Saturday 3rd January 2009, as tanks and troops massed on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip approximately two thousand people gathered in Glasgow to show their anger at and opposition to the Israeli bombing of the Palestinian people.
A diverse mix from most parts of the Glaswegian community gathered in Blythswood square for a demonstration hastily arranged by, amongst others, the Glasgow Palestinian Human Rights Campaign and the Glasgow Stop the War Coalition. A sizeable crowd had gathered and the march was ready to leave on time at 1p.m.
It was heartening to see such a diverse crowd with Celtic supporters marching alongside Palestinians and Scottish Jews for a Just Peace as well as the expected assortment of lefties.
The route of the march, as has come to be the norm in Glasgow, seemed designed to minimise any interaction the march may have had with Saturday shoppers. Starting as it did in Blythswood square and finishing hidden away in the Merchant City any and all dissent voiced by those on the march was castrated from the off.
This was a crying shame as the anger in the air was palpable and could be felt like an electric buzz as the crowd marched down back streets guided by the cops into a dead end of ineffectualness. This is why we should not negotiate with the police. They can not control the anger at what is happening in the middle east unless we allow them to!
The one success of the march was that it let people in Gaza know that there are those of us in Glasgow who feel for their plight and who want to do what it is we can to help.
After marching from a to b we headed home to avoid the inevitable speeches.
It was later on that evening that we heard that Israeli troops had moved into northern Gaza and that there was an emergency demo called for the next day outside Borders bookshop on Buchanan street; now here was a chance to actually be seen.
We gathered on Buchanan street from one o’clock where around twenty people covered in blood stained sheets lay on the floor in an attempt to bring home the reality of the situation in Gaza. The ‘dead’ were surrounded by around a hundred of us, not bad numbers considering the extreme short notice, with placards. Chants of ‘Free, Free Gaza’ ensued before activists from the Glasgow Palestinian Human Rights Campaign gave emotive reports from Gaza.
Unbelievably the Socialist Workers were attempting to sell books and newspapers to those gathered to express their anger. The depths that this party will stoop to never cease to amaze.
The crowd gathered and chanted and marched in circles around the ‘corpses’ on the floor. Unfortunately there was very little decent analysis, with the notable exception of the Jews for a Just Peace leaflet, on hand to inform passers by what was going on. The only analysis aside from this came in the form of the SWP punting a cut price copy of their Hamas supporting rag.
The rage around the world at what is going on in Gaza can only grow as the Israeli state continues to slaughter Palestinians.
With the growth in this anger there is a very real danger of the energy being misdirected into either racialising the issue into Jew=Nazi Arab=Saint or into simply marching from (hidden)point A to (hidden)point B. There are groups that will seek to cloud this issue for their own benefit or to poach themselves a few new members. We must beware of these groups.
The actions of the Israeli state are reprehensible and can not be defended in any way.
This does not however mean the anti-semitic groups like Hamas should be supported.
Demonstrations against this latest assault should be regular, they should be loud and they should not be stifled or hidden away by anyone!
With future demonstrations the Police will again attempt to make sure that they are hidden away from public view, heavens forbid that Glaswegians should be exposed to anything besides council approved ‘culture’.
As has been shown by the vibrant Smash-EDO campaign in Brighton there is no need to negotiate with the Police. The streets belong to us, not them! We shall make our voices heard!
Pics from the Sunday 4th Demo.