Peace for Gaza 2009
For those of you who weren’t on the march yesterday, I thought that it was a lot better than the march against the invasion of Lebanon back in 2006. There were still plenty of people with their narrow-minded religious chants, but not enough this time to make me actually leave the march. I don’t really have much to say about it; I still don’t think it’s going to achieve it’s purpose but nevertheless, it’s important for us all to show up.
As for the speakers…well, not much to be said. The whole “thank you, for the children” opening made me want to pull my hat down over my face. Galloway was a pillock. There were some worrying things said about turning the Israeli embassy into a Palestinian one. And once again, like the other marches, no one offered a way forward for the marchers. Another march perhaps, comrades? Storm parliament? The prospects for these things don’t seem great.
Yet it was important for people to be there on the march, and to hear the potential alternatives being argued for on stalls. There didn’t seem, to my mind, a speaker on the platform who was ready to clearly discuss the political situation facing the anti-war movement in Britain today. There was no attempt in all that I heard to seriously discuss what we need to do, to stop British arms exports to Israel, or of anything more than a bland assertion that capitalism is to blame.
That there was a lot of anger on the march yesterday has become almost a cliché. I have been watching videos of the events in Greece over the last few months and the anger yesterday was comparable. The actions of the police, justified or unjustified, probably didn’t help things either. But there is nowhere for that anger to go. It flares up, then there will be a ceasefire and things will die down again.
All the sects express the hope that they’ll recruit from these flare ups in resentment, and that’s a positive thing – but it doesn’t bring us any closer to actually having an effect on events. We marched in 2003, and war still happened. We marched in 2006 and Israel still led ground forces into Lebanon. Here we are, marching in 2009 and we have failed to realise that Israel budgets for us – its government knows that there will be a great international outcry and demonstrations around the world.
So it does what it has to, very quickly, and then signs a ceasefire on favourable terms. To the Israeli and the British governments, popular demonstrations are just something to be factored into the cost of doing business. How long can we continue to allow that?