‘UK must stop funding the Israeli terrorist state’ – Hyde Park rally told

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The 200,000-strong march for Palestine sets off up Whitehall

The first speaker at the rally in Hyde Park was Lujain Abdullah from the Palestinian Forum in Britain, who said: ‘It’s the 29th week of genocide in Gaza and it’s our duty to be here today to speak up for Palestine. the government must be made to stop funding the terrorist state and stop allowing the manufacturers of genocide to operate on our soil.

‘The students in the USA are growing up as revolutionaries. The Zionist regime is the most evil that ever existed. We will only stop the genocide when Zionism ceases to exist and we have liberated Palestine.’

Apsana Begum, Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse, said: ‘There is no doubt that there is blatant disregard for the international law by Israel. Palestinian civilians are besieged in dire conditions. How many Palestinians were slaughtered with British made weapons? What is this government’s price tag for humanity? Arming Israel is unforgivable.’

Stop the War Coalition Convener Lindsey German said: ‘204 days, 108,000 dead or injured, mass graves with people with their hands tied behind their backs, 26 billion more dollars voted by the US for for Israel this week.

‘In the UK military spending to go up to two and a half per cent of everything produced and we heard this morning that British troops are going to Gaza to keep the peace. What could possibly go wrong? Meanwhile, students are being beaten up by police in the USA, Germany and here too.’

Ireland First Minister and Sinn Fein Vice President Michelle O’Neill said: ‘Ireland stands with Gaza. Mass graves are being discovered. This is genocide!

‘We in Ireland support Palestine. We have a shared experience of occupation. Ireland knows famine. We demand an immediate, complete and unconditional ceasefire. Israel forces must leave Gaza and the West Bank.

‘Bonds between Ireland and Palestine are unbreakable. Gaza will endure, the West Bank will endure, Palestine will be free.’

Husam Zomlot, Palestinian ambassador to the UK, said: ‘More than 200 days of genocide, murdering and maiming over 100,000 people, 14,500 children killed, mass murder, children starving, dying of malnutrition in tents in Gaza where there is a heatwave.

‘What are the governments doing? Nothing, no ceasefire, no sanctions, no arms embargo. Genocide is not self-defence. Politicians must be careful. The wheels of justice are turning, change is coming, countries are taking action for Palestine – Nicaragua, Jamaica, South Africa.

‘Most of all, change is coming from you, marching and fighting and acting for Palestine. Join me in applauding the proud students of all the universities in the USA and all over the world. Change will come campus by campus, city by city, country by country. This is Palestine’s moment for global justice. Occupation or liberation? This is the moment in history.

‘Your children and grandchildren will ask you where did you stand and you will answer “for Palestine”. Raise your voice louder, raise the Palestinian flag higher, and march with us towards a free Palestine NOW!’

Irish MEP Clare Daly said: ‘We are here demanding with one voice an arms embargo and justice for Palestine. There is unspeakable cruelty which has been carried out for seven months and the only reason it’s continued is because it is supported by genocide Joe Biden, the EU lady, and Sunak the slaughterer.

‘We can see you for the imperialists that you are and your time is up! How come Margaret Thatcher could impose an arms embargo on Israel and Keir Starmer won’t even call for it?’

Dr Ismail Patel, Founder of Friends of Al-Aqsa, said: ‘Israel has live-streamed genocide. It must not go unpunished. We must learn and learn fast. Boycott, divest, sanction. Throw Israel out of the Olympics, expel Israel from the UN, remove all charitable status from companies that support genocide. Restore funding to UNRWA.

‘Israel, supported by the UK, has made Gaza not just a graveyard for people but also for international institutions and domestic rights.

‘When we say “we are all Palestinians” the reason we say it is because we embody the Palestinian resistance and because we are born in a revolution.’

Holocaust survivor Stephen Kapos was cheered when he came on stage with three members of three generations of his family. He said: ‘I was seven years old when the Holocaust reached my home town in Budapest in Hungary. There were 400,000 deported to Auschwitz. 15 members of my family perished. We all had to wear the yellow star. We Jews who experienced these horrors are against Zionism.

‘Those who say anti-Zionism is antisemitism are wrong and so are those who claim they that these marches are hate marches against Jews. It is untrue, it is incorrect, it is a lie. The opposite is truth. These marches are safe for Jews. I’ve been on all of them and we are always warmly welcomed.’

Libby Nolan, Unison president, said: ‘The student uprisings for Palestine are like in 1968, with the students showing their bravery and it’s a disgrace from the university bosses that they are more outraged by students than by Israeli genocide. 400 bodies have been found outside Nasser hospital, some with the hands tied behind their back.

‘This is a trade union moment. The unions must take action to stop arming Israel. Unison demands the British government ceases arming Israel, the trade union movement must do more. We must put more pressure on the British government to stop arming Israel.’

Juliet Stephenson, actor and Equity member, said: ‘I must read a poem by Refaat Alereer, poet and professor of literature at the Islamic University in Gaza. He had been receiving death threats and he wrote a poem If I Must Die and he was killed in December. It was a message from Refaat to his daughter Shaima. I’m reading it today because Shaima was killed in an Israeli airstrike yesterday, along with her husband and newborn baby.

‘If I must die, you must live to tell my story to sell my things to buy a piece of cloth and some strings, (make it white with a long tail) so that a child, somewhere in Gaza while looking heaven in the eye awaiting his dad who left in a blaze – and bid no one farewell not even to his flesh not even to himself – sees the kite, my kite you made, flying up above and thinks for a moment an angel is there bringing back love. If I must die let it bring hope let it be a tale.’

Jeremy Corbyn MP said: ‘This Tory government is trying to ban demonstrations, ban marches. I saw a picture last night of a sniper on a tall building aiming at a university campus in the USA. My mind went back to Kent State University where they killed four students and injured nine others in 1970 for protesting against the Vietnam War.

‘I say to the students in the USA we are with you. We are also with the people of Palestine. There is a terrible new acronym in Gaza – wcnsf – wounded child no surviving family. 34,000 have died in Palestine and 100,000 injured and Britain is still supplying. This is a movement for Global Justice. Stop the arms trade with Israel.’

TSSA General Secretary Maryam Eslamdoust said: ‘Transport workers stand in solidarity with Palestine. I’m Iranian and I remember the western supported weapons raining down on me in Iran. The west fears revolution. We Iranians liberated ourselves from western occupation. It’s a daily struggle. The Palestinians must have liberation. We will liberate ourselves and we will flourish.’

Gary Younge, journalist and author, said: ‘They have lied about us but our truth is stronger than their lies. We keep going and we will keep going. We march for freedom and liberation.’

CND Chairman Tom Unteerrainer, said: ‘After 34,000 deaths and counting the British government refuses to stop arming Israel. Our responsibility is clear, we will not stand by, we will hold those responsible for genocide and their enablers in Westminster to account. Stop arming, Israel stop the genocide, ceasefire now.’

Emma Rose, National Education Union President, said: ‘I know there are many, many teachers here today. As an education union we cannot stay silent when genocide is taking place. There is a new and terrible word – “scholasticide”. There is not a single school, college or university open in Gaza. This government is complicit. We cannot stay silent and stand by. Action is needed now for Gaza’s children.’

Mustafa Al-Dabbagh, of the Muslim Association of Britain said: ‘I pay tribute to the power and energy of the students and youth. Today we see the spirit of student activism around the world. There are those who want to ban our marches. But we will not be silenced. Let us boycott, divest and sanction.’

Na’amod speaker Emily Stevenson said: ‘There’s been a lot of noise about being “visibly Jewish”. Well we are here, proud to be here and we are proud to be visibly Jewish. It is our duty to stand with the people of Gaza. The only time I feel unsafe on these marches is when I see aggressive Zionists threatening me. They also attack me on line with their disgusting threats.’

Amer Zahr, Palestinian American comedian and author said: ‘They drop bombs, we drop babies. I must raise my voice as a Palestinian. We hate occupation. I’m honoured to be here with you, my fellow enemies of the state. In Palestine we have a square named after Nelson Mandela, in Israel they have a Balfour Square. Need I say more?’

The final speaker was Ben Jamal, Director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, who said: ‘This is our 13th march and is not a march fuelled by hate. We are unified in our opposition to racism and Zionism which claims that one people can have rights and another none. I have news, students at Warwick University right now have occupied their campuses and are demanding an end to the arming of Israel. Around Nasser and Al Shifa Hospitals Palestinians are being exhumed with their hands tied behind their backs. This is evidence of clear war crimes.

‘We will not stop marching, we will not stop fighting, we will be holding another National March for Palestine on 18th May.’

Following the speeches a rapping group, a Palestinian musical collective called 47 Soul introduced themselves, saying: ‘We came here from Palestine from families of martyrdom and administrative detention and we are very grateful and proud to be here today,’ before performing several great numbers which got the crowd dancing and cheering.