It was reckoned by the organisers that 200,000 turned up to the rally in support of Gaza which took place in London yesterday (11/1/2009). This was in contrast to last week’s gathering of around 40,000. The idea was to march on the Israeli Embassy, an idea that a few who looked as if they had come straight from Gaza took rather literally it seems. We marched under the Indian Workers’ Association, Birmingham Branch banner, one of many showing a spread of support of regions and interests across the UK. In Hyde Park celebrities Annie Lennox and Brian Eno spoke eloquently while Michael Rosen read a poem for the children of Gaza. Some children read the names of some who have died as a result of Israeli atrocities.
It was freezing as we stood waiting to move off. The group carrying our banner was augmented by Dr Jackie Chambers. Eventually we created a long banner waving procession spiced by a incidents along the route. There was Tony Bliar standing on a wall and attracting attention, mirth and comment. An extremely long peddle powered float forged its way ahead through the throng and someone carried out a ritual flag burning.
Our coach to Birmingham was due to leave at 4.00pm from Park Lane. Problem was that when we reached Kensington High Street the march halted. Speakers ahead we didn’t get to hear included George Galloway and Salma Yaqoob. The only thing for it was to escape down a side street. This was easier said than done since there appeared no obvious easy way round the blockage.
A minority had decided to take matters into their own hands attacking not only the gates of the Israeli Embassy but shop fronts along the route. How this contributes to support for beleagured Gazans defeats me, but I suppose the nature of violence is that it allows a pretext for delivering elsewhere however inappropriate.
As we trudged on our escape route a passing strange commented that we were in London “let Gazans die”. I thought that one of his former jobs might have been superintendent of gas chambers at Auschwitz.
Finally we reached Gloucester Road tube station. A solution was at hand so we could now reach our bu now exasperated driver back in Park Lane. Not so simple. A good proportion of the March had also arrived at Gloucerster Road and so there were long queues for tickets. I experimented with multiple tickets for the 8 or 9 of us who had somehow kept together. This was a partial success but I found I was still a couple of tickets short. There was nothing for it but to queue again. It was just a few stops to Hyde Park Corner and we took the exit directing us to Park Lane. By then I was disorientated and thinking the large arch to be Marble Arch took everyone down Piccadilly by Green Park. Arriving at Green Park Underground we realised our mistake. Quickly into taxis we eventually found that our coaches had not left as had been threatened. Here we are back in Brum a trifle exhausted but gratified that we were part of a burgeoning opposition to a continuing inhumanity.
Tailpiec. Interesting how coverage of the event was muted, apart from the violence in some of the press. On Sunday a rally in support of Israel got quite a bit. Is the kind of lopsidedness that a member of Jewish Voice for Piece feels about US politicians’ views?