Video footage below from Jude at the Oxford protest on Sunday 16 May 2021. Estimated 3,000 people attended.
Report from Jude – Sunday’s demonstration in Oxford was, by Oxford terms, enormous – more than 3000 people – and enormously diverse. Called by Help the World Oxford, a Muslim majority youth group, protestors came from across the city and beyond to march, chant, and give impassioned, but still carefully-considered speeches. All with the key central demands that the Israeli violent occupation of Palestine stop, and that the UK government and the University of Oxford (which accepts funding from several arms companies whose weapons are being used by the Israeli forces) stop facilitating it.
Both Palestinian and Israeli speakers gave personal stories of how the Nakba (lit. Catastrophe) in 1948 affected their families and continues to affect their lives. Roger McKenzie of Unison made a plea for Palestinian children to have the chance for the same aspirations as other children: they should want to grow up to be doctors, or lawyers, or carers; not simply hoping desperately that they will live to grow up at all. Jeremy Corbyn noted that the Palestinian population is one of the most educated in the world, but that unlike the population of Oxford, this education does nothing to prevent the daily humiliations of life in occupied territory. Jabu Nala-Hartley of Oxford and District Labour and long-standing activist in the city explained that having grown up in South Africa she knows well what Apartheid looks like and what it does to those who try to live under it.
The sense of solidarity and commitment of purpose at this demonstration was incredibly powerful. Alongside Help the World Oxford, Unison, and the local Labour party, groups represented included Oxford Unity, Black Live Matter Oxford, Unite, CWU, Mothers for Justice Ubuntu, Acorn Union, and, of course, Anti*Capitalist Resistance, but there were also many people not connected to an organising group, who came motivated simply by the need to be present, to show their solidarity with the Palestinian people and to call for the violence to stop. Repeated cries of ‘Free Free Palestine!’ and ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!’ rang throughout the streets, and Palestinian flags were waved both on the march and from the tops of buildings by young activists scaling scaffolding to make sure they were seen. Oxford stands with the Palestinian people. None of us are free until we are all free.
Jeremy Corbyn below speaking in London on Saturday.
A short report below from Rob at the Birmingham protest.
I looked outside today and thought do I really want to get a train all the way to Birmingham to stand in the rain?
I immediately felt ashamed. They are raining down hell on Gaza and the least I can do is turn up to show solidarity.
And I am bloody glad I did.
I got to Victoria Square 45 minutes early and there was just a lone man with a Palestinian flag.
I took shelter a while and the square began to fill. Ones and twos at first, then a few more but gradually it filled with people of all ages. Families and groups of friends. Cyclists For Palestine with their bikes.
All told, 800 strong, maybe a thousand.
A sea of homemade signs and placards- Sharpie scrawl on pizza boxes. Slogans and pleas for action, expressions of grief and anger which came as much from the heart as from the head and were all the more powerful for it.
And waving above: a surge of red-and-white-and-black-and-green flags.
A few speeches, a bit more rain, more speeches…
And then the static rally became a march. Planned or spontaneous, I don’t know.
We left the square and the numbers seemed to have trebled. Two or three thousand on the march.
Down through New Street and into the pedestrianised area of the town centre. Chaotically, noisily filling the streets.
This movement felt new and elemental with all the anger, passion, creativity, and intransigence of Black Lives Matter or the Climate Strikes. Light-years away from the anaemic, performative ‘opposition’ of Starmer.
We turn left at the Bull Ring and head off down to Corporation Street stopping the traffic as we go. I don’t know where the fuck we are going but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here…
Rob M, Midlands ACR