June 5th. 20 10 1.30 pm. And my first born child Clare and I step down from a bus outside the National Gallery in Princes Street Edinburgh in splendid sunshine. The square beside the N.G. is beginning to fill with the most colourful crowd of vibrant people I have seen for a long time. These people who are arriving in small groups are clearly an exotic bunch as they come from some far flung places such as Greece; Pakistan; Spain; Turkey and places from as far west as Glasgow; Paisley and Greenock. Lots are from Edinburgh of course as well as a large delegation from Leith who are as always ready to explain to you in a comradely fashion of course that that is Leith and not Edinburgh, ken eh?
As is always the case where large crowds gather the obligatory nomadic circus arrives as if by magic with them; buskers; newspaper sellers; ice cream vendors and fast food purveyors are everywhere adding to the growing genial ambience. What binds us collectively is that today we are all honorary Palestinians, people from different political parties; traditional antagonists eye each other cagily as we metaphorically rub shoulders together. One guy whom I had almost come to blows with at a recent election in Paisley Town Centre greeted me silently with a clenched fist salute and what was almost a smile playing on his lips, I of course reciprocated. Friendly Police on beautiful big playful horses with feet like big soup plates keep order as we prepare for the serious business of why we are here albeit in a friendly tone, which is to protest the Israeli slaughter of unarmed civilians who were trying to deliver aid to the besieged residents of the Gaza Strip.
I would not advocate violence against Israel; not because I’m a pacifist or because I am committed to non violence although I respect both positions; but because Israel is one the most heavily armed countries in the world and is on a constant war footing. Backed as it is by the biggest and most powerful military machine in history that of America, Israel is well nigh unbeatable in military terms. The very real fears about what Israel is capable of if facing defeat with its present blood soaked lunatic rulers with their finger on the nuclear trigger are horrifying but they can still be beaten.I have heard people say in the past that there is nothing that can be done against such odds, and I say that those who take that line were not in Edinburgh on Saturday. To be there in support of a just cause in the midst of such fantastic people was an inspiring experience; the strength one takes and the solidarity one feels is intoxicating and yes; it does give you strength to carry on the fight and that; among many other things is what such a demonstration sets out to do and this one did it and then some. I always think of these lines from Wordsworth on the French Revolution when I think of demonstrations and protests being made by ordinary people in their thousands “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven” unfortunately I aint young and I have health issues which mean I am now “cream crackered” but I shall return. I have been at this protesting lark for some time and I know a bit about it even if I do say so myself; to those who say we can’t win let me mention the following.
“Armies cannot stand against an idea whose time has come” (Leon Trotsky) having been a supporter of Palestinian rights and an enemy of Israel’s murderous and vicious Apartheid regime since the 19 60’s I can say that the pressure is building on Israel and it is at a level now that I have never seen before, now therefore is the time to step it up; the “idea whose time has come” is arriving at Israel’s door soon. The following are campaigns which I have been involved in, in my own humble way; they all had one thing in common, we were told in respect of each one that our cause was just but our goal unachievable.
Civil Rights in America – we won; Civil Rights in Ireland – we won; Vietnam – we won; Apartheid in South Africa – we won; Release Mandela – we won; The Poll Tax – we won and we can win freedom for Palestine as well; we can also put a stop to the rogue state of Israel and force it to behave like the rest of the civilized world and we must.
The answer is political pressure and a massive boycott of Israel and everything to do with that country. No more Israeli goods in Britain, no more sporting contact of any kind, no more trade, no more contact in education and science. It’s a long difficult journey but it can be done; you the decent people of the world; you who abhor racism; Apartheid and War crimes can do it; it’s time to play your part.
For those Zionists who claim to speak for the Jewish people and for all Israeli citizens I would like to relate the following delightful encounter. On boarding the train home I spotted 3 guys who had been at the rally one of whom had made a powerful speech and I sat with them. They were from an organisation called "Scottish Jews for a Just Peace" Jewish guys who are opposed to Israel's action and sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians it was a priviledge to meet and talk with them. You could not meet nicer people; they are hated by the Zionist organisations and are called things like 'self hating Jews' and worse but; these guys had a quite honest strength about them and believe me because I've taken on these Zionist characters they need it; my pleasure guys stick with it; you can hold your heads high.
This clourful looking wee guy wins the most original placard award for highlighting the stupidity of the blockade. The plant and the coloured word at the bottom is coriander which is banned from Gaza; honest it is.
The square at the National Gallery starts to fill up; can't you feel the excitement.
Young fit daughter Clare manages to leave the march dodge the Police officers; the Police horses and cars to take this from a vantage point across from the route; then make her way back to the crowd.