Time to Speak up for Palestine!


“We know the Nakba is not just of Israel’s making. Behind every bullet, shell and bulldozer stands the political, economic, and military support of the elites of the world paid for by the United States and made in the United Kingdom”

By Arise Festival 2022

Despite the record heatwave sweeping the UK, Monday night’s Arise Festival event, ‘Time to Speak Up for Palestine’, saw hundreds gather online to join politicians, activists and trade unionists demanding justice for Palestine. You can read the report-back or watch it in full below:

WATCH: Time to speak up for Palestine – hosted by Arise Festival and Labour & Palestine on 18th July, 2022.

The event, hosted in partnership with Labour and Palestine, was chaired by Amy Smith, an Arise activists and one of the delegates who led the compositing of last year’s historic Labour Party Conference motion on Palestine.

Setting the framework for the meeting, Smith said that the intensification of Israeli aggression – including the attack on the Al Aqsa mosque, forced displacements of Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah, and murder of the journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh – meant that now was the time to step up solidarity.

The first speaker of the meeting, the MP for Streatham, Bell Ribeiro-Addy, stressed the importance of pressing our own government for action and pointed to the hypocrisy of Minister’s failure to recognise a state of Palestine. 

She said ‘they continue to say they’re in favour of a two state solution… but how can they be in favour of a two state solution when they won’t recognise one of them?’

‘Recognising Palestine’, she argued, ‘is a prerequisite of long lasting peace’.

Kim Johnson, MP for Liverpool Riverside, spoke next. She noted that it was Mandela day and  argued that, just as in South Africa, the Labour leadership needed to recognise the apartheid nature of the regime in Israel and occupied Palestine and abide by last year’s conference policy.   

She also criticised the lip-service paid by the international community to a two-state solution, saying that we are now witnessing the largest expulsion of people from their homes since 1967. She warned that ‘a modern day Nakba is unfolding in front of us’.

The next speaker, Yasmine Dar of Labour’s NEC, highlighted the moral importance of speaking up for Palestine – especially in the context of the 1948 UN Charter of Human Rights and the need to ensure, after the Second World War, that the same atrocities were never committed again.

She said, ‘we need to be loud and clear in our condemnation of the Israeli government’s violation of human rights’.

The Labour and Palestine speaker, Hugh Lanning, began his contribution by saying “we all know the world is flat and as Joe Biden says, ‘Israel is a democracy’”

He continued: ‘leaders like Biden and others can keep on believing that the world is flat but the reality is increasingly obvious’ and pointed to the escalation of violence by the Israeli government.

‘Our challenge in the Labour Party is that we don’t join the flat earthers’ and that we support the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions.

He concluded, ‘the world is not flat; Israel is not a democracy; and Palestine will be free!’

The fifth speaker, the Palestinian Ambassador Husam Zomlot, said ‘for there to be a rational system of justice it must be predicated on the principle that all actors are treated equally’

‘Israel has been allowed to ignore humanitarian law without any consequences’

Detailing the history of Palestinian oppression he criticised Biden who said ‘perhaps one day we will achieve our rights – one day we will in enjoy the same rights as others… in the meantime what are we supposed to do?’ 

‘One day isn’t good enough’, he said, ‘it has brought the world apartheid 2.0’

The next contribution, from Young Labour’s Lubaba Khalid, insisted on the need for action.

Emphasising the need for boycott, divestment and sanctions, she said ‘solidarity is a verb… We know the Nakba is not just of Israel’s making. Behind every bullet, shell and bulldozer stands the political, economic, and military support of the elites of the world, paid for by the United States and made in the United Kingdom’.

She described her own family background, telling the audience that 74 years after the Nakba her family remained refugees.

The final speaker, Louise Regan of both the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the National Education Union, emphasised the importance of Trade Union solidarity and the key role that delegations to Palestine can play.

She said ‘I’ve seen children being arrested, I’ve seen the military throw tear gas into playgrounds’ and highlighted the importance of these first-hand accounts in building the confidence of people to make the arguments.  

“On Trade Union delegations, we meet with families who have faced terrible things… and they welcome us into their homes and tell us their story… Often members get upset. On one of the visits, one of our members started crying… The man we were speaking to said ‘we thank you for your tears but we need your words. We have no voice; nobody tells our story’”

That’s why, in the words of Husam Zomlot, ‘Palestine is still the issue; it’s time to change the reality; it’s time to speak up, loud, clear, and relentless’ – it’s time to speak up for Palestine.

Featured image: Palestinian Flag

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