From River to Sea: Palestinian Struggle Inspires Cross‑Community Solidarity

The daughter of a Palestinian refugee, Nadia Amara, and a Jewish anti-Zionist, Roland Rance, spoke to several hundred people gathered in Walthamstow Town Square on 5 November to condemn the Israeli attack on Gaza and to demand an immediate ceasefire. Their powerful speeches linked the Palestinian cause to intersecting struggles against colonialism, racism, and apartheid in a visionary call for human rights and freedom "from the river to the sea."


As the daughter of a Palestinian refugee denied return after 1948, Nadia Amara brings an intimate perspective to the struggle for Palestinian rights. She was a member of the editorial board of the radical Middle Eastern revolutionary journal Khamsin in the 1980s. Nadia’s speech highlights two core themes: framing Palestine as an anti-colonial struggle for global racial justice and emphasising the need for UK accountability. She connects domestic activism to international solidarity. Nadia embodies the resilience and vision of the Palestinian people. Her words reflect a lifetime of grappling with exile and fighting for the right to Palestinian self-determination. Her speech this weekend encapsulates the struggle—past, present, and future.

Nadia Amara (left) and Roland Rance (second from right) with the banner of East London Unite Community’s Lydd-London Solidarity Group.

Recent weeks have witnessed the huge extent of support for justice for Palestine throughout the world. That includes in this country, the birthplace of the Zionist project, where the 106th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration was celebrated this week.

Last week’s demonstration of half a million people in central London sent a strong message to politicians, and this week we are here to deliver that message locally, to tell our politicians that they are failing to represent us. Many of us have written to MPs and councillors for Waltham Forest, so they are in no doubt about how we feel, but we are not seeing that reflected in their conduct in parliament. The only means of communication left to us is the ballot box. We should not waste energy trying to persuade or ‘pressurise’ our MPs and councillors. Rather, we need to simply tell them that they are not earning our votes. And if they do not represent our views, which they definitely don’t at present, we must seriously ask ourselves whether they deserve our votes.

The media is telling us that the Labour Party is going to suffer a great loss of votes in the upcoming general election from Muslim and other minority communities. The recent shameless behaviour of the party leader, Kier Starmer, on his visit to that mosque in South Wales shows exactly why this is the case. The reality, in spite of mythologized narratives of antisemitism, is that the racism embedded in the main political parties of this country, including the Labour Party, is Islamophobia—and the enduring racism against communities of the African diaspora. The Labour Party has taken many of us for granted. They have assumed that not being Tory is enough to ensure the votes of minority communities, of socialists, and of all others who care about justice and equality—and that is a lot of people in Waltham Forest. We should be asking ourselves how different from the Tories the Labour Party actually is. And locally, we should be giving very careful consideration to the records of our local MPs. Do they deserve our votes? Have they earned our votes? Or do they just take minority communities and the left for granted?

It is a truism that the struggle of Palestinians is against colonialism, against appropriation, against dispossession, against occupation, against brutality, and against strategic unempowerment. A critical aim of colonialism is the eradication of the identity of the colonised people.

And when colonised people assert their identity, when they make their voices heard, when they find the confidence and empowerment to challenge their oppression, the response of colonialism is to criminalise them, such as by labelling them as terrorists. And we need to remember that colonialism is not confined to the colonised territory. Britain is one of the richest and most influential countries in the world. Its wealth was created on the backs of colonised people, and colonialism is deeply embedded in the culture of this country.

When the world sees the flag of Palestine, they see an identity that will not go away, and throughout October around the world and throughout this country, they have heard a voice that will not be silenced. So, it is no surprise that the response of the British state is to criminalise it. And when they hear the Palestinian identity expressed in the slogan ‘from the river to the sea’, they try to criminalise that. This is the colonising mindset of the British establishment, which evolved out of the brutal perpetration of the enforced African diaspora and the culture of the slave plantation.

However, while the government endeavours to deny us the right to free speech, the colonisers are equally preoccupied with the same phrase that they try to deny us. It is a long-term ambition of Zionism. A colony from the river to the sea is in the process of being realised, aided by our government, amongst others. Illegal settlements, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing are all strategies to achieve this, and they have escalated massively in recent weeks.

The use of the term ‘ethnic cleansing’ is apparently contentious. But what else can be deducted from the war on Gaza? The world looks on while institutions vital to saving lives and providing safe shelter, such as hospitals and schools, are destroyed, whole families are eradicated, and countless children are killed daily. What better strategy could be devised for ethnic cleansing than the removal of all children who form the next generation?

We have spent three weeks chanting ‘Blood on their hands’ to the leaders of government. We are gathered today to bring that message to Waltham Forest: every politician who refuses to call for a ceasefire and who talks of the colonisers’ ‘right to defend themselves’ against the people they have colonised also has blood on their hands.

And so I leave you with the question, ‘Do they deserve our votes?’

Finally, Rada Daniel, a comrade from Waltham Forest PSC1, is at this moment in Palestine, in the West Bank, where murder, dispossession, and other war crimes are also escalating and going almost unacknowledged by the media. This week, Rada sent us the following message: ‘”But what can I do? I am just one person”, said 7 billion people.’

Therefore, we urge everyone who can to return to central London next weekend. As the war escalates and our politicians enable and encourage Zionist brutality and war crimes, we must keep up the momentum of our campaign.

Roland Rance, a member of Anti*Capitalist Resistance, delivered this address on behalf of the East London Unite Community branch. As a Jewish activist, Roland powerfully condemns Israel’s actions against Palestinians, declaring they do not act in his name. He details East London Unite Community’s solidarity efforts, including developing ties with the Palestinian community in Lydd and planning exchange visits. Roland calls for an immediate ceasefire and an end to the siege in Gaza, framing the current violence as a tragic continuation of the Nakba. His speech highlights ongoing racist policies within Israel itself, complicating notions of democracy. By mobilising trade unionists and forging direct connections between British and Palestinian communities, Roland models meaningful solidarity rooted in anti-racism, human rights, and collective liberation.

I am speaking here today on behalf of the East London Unite Community. But I am also speaking as “the wrong kind of Jew”. Across the world, tens of thousands of Jews are standing up in support of Palestinian rights. We are determined to say that Israel does not act in our name, and we are damned if we are going to allow Israel to hijack the name and reputation of Jews across the world. Israel is committing war crimes, and it is not in our name.

East London Unite Community stands in solidarity with the people of Gaza and with all the people of Palestine in their resistance to the war crimes committed by the genocidal and apartheid Israeli state. We watch with horror and outrage the daily scenes of carnage broadcast, despite Israel’s best efforts at censorship, on screens across the world. What we see unfolding in Gaza today is a second Nakba—the forcible uprooting and expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes and their country, amidst mass slaughter and terror.

No excuse or special plea can justify this crime against humanity. The massacre by Hamas militants of hundreds of Israeli civilians on October 7 was deplorable, but it certainly does not justify this war against an entire people, half of whom are children. And we must remember that this attack did not occur in a vacuum. It is the tragic outcome of a history of 75 years of ethnic cleansing and sixteen years of almost total siege and blockade. We demand Stop the Bombing and Lift the Siege Now!

At the same time as the war on Gaza, but with much less coverage, Israeli forces and settlers are conducting a war against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. Over 100 Palestinian civilians have been killed, and more than a thousand have been evicted from their homes. Several villages have been totally ethnically cleansed, and new illegal Israeli settlements are planned to replace them. In the West Bank, too, a second Nakba is being prepared.

This is why we have proudly carried our East London Unite Community banner on all of the recent demonstrations in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for liberation. We have been joined by banners of several other Unite Community branches and of the Unite London Region—but shamefully, not by that of the national union, which has only now, after a month of appalling suffering, managed to call for a ceasefire. At least, unlike the Labour Party, Unite has not tried to ban its members and officers from taking part in these demonstrations. We applaud Councillor Tom Connor for his courage in defying this diktat and addressing this rally to call for a ceasefire.

Demonstrations, even small local ones like this, are important. They are reported in Palestine, and people there know that across the world, in our thousands and our millions, we support Palestine and have not forgotten them.

But for us in ELUC, simply waving flags and issuing statements is not enough. A couple of years ago, we decided to establish direct links with the Palestinian community. After much discussion, we agreed to investigate linking with Palestinians inside the Israeli state itself. Although some 20% of the population of Israel is Palestinian, they are very much third- or fourth-class citizens, facing systematic racism and deprivation, everyday harassment by police and armed thugs, and entrenched political and cultural discrimination.
We are now working closely with Palestinians in the city of Lydd, a former Arab city, ethnically cleansed and the scene of a notorious massacre in 1948, and now euphemistically referred to as a “mixed city”, in which 25,000 Palestinians—30% of the city’s residents—live in an impoverished ghetto. Together with our Palestinian friends, we are working to expose the hollowness of Israel’s claim to be a democratic state, as well as assisting in raising money for the establishment of a much-needed youth and community centre for the city’s Palestinian residents. We plan to organise a visit to Walthamstow by activists from Lydd and hope that many of you will join us in welcoming and supporting them.

On behalf of East London Unite Community, thank you for organising this opportunity for the people of Walthamstow and around to express our solidarity with the Palestinian people and our aspiration for a future Middle East in which Palestinians and Israelis will be able to live in peace and justice in the region from the river to the sea.

End the siege of Gaza! Ceasefire Now!

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  1. Local Palestinian civil & human rights campaign based in Waltham Forest, London. ↩︎

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