Sometimes, I must admit, and in what I consider to be very depressing times, it seems I need my faith renewing in the human race, and with it the capacity to reach out with compassion and empathy to others who are suffering unimaginable and very real horrors at the hands of other human beings in this world, such as it is today.
We all must have them moments of weakness, them blackouts of despair, the complete loss and absence of hope. But you know, then something extraordinary and remarkable happens across the world, when hands start to reach out, across continents, in the darkness and into the daylight, over the hills and the great mountains of mother earth, crossing vast oceans as if parting the waters, as thousands if not millions have joined together in condemning the murder, the murderess darkness of this slaughter and the genocide of the Zionist Israeli state.
For the second week in succession, I managed to join Saturdays London demonstration for Gaza and Palestine, so glad I did and what a magnificent show of solidarity it was and for the second week in a row, this truly dispatching any doubting thoughts that I may have had and renewing my faith in the human race.
The march was organised in only five days, called by Stop the War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Friends of Al Aqsa, British Muslim Initiative, Muslim Association of Britain, Palestinian Forum in Britain, and it started from the Israeli Embassy and marched through London to a rally which was held in Parliament Square.
I had been preparing my body and mind for this march all week and planned to cycle from my home in Canning Town to the Embassy which I did in two hours at a steady pace, it was such a lovely morning and I had taken a pack-up and plenty of cold water with me, which I had frozen overnight in my fridge, the ride was really lovely and when I arrived thousands of people had already amassed outside the Israeli embassy chanting in such volume, how could anyone not hear it inside.
The appearance and cool refreshing atmosphere was breath taking and welcome, looking around I took note of banners on parade and assembled, there was the International Zionist Network, Global Women's Strike, with the lead banners of Stop the War, Palestine Solidarity Campaign and CND to name but a few. But it was the home made placards and banners that interested me the most, precisely one that said ‘killing is not the answer’ and another that made the call to ‘legalise peace’.
I didn't think it too hot or uncomfortable and still the banners and people kept on arriving, I knew this was going to be big and as impressive as the week before when 100,000 took to the London streets and I would say that the same number had turned out again chanting messages of renewed solidarity, they simply are never going to flicker out or end.
When the march moved off we headed into Knightsbridge the exclusive residential and retail district in central London, south of Hyde Park. Knightsbridge is home to many expensive shops, including the department stores Harrods and Harvey Nichols, don’t think I would be able to afford anything from them stores or would I want anything from them I thought to myself as we passed on by, it was here that I spotted two other banners one said ‘Israel is the real terrorism’ and the other ‘Israel watch out we are coming for you’. As we marched on through I noticed the England football team coach stuck in the traffic, I asked the driver whose window was open if this was the official team transport and he said it was, I think the team must have been visiting a casino we passed, for a punt on the roulette table.
On towards Marble Arch and then down towards and past the Ritz Hotel in the heart of Piccadilly as the thousands of us made our way, it was here that I noticed people on the pavements were starting to applaud the march which was still vigorous and energetic in voice, ‘free, free Palestine’ echoing all around.
As the march swung around and passing the column of one eyed Nelson, entering Whitehall the palace and home to our rulers, we went by Downing Street currently residence to the utterly incompetent David Cameron, with a substantial police presence fenced in by a two tier barricade even though Thatcher’s gates stood behind them with police guns and firearms.
I had been at the front of the march for most of the time and on arriving in Parliament Square found a position to observe the length of the march, it took 50 minutes to enter the square form start to finish that is some size and volume of people many of whom had turned up for the second week in succession and I say well done to all of them.
The brutal Israeli bombing of Gaza is provoking increasing opposition and revulsion, sparking a series of protests around the world and in London we held one of the largest protests in the world, But large protests were also held in India, Korea, Indonesia, Spain, Ireland, and many other countries. In the United States, 2,000-3,000 people rallied in New York City’s Times Square and in Chicago a demonstration on Saturday night was attended by more than 10,000 people, which gave me an idea why not hold a demonstration in the evening for a change?
Cities and towns that held protests on the same day as London included Birmingham, Bradford, Brighton, Cambridge, Cardiff, Doncaster, Edinburgh, Hastings, Hebden Bridge, Lancaster, Leicester, Lincoln, Liverpool, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Oxford, Peterborough, Preston, Salisbury, Sheffield, Southampton, Stroud.
Across Britain we can be proud that so many of us have answered the call, defend Gaza, defend Palestine, defend the people, defend the children - A start has been made but we have much more to do, every day must be a day of activity, we can build the boycott of Israeli goods and products, we can and must use every opportunity to talk to as many people as is humanly possible, because our message is hitting home...
This my account of Saturday's Gaza Demonstration now we must build on it!