Saturday, January 3

Gaza Demonstration Click for more info

Today I joined the Palestine Solidarity Campaign as well as many others in protesting against the terrible events occurring in Gaza.

I'm hardly the most political opinionated person. I find it easier to write about Islam or relationships than current affairs. This is partly because it all seems so obvious and after the usual commentary (and Facebook status updates) there doesn't really seem much else to say. Of course sometimes things need to be repeated by lots of people before they begin to carry weight, so I'm not criticising that; I guess I'm just too lazy to join in.

I haven't been to a protest this big since the massive Stop the War campaign a few years ago. Surprisingly (or perhaps not) I had met people there for whom this was the first - I remember my dad taking me to a Salman Rushdie one back in the late eighties. Although it was exciting, I didn't appreciate the gesture back then but now I'm glad that getting up and protesting isn't a new thing for me.

Having said that, there are still questions over the effectiveness of something like this. For some it was a bit of a social fad - not least myself: I first went with my neighbour and then met some friends once I got there, pretty much confirming the social aspect of the whole deal. It's quite funny actually - you know you know a lot of people when you keep bumping into them at a mass rally.

Protests like these also tend to serve as self-validation, as if spending a couple of hours (in the cold, admittedly) is enough to get us all off the hook. It's not.

Still protests are worth going - the 50,000 or so there today will not go unnoticed, especially if you multiply that number up to account for those who wanted to be there but couldn't make it. Yes there are precedents of these things being futile (and as we all got home we heard of Israeli ground forces entering Gaza), but it really is better than nothing.

The rally part of the protest was in Trafalgar Square. We had numerous speakers, each talking for no longer than five minutes, ensuring no one got bored or tired. Annie Lennox, Alexi Sayle, George Galloway, Tony Benn and other people not quite sexy enough for me to remember the names of all took the stage. I found it amusingly ironic when someone walked off in contempt when the Shia guest appeared.

I didn't stick around for the onward march to the Israeli embassy; this was fortunate as only the first 5,000 got that far.

Apparently there will be another chance to protest this weekend, so if you missed today's or will like to go again, then here's your chance to do so. It's kinda the lest we can do.


  1. > I found it amusingly ironic when someone walked off in contempt when the Shia guest appeared

    with friends like these who needs enemies..

  2. What interests me more is what events get people out marching. I'm not sure marches have much to do with numbers killed, otherwise one has to wonder why there have been no such marches re. Darfur, or going back a bit during the genocide in Rwanda.

    Rather I think these recent marches have much to do with the Left and anti-Americanism.

  3. O,

    Absolutely. There is no doubt that protesting the Middle East happens to be a sexier interest than others. The organisers know this and are leveraging it.

    I guess the question is whether this should devalue the actions taken in this particular instance or not.