Brighton Expresses its Support for Demonstration calling for a Council Boycott and Divestment from Israel

Brighton Expresses its Support for Demonstration calling for a Council Boycott and Divestment from Israel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Post-Blog

Israel’s War Crimes Shows Its Utter Contempt for
International Law

On a sunny Sunday lunchtime, some 250-300 people rallied
outside Brighton Town Hall to listen to speeches and a march to Hove Town Hall.
The occasion was the launch of a campaign to persuade Brighton & Hove
Council, the first in the country controlled by a (minority) Green Party
administration to institute a boycott of Israel.  Proposed by Cllr. Ben Duncan, who was forced
to resign from the Green Party for calling the British Army ‘hired killers’
(what else are they? social workers?) Ben has been one of the few
Green Party councillors (now an Independent) to remain committed to direct
action. However it is difficult to see the Labour or Tory groups supporting the
proposal, which is due to come to the Council in October. Ben was also the
second speaker at the march.

The best speech was also the first speech, by Canon Paul
Ostreicher, a refugee from Germany in 1938 because of his Jewish heritage. Paul
has devoted his life to fighting for peace (a non-sequitur!) being Chair of British
Amnesty, expelled from the Church Peace Council for criticisms of the Soviet
Union among his other notable achievements. He was ordained as a Deacon in St
Paul’s Cathedral in 1959 and retired as canon of Coventry Cathedral in 1998. He
now lives in Brighton and made a fiery speech pointing out that the ANC and all
liberation movements were called ‘terrorist’ and defending the right of any
oppressed people to take up arms.

The march was a local one but despite that was larger than
the Zionist one last week which was a national one. At Hove Town Hall we
listened to more speeches, including one from the local PSC Secretary Barry,
before dispersing. Some people joined PSC members in taking part in an action against
the Robert Dyas shop in nearby George Street, Hove which stocks Sodastream
products. Barry laid heavy emphasis on our victory in closing the Sodastream
shop in Brighton, despite a vigorous Zionist campaign to keep it open.

Just a couple of criticisms or observations. Although the
demonstration was a healthy size, it was smaller than past demonstrations on
Gaza. Last time, during Operation Cast Lead 1,500 people marched through Brighton.
The missing factor was members of the local Arab and Muslim community. This was
an omission that needs to be rectified. PSC has always been able to tap into
existing networks of Palestinians and Arabs and we need to think carefully
about why that didn’t happen this time.

Secondly, despite having a Jewish Chair, Mike W, there was no speaker from a Jewish anti-Zionist or even non-Zionist organisation,
again for the first time I can remember. At a time when Israel claims its
actions are on behalf of all Jews everywhere this is an important omission and
should not be the subject of sectarianism. One of the main features of recent demonstrations
nationally have been the presence of a large Jewish bloc and we know from the
Sodastream demonstration that the Zionists find it difficult to explain away
the existence of Jewish opponents. I’m thinking of groups like Jews 4 a Just
Peace for Palestinians, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods and the Jewish anti-Zionist
Network. This is at a time when British Jews are showing that they are not
interested in rallies supporting Israel’s barbarities. For the first time ever,
the Zionist Board of Deputies of British Jews has not even attempted to
organise a ‘rally in support of Israel’. Last time just 5,000 answered the call
unlike in previous years when up to 25,000 turned out.

End EDO,  Brighton’s Arms Factory, speaker

However overall the energy and commitment of those who did
turn out for the demonstration was commendable and if Israel’s attacks continue
and intensify we need to seriously consider a major demonstration on a Saturday.
Tony Greenstein

Brighton Town Hall

 

 

 

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