Saturday, August 05, 2006
Have a look at the start of the demo:
I did a lot of swinging from lampposts on top of fences and pillar boxes to get a half-decent angle, and it occurred to me at some perilous moments that you could really live with the worm's eye view. Never mind. Here are some Hezbollah members:
Got to love that: a little girl and an old lady, banging the drum for the Lebanese resistance.
Why not have a look at some video footage?:
And some more here and here. This and this outside the US embassy.
Some more pictures:
As you can see and hear, it got a little bit noisy outside the US embassy. Going up Piccadilly:
And some more footage:
These kids were natural performers:
And we arrive at Downing Street, where it begins to get exceptionally loud:
More here, here, here and here. It's only fair to mention that at this point, they started to bring in back ups. Three cop vans pulled up, were sent behind the steel barriers, and disgorged their troops. What, I had to wonder a few times, was the point of bullet-proof jackets? In the blazing heat, the same heat that turned my face, neck and arms into lobster shells, these morons were charging about, fully kitted up as if they confidently expected us to - I dunno - start pulling out guns or something. Their loss.
Anyway, here's more pics:
The speeches, broadcast from some point in Parliament Square that I faintly made out, were generally good. I have to mention that Craig Murray in particular made a brilliant speech. I caught only the very start of it here because my camera was running out of memory. He took particular care to slam those who were busily assisting the bombing of Israel while denouncing Hezbollah for what little retaliatory strikes it could muster. And, like the best speakers, he bigged up the crowd: "I can see hope. You can't see yourselves," he said, "but I can see you stretch all the way back up Whitehall to Trafalgar Square. People of every religion and ethnicity, a genuine sample of modern Britain." The chap from the recently slandered Interpal, whose name I didn't catch, made a rousing speech, particularly denouncing the Arab governments that had not only failed to denounce Israeli aggression, but had actually climbed into bed with Tel Aviv. George Galloway went on, in one of his better lines, to scorn the "belly-dancing" regimes. He said, in a strange riff from Neil Kinnock: "if Israel, America and Britain succeed, I warn you not to be Iranian, I warn you not to be Syrian, I warn you not to be a Palestinian, I warn you not to be Iraqi ... but if they lose tomorrow, I warn you not to be Mubarak, or Abdullah or the King of Saudi Arabia." Professor Manuel Hassassian, who would if Palestine was allowed an embassy, be that country's ambassador to Britain, was particularly well-received. He touched fairly forcefully on the irony of neoconservatives pretending to support democracy in the Middle East while working to crush two democratic governments and two democratic movements. He mentioned, as Galloway did, that Hezbollah is not a terrorist organisation. He was, in general, a splendid orator and an incisive commentator. Hassassian, it has to be noted, is a political rival to Hamas, but he didn't spare any criticism of those who vilify Hamas, and starve and bomb the Palestinians while they are doing it. John Rees was also good, pressing home the point that this war was dreamed up in Washington, planned in Washington and offered to Tel Aviv by Washington. This is the same as the war on Iraq, the same as the war on Palestine. Lindsey German, who is always well received at these events, got kudos for this: "I don't agree with the politics of the Iranian regime, or the Syrian regime or Hamas or Hezbollah - but when I see what's happening, and who they're up against, I know whose side I'm on. People say to me 'well, there are two sides to this'. Yes, there are. On one side, there is a country being invaded and bombed, and its people are being killed. On the other side is the country doing the invading and bombing and killing." John McDonnell and Diane Abbott did their bit for the Labour left, such as it is. It was good to see them there. Jeremy Hardy made a rather sweet speech about recognising our common humanity, and how he hopes for a secular Middle East and such. Mark Serwotka turned up on behalf of the PCS to support the demonstration.
I don't want to spoil the atmosphere of general camaraderie by criticising anyone or anything, but this needs to be said. When Darren Johnson said how ashamed he was that Britain was apart from the international community, there were too many polite claps. I like the guy, but this shit needs to be dropped. There is no international community, and it's a myth that states other than the US, UK and Israel are especially concerned about what is happening. The EU has been at the forefront of starving Palestinians, and recently refused to pass a resolution - a mere fucking resolution - calling for an immediate ceasefire. Many of the local regimes, which have more to lose here, have been siding with Israel. Australia's Prime Minister has been characteristically 'understanding' of Israel's predicament. Where the fuck is this 'international community'? The 'international community' is a euphemism for a loose confederation of rich and powerful states expressed in various blocs at the UN, World Trade Organisation and elsewhere.
Anyway. I gave it a rest at 5pm: there were still people piling down Whitehall. 20,000 my infernal arse. Nice try, however.
PS: Ellis Sharp has more on the demo.
Socialist Worker has some excellent footage and pictures.