid the virus – I was quite ill early in March 2020 but my symptoms didn’t match those then thought to typify Covid-19, though they did match some of those being reported by Covid sufferers – and none of my family or close friends have died from it.

But days mainly spent at home in front of a computer screen have followed days mainly spent at home in front of a computer screen relentlessly, though I have tried to get out for walks or bike rides most days. As someone of an age and medical condition that makes me vulnerable I decided not to travel up to London on public transport, although as a journalist I count as a key worker and could have done so. Apart from usually solitary exercise (occasionally a walk with my wife on Sundays) I’ve made a couple of trips out for pub meals with family or friends when these were allowed, and a few short journeys for medical and dental appointments – including most recently my first Covid vaccination.

There’s Zoom of course, and I hate it, though taking part in a few regular events. It’s a little better on my desktop computer which hasn’t got a camera, but on the notebook or tablet I find it disconcerting to see myself in close-up (and sometimes move out of frame and sit in a more comfortable chair watching the screen from a distance.) It’s perhaps more seeing the others, mainly in head and shoulders close-up that makes me uncomfortable with Zoom; in real life we would be sitting around at a sensible distance, seeing each other at full length and as a part of the overall scene, looking away when we want to at other things. Not those relentless talking or muted full-face heads.

Tuesday 24th February 2009 wasn’t a typical day, and that’s really the point. Few days then were typical. I caught the train to Waterloo and took a bus across to Aldwych, a short journey but faster than walking. A short walk then took me to the Royal Courts of Justice where protesters were supporting the application for judicial review by Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq challenging the government’s failure to fulfil its obligations with respect to Israel’s activities in Palestine.

It was Shrove Tuesday, and from the Royal Courts another bus took me on one of my favourite central London bus journey, up Fleet St and Ludgate Hill to Bank, from where I hurried to Guildhall Yard to the Worshipful Company of Poulters Pancake Races. It perhaps wasn’t one of my better attempts to photograph the event, perhaps because I tried too hard to show the actual running and tossing of pancakes.

I couldn’t stay for the finals of the pancake race but hurried down to Mansion House for the District and Circle Line to Westminster to meet postal workers as they came out of a rally at Methodist Central Hall to protest at government plans to part-privatise the postal service and then proceeded to a short protest in front of Parliament.

There was nothing in my diary for the next few hours, so I took the opportunity to jump onto the Jubilee Line to Stratford and then walk towards the Olympic site for one of my occasional reports on what was happening in the area – which I had been photographing since the 1980s.

I made my way through the Bow Back Rivers, photographing the new lock gates at City Mill Lock. The Olympic site was sealed off to the public by the ‘blue fence’ but I was able to walk along the elevated path on the Northern Outfall Sewer to take a panoramic view of the stadium under construction. It was rather a dull day and not ideal for such wide views with such a large expanse of grey sky.

I took the Central Line back to Oxford Circus for the March of the Corporate Undead, advertised as a “Zombie Shopping Spree” along Oxford Street from Oxford Circus to Marble Arch, complete with coffins, a dead ‘banker’, posters, various members of the undead and a rather good band.

I left the zombies at Marble Arch where they were hanging an effigy of a banker and hurried to my final appointment, a London Bloggers Meetup. The evening’s meeting was being sponsored by Bacardi who were supplying free drinks, including blue and green Breezers which I thought would have been rather suitable for the zombies, but fortunately there was also free beer. I probably took a few pictures, but haven’t published them.

All just a little more interesting than staring at a screen, though there was rather a lot of that to do when I finally got home.

March of the Corporate Undead
Olympic Site Report
London Olympic site pans
Keep the Post Public
Poulters Pancake Race
Al-Haq Sue UK Government


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


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


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


1st December 2018

Tuesday, December 1st, 2020

Two years ago, the first day in December had been declared Stop Universal Credit day of action by Unite Community and small groups around the country were holding protests and handing out leaflets in busy town centres about the many failures and great hardship caused by this poorly though out and badly administered benefit. They called for an end to the long wait before claimants receive money, for applications to be allowed at job centres as well as online, for better help when the system fails people, for direct payments to landlords to avoid rent arrears and evictions and an end to benefit sanctions for all claimants.

Universal Credit was intended to simplify the benefits system, but it failed to take into account the huge range and complexity of situations ordinary people face, and assumed that claimants would have the same kind of support that the middle-class and wealthy take for granted from families, friends and resources. And its failures were compounded by making it a vehicle for cutting costs. As I commented in 2018:

“UC has created incredible hardship, pushing many into extreme poverty and destitution, making them reliant on food banks and street food distributions, greatly increasing the number of homeless and rough sleepers. Thanks to Tory policies, more than 120,000-plus homeless children in Britain will spend Christmas in hostels and B&Bs, many without the means or facilities to provide a Christmas meal.

Some have said that UC is a part of a “state euthanasia” system for the poor, with academic estimates that it and other benefit cuts and sanctions since the 2010 elections having caused 110,000 early deaths, including many suicides. A cross party committee has called for its rollout to be halted until improvements are made, but the government has dismissed virtually all criticism of the system, making only insignificant changes.”

http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2018/12/dec.htm#universal

I took a detour on my journey into London to photograph the protest outside Camden Town station, where protesters were also pointing out that Universal Credit “hands more financial power to male claimants making it a misogynist’s dream, forcing women in violent relationships into greater dependency on their violent male partners.”


The major protest taking place in London was a march and rally organised by the Campaign against Climate Change. Together for Climate Justice began with a rally outside the Polish Embassy, in advance of the following week’s UN climate talks in Katowice, Poland.

Despite the impending global disaster, little real action is being taken by countries around the world and we still seem committed to a course leading inevitably to mass extinction. Behind the failure to act is the intensive lobbying of companies exploiting fossil fuels who have spent many billions in sowing doubt about the scientific consensus of global warming, and continue to produce vast quantities of coal and oil and explore for further resources, increasingly in the more ecologically sensitive areas of the Earth.

At the rally a wide range of speakers expressed their concerns that the talks in Poland are being sponsored by leading firms in Poland’s fossil fuel industry. And at the rally opposite Downing St where Frack Free United were to hand in their petition at the end of the march, a speaker from the Global South reminded us of the urgency of the situation; people there are already dying because of climate change.

Before the march we were all taught to say a few slogans in Polish, including ‘Razem dla klimatu‘ (Together for the Climate) which appeared on a number of placards, and the rather less pronounceable Polish for ‘Time to limit to 1.5’, as well as for ‘Climate, jobs, justice!’.


Finally I made my way to Broadcasting House, where The Palestine Solidarity Campaign and others were calling on the BBC to withdraw from the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest hosted by Israel, to avoid being complicit in Israel’s ongoing violations of Palestinian human rights.

Campaigners say the contest ‘artwashes’ Israel’s human rights record, including the killing of at least 205 Palestinians by Israeli forces in the besieged Gaza Strip since protests began at the end of March, and the passing of the Jewish nation state law which formalises an apartheid system in Israeli law.

A small group of Zionists had come to oppose the protest, but made it clear that they did not want me to photograph them. Some lifted the Israeli flags they were holding to hide their faces when I pointed my camera in their direct or turned away.


More at:

BBC Boycott Eurovision Israel 2019
Together for Climate Justice
Stop Universal Credit day of action


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


November 2014 (3)

Friday, November 27th, 2020

Fortunately there was nothing in my diary for the last Thursday in November 2014, as I think it was probably past 2am before I had finished editing and filing my pictures from the two events on Wednesday evening. But on Friday it was another early start for me, though not very early, catching the first train on which I can travel at reduced – but still excessive – rail fares.

I’m fortunate to be reasonably well-off, largely thanks to pension contributions paid during 30 years of full-time employment, though by no means rich. More importantly I live in a house which we finished paying for around 25 years ago, and which, though not grand serves its purpose. It means that we can afford both to eat and to keep warm – though I’m typing this with an extra jumper on in a room that is sometimes cold enough for me to wear a woolly hat.

But for many – and particularly many who are elderly and disabled – the choice between keeping warm and eating is a desperate one, eased only slightly by the annual ‘Winter Fuel Payment’ of £200 per household. As I wrote in 2014, ‘The official statistics show that in the year 2012/2013 over 10,000 people died from fuel poverty, including thousands of people in London, and figures for last winter are likely to be higher.’

The protest by pensioners, Fuel Poverty Action and No Dash for Gas was against Energy UK, the lobbying organisation of the Big Six energy companies who together made profits of £3.7 billion in 2012/3, and they marched from Charing Cross Station to their Regent St offices, stopping on the way for a short action outside the Institute of Directors on Pall Mall.

They then held a 15 minute die-in stopping traffic on the road outside the Energy UK offices before continuing with a rally.


Later in the day I joined the Palestinian Prisoners Campaign for a protest outside the City offices of Hewlett Packard. Saturday was the ‘UK Stop Arming Israel’ day of action, but they came on Friday as the HP offices are closed at the weekend. HP is one of the 20 top US armaments companies and has a $6 billion investment in Israel where they provide the IT backbone for the entire Israeli war machine – from the army, to the navy, to the Ministry of Defense, as well as for the prisons and intelligence services, backing up the repression, imprisonment and torture of Palestinians.

The group protests regularly at companies providing support for the Israeli regime, and includes a number of Palestinian and Jewish protesters and is supported by the Islamic Inminds Human Rights Group which has links with Iran.


Finally I made my way to the Mexican Embassy in Mayfair for a protest over the disappearance and almost certain massacre of 43 Ayotzinapa college students in Iguala on 26 September who appear to have been arrested by police and handed over by the local mayor to the local crime syndicate Guerreros Unidos (“United Warriors”) to be murdered.

It was now quite dark and the street was badly lit – with most of what light there was coming from the windows of the buildings around. Many held posters with pictures of the missing students and asking in Spanish ‘Where are they now?’ but in seems very unlikely that any are still alive. Although the scale of this massacre caught the attention of the Mexican people – and briefly that of the world – unfortunately similar murders are not unusual in Mexico.

Two embassy staff came out to receive a letter to the Mexican government from the protesters and spent some minutes on the steps listening to the speeches.


More about all three events on My London Diary:
Solidarity with Mexican students
Stop Arming Israel protest at HP
No More Deaths from Fuel Poverty


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Al Quds march – 28 Sept 2008

Monday, September 28th, 2020

Twelve years ago today, rather than sitting at home in front of a computer as I am today, still avoiding the virus, I was photographing one of the more contentious regular protests on the streets of London, the annual Al Quds Day march.

Al Quds is the Arabic name for the city of Jerusalem, literally meaning ‘The Holy One’ and in 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran announced the last Friday of the month of Ramadan as International Quds Day to express support for oppressed Muslims around the world and in particular to protest against the occupation of Palestine and the oppression of its people.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews opposed to Zionism took a leading role in the march

In the UK, a march through London takes place on the Sunday after the day itself, and is generally attended by several thousand people, mainly Shia Muslim families from mosques around the UK, but supported by many other groups, mainly Muslim but including some Jewish, pro-Palestinian and left-wing groups. This year because of the virus it was celebrated on Friday May 22 by a world-wide on-line event.

Back in 2008 the main groups opposing the march were Iranian opposition groups, along with a larger number of protesters from extreme right anti-Islamic groups, with just a small number of Zionist supporters of Israel. Police largely managed to keep the two sides apart while allowing both to protest.

But the situation did get rather fraught, particularly when the march was passing the where the opposition groups had been kept behind barriers at Piccadilly Circus, and I found myself getting abuse and threats from both sides. At the time I wrote:

“Things got a little heated at Piccadilly Circus, and some demonstrators objected to me taking pictures of them shouting and gesturing at the counter-demonstration, pushing me out of the march. Doubtless some of the other demonstrators on the other side didn’t like me photographing them either, and the police certainly wanted me back on the other side of the tape again. It is important to record what’s happening, and to stand up for a free press, so I kept taking pictures.”

My London Diary, September 2008

There are many (too many) of these pictures on the pages of this story on My London Diary.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


One Year Ago – Sep 20th 2019

Sunday, September 20th, 2020

Friday 20 Sep 2019 was a busy day for me, and certainly one without any social distancing. It was the day of the Earth Day Global Climate Strike inspired by Greta Thunberg, and schoolchildren, teachers, parents and supporters from all over London were taking part in several events across the capital, as well as in other towns and cities across the world.

A large rally filled much of Millbank, from outside the Houses of Parliament down almost to Horseferry Road where there were speakers and performers on a lorry, with loudspeakers at intervals along the road to relay the sounds. The crowd was so dense near the bus that I gave up trying to get through and went along sidestreets to make my way to the front.

I made my way out slowly back through the crowd taking pictures, and found that more people were still streaming into Parliament Square as I walked into Westminster station to take the tube to the Elephant.

There was a poster display and short rally outside the University of the Arts there as people gathered to march to join workers at Southwark Council who were also protesting.

Instead I took the tube to Brixton, where teachers had brought children from local schools for a lunchtime rally before going to join the protest in Westminster. I left to avoid the crowd as the rally came to an end and went back to Parliament Square, where as well as the climate protest there were also a group of Kurds protesting about the Turkish invasion of Rojava.

Campaigners, mainly school students, were now also sitting down and blocking Whitehall and police were beginning to make arrests. Eventually the school students decided to march, and turned into Whitehall Court, where police blocked them and they sat down again.

It’s a road the has very little traffic, and I couldn’t understand why police continued to harass them and try to get them to move, as a protest there would inconvenience very few if any. But eventually the students got fed up with the police threats and got up to march again, only to sit back down and block Whitehall again.

Eventually they decided to get up and march back to Parliament Square to join the other protesters there, but I left them to go to Carnaby St, still a Mecca for tourists sixty years on from the so-called ‘Swinging Sixties’. It’s now a rather dull shopping experience with relatively high prices for the same kind of stuff as almost every high street worldwide, including Puma sports shoes.

This afternoon it was a little livelier and noisier than usual, with the Inminds Islamic human rights group which generally includes both Palestinian and Jewish campaigners outside their store after 215 Palestinian sports clubs have asked Puma to respect human rights and end its sponsorship of the Israel Football Association which includes clubs from illegal settlements built on stolen Palestinian land. Inminds provide some loud and enchanting Palestinian music to enjoy as well as the speeches at their peaceful and well-organised protests, many of which I’ve photographed along with many others in London over human rights issues in this country and others around the world.

At a previous protest outside this store, protesters were physically attacked by a small group of Zionists, but this time I saw just one man who came and screamed abuse for a minute or two, while many other people stopped to talk, read the banners and take leaflets, shocked by the facts they displayed. There is little coverage in the mass media but the campaigners say the Israeli government on average imprisons two Palestinian children every day, kills one every 60 hours and destroys one Palestinian home every nine hours.

COVID-19 has dominated our news for months, and recently the media are full of reports of our governments failures to set up effective testing and tracing and possible new restrictions on us. But the issues these protests a year ago remain vital. And unless we take urgent action to cut our impact on the environment through climate change and environmental damage the consequences for human life will be disatrous, threatening us all. This year the Fridays For Future global climate action day is September 25.

You can see more pictures from the various protests on the day last year on My London Diary:
Carnaby St Puma Boycott
Global Climate Strike Protest continues
Elephant & Brixton Global Climate Strike
Global Climate Strike Rally


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Boycott Puma

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020

Back in 1924 the two Dassler brothers founded a shoe factory in Herzogenaurach, Bavaria, Germany, the first company in the world to specialise in sports footwear, working together until 1948 when they decided to split the company into two, forming Adidas and Puma, becoming bitter rivals, both still based in Herzogenaurach and producing sports and leisure footwear and clothing. Adidas is now the second largest sportswear manufacturer in the world, and Puma is number three.

Puma sponsors many athletes and clubs in different sports around the world, including Manchester City. InMinds Islamic human rights group protest outside the Puma Carnaby Street store because they say Puma whitewashes Israel’s war crimes by sponsoring the apartheid Israel Football Association which includes clubs from illegal settlements built on stolen Palestinian land.

The protesters say these settlements constitute a war crime under international law and 215 Palestinian sports clubs have asked Puma to respect human rights and cut its ties with the IFA. Puma has failed to do so.

Inminds supports the human and civil rights of the Palestinian people and campaigns for people to oppose the cruel treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli state and by some Israeli citizens, particularly those from some of the settlements who attack Palestinians. It points out the different treatment of Palestinians which amount to an Apartheid system. One of the banners reminds people that on average Israel imprisons a Palestinian child every 12 hours and kills one every 60 hours, and it destroys a Palestinian home every 9 hours. Another poster points to the 221 Palestinian prisoners who have been killed in Israeli jails, either by torture or medical neglect.

Many of those passing the protest were shocked to hear these statistics and others on the leaflets that were handed out, and some stopped to take photographs with the protesters. One man stopped briefly to shout insults at the protesters, and similar protests have often been opposed by Zionist protesters, at times violently as video taken by the group and posted online shows.

A similar protest here in October 2018 came under attack by two well-known anti-Palestinian activists, who in June 2019 pleaded guilty to charges of harassment and threatening behaviour after the prosecution agreed to drop more serious charges of assault. As well as fining one and imposing a community curfew on the other, Hendon Magistrates Court imposed an “indefinite” restraining order on both, barring them from coming within ten metres of three of the pro-Palestinian activists.  

Inminds take pains to avoid anti-Semitic attitudes and comments in their posters and literature and their protests often include Jewish supporters, but they robustly support the human rights of Palestinians and oppose the oppressive restraints of the Israeli state against the Palestinian people.

A few more pictures at Carnaby St Puma Boycott.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Al Quds march

Saturday, October 19th, 2019

The Al Quds (Jerusalem) Day march is always a contentious event in London, and one that I often find difficult to photograph, and I had my problems this year.

Of course many of those who protest regularly for freedom for Palestine know me as I photograph many of their protests – as you can see on My London Diary.

Some of those who have organised the Al Quds day marches over the years also now recognise me and are friendly, but it is an event that does meet with a lot of opposition by some Zionist groups and where many of those attending are rather wary about being photographed. So I found myself several times being stopped by people asking who I was taking pictures for and some trying to prevent me photographing.

As regular readers will know, I like to take pictures close to those I’m photographing, though I don’t particularly like the kind of distortion you can see in the hand of the organiser above, taken with the lens on the Fuji set at 11mm – 16.5mm full-frame equivalent. I’ve long felt that the ideal photographic distance is one where you can reach out and touch the person you are photographing, as if you were talking with them, though sometimes a little greater distance is necessary.

Of course there are times when you do have to stand further back. There was a giant Palestinian flag between me and the Neturei Karta ultra-orthodox Jews when I made the picture showing their recipe for a peaceful end to the bloodshed in Palestine. There the distance was a necessity.

And there are pictures that need a longer focal length to isolate the subject, as in this picture, made with the remarkable 18-150mm on the Olympus E-M5MarkII at 135mm (270mm equivalent.) Long lenses certainly do have their photographic uses, and this one comes in an incredibly small and light package.

I’m not sure I will go to photograph this event next year, despite my support for the Palestinians and my hope that one day they will gain justice and be able to live in peace with their Jewish neighbours, to make good the neglected second part of the Balfour declaration that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”  I’ll continue to photograph other pro-Palestinian events in London, but this one was just too much aggravation. I ended up feeling more welcome photographing the Zionists opposing the event.

Solidarity with Palestine

Saturday, September 21st, 2019

As someone born as World War II was finishing it isn’t surprising that I grew up with with a great deal of sympathy and support for the young state of Israel, which had won its freedom from the British mandate by a number of terrorist attacks, most notably the King David Hotel Bombing, a massacre which killed 91 people and left around 50 badly wounded.

I was too young to know anything about it at the time of the attack, but in later years the Zionist underground organization the Irgun  was the first which I heard some call terrorists and others freedom fighters. Around 15 years later when I started a real interest in politics and free cigarettes at the local young socialist meetings in the Co-op Hallit was certainly the latter view that prevailed, not least because many of those in the Labour movement were Jewish.

Then we believed the lies that were told about Israel occupying a largely empty land and making the deserts bloom. Since then we have become aware of the properties and land stolen from the Palestinians, many of whom were forced out as refugees, and of the shrinking map of Palestine and the attacks on Gaza. The Zionist Israeli government has become increasing right-wing, violating the human rights of the Palestinians and international law over the years, setting up an apartheid system in Israel, making it impossible now not to support the Palestinian cause.

The protest on 11th May came at the start of the week remembering the Nakba and called for an end to Israeli oppression and the siege of Gaza and for a just peace that recognises Palestinian rights including the right of return. It urged everyone to boycott and divest from Israel and donate to medical aid for Palestine. Many of those on the march carried keys, some those of properties they had been forced to leave back in 1948, others simply as a reminder of the dispossession.

Among those marching was Palestinian teenage activist Ahed Tamimi, arrested after slapping an Israeli soldier in December 2017 after soldiers had entered her home and severely injured her 15-year-old cousin Mohammed. It wasn’t easy to photograph her on the march as stewards kept photographers outside the area in front of where she was marching holding the banner at the head of the march.

I wasn’t able to get close to her, but had to photograph with a long lens from a distance. With the 14-150mm lens on the Olympus E-M5 Mk II I managed to get a decent image with her filling much of the frame. The lens is equivalent to a 28-300mm, and for this picture I was using it at its extreme and at f5.6 and 1/250th at ISO 1250.

I think the result is rather better than I would have expected using a Nikon, thanks to the stabilisation of the OM body. And I would probably only have been carrying a lens with a maximum focal length of 200mm, so would have had to crop to get a similar image, thus losing some of the advantage of the larger sensor. I think the autofocus is almost as good as the Nikon, close enough to show no real difference in speed, and face detection is sometimes a help. And as a final point, despite weighing half as much, the Olympus lens is I think a better performer.

As well as the Olympus, my second camera was a Fuji X-T1, with a 10-24mm lens (15-36 equiv) that is also a fine performer. It doesn’t have quite the advantage in size and weight over Nikon that the Olympus has, and the camera somehow feels a little less responsive. I bought it when I was hoping that a Fuji system could replace my Nikons, but now I’m more likely to move to Olympus, keeping a Nikon only for the larger file size when used with bellows and a macro lens for digitising negatives and slides.

As with most events showing solidarity with Palestine it was joined by several Jewish groups, including the ultra-orthodox Neturei Karta  and also opposed by a small group of Zionists. You can see pictures of both on My London Diary, along with coverage of the rally close to the BBC before the march. I left and went home before the rally at the end.

More pictures at National Demonstration for Palestine.

British Museum’s Stolen Goods

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019

Stolen Land – Stolen Culture – Stolen Climate‘ was the message on the banner carried by two people dressed as cartoon criminals in masks and striped jumpers for the unofficial tour of the British Museum by campaigners ‘BP or Not BP?’ callling for stolen cultural objects to be be returned to their countries of origin.

As in a previous tour by the campaigners, the event with indigenous Australian campaigner Rodney Kelly in front of the Gweagal shield, stolen from his ancestor by Captain Cook and his men when they arrived at Botany Bay, along with other shields and spears. His plea with the museum authorities that this shield be returned to its homeland to form the nucleus of a new museum there has so far fallen on deaf ears.

Danny Chivers of BP or Not BP? had introduced the event, explaining their campaign to end sponsorship of the British Museum and other cultural institutions by BP which they use to improve their image, with a great deal of positive publicity at relatively little cost. BP are one of the companies driving climate change and their operations in oil extraction around the world are highly polluting and dangerous to the environment as well as being accompanied by significant human rights abuses. Putting cash into exhibitions, concerts and opera performances helps to cover up their crimes.

After Kelly had spoken about his ancestors and their treatment and the failure of tbe British Museum to contemplate handing back the stolen objects, Samir Eskanda spoke about many objects which have been taken over the years from ‘biblical’ excavations in Palestine, but which are important to understanding the culture and history of Palestine and the Middle East and should be returned to museums there.

The crowd then moved on to the Assyrian galleries, where as well as the removal of cultural objects by excavations in the last century, the 2003 invasion of Iraq was accompanied by a huge amount of looting. Many of these looted objects have now been sold at auctions, particularly in the UK and US and are now in museum and private collections, despite objections from Iraq and Iraqi institutions.

Finally we all moved on to the gallery which contains the Parthenon (or Elgin) Marbles, bought from the Turkish occupiers of Athens by Lord Elgin, essentially looted items.

More pictures at British Museum Stolen Goods Tour.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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