Birmingham poet Benjamin Zephaniah backs national demonstration for Palestine
Birmingham literary icon Benjamin Zephaniah will be in London this Saturday for the National Demonstration for Palestine, and has urged others to join him.
The famous poet and author is backing the national demonstration and is calling on people to attend in order to support Palestine and its people, especially in light of recent attacks on Gaza by the Israeli army.
Having been jointly organised by movements including the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and the Stop the War Coalition (StWUK), the aim of the march is to show solidarity with the Palestinian people, condemn their mistreatment by the Israeli army and government, and send a message to world leaders who decide on their fate.
In a promotional video for the event, Benjamin Zephaniah compared the Palestinian fight for freedom with that of South Africa.
“When I was young, there were two things that I really wanted to see; a free South Africa, and a free Palestine.
“South Africa is now free. It’s not perfect, but at least the South African people have the right to help shape the destiny of their country.
“But what about the Palestinian people? Their destiny will be decided by President Trump and the Israeli government.
“Well, it will if the world stands by and does nothing.”
Peaky Blinders actor Zephaniah then continues by speaking about the current situation regarding Palestine and its people, saying:
“Now, we all know that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law, but now the plan is to go even further and annex the settlements.
“They want to demolish Palestinian villages that have been inhabited for thousands of years, and they want to deny Palestinian refugees the right to return.
“Clearly this is illegal, corrupt, immoral, and will affect Palestinians for generations to come.
“Trust me, the world does not need more stateless Palestinians, the world needs free Palestinians.”
The famous dub poet, known for his long-term support of the Palestinian cause, then goes on to call on viewers to join him in London to stand in solidarity with Palestine on Saturday.
“People will be taking to the streets all over the world to show solidarity with the Palestinian people, and to express outrage at what is happening to them.
“Please join us on May 11th at noon for our demonstration which starts at Portland Place, London.
“Personally, I really can’t believe that we need to do this after all these years, but the Palestinian people are desperate.
“I started by referring to the hard-won freedom of the South African people, but Nelson Mandela made it absolutely clear, he said: ‘we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.’
“‘We’ is all of us. So, please join us. Come make some noise for Palestine. Let us come together as one and send a message to Trump and Netanyahu. Let us tell them that whatever they do in the dark, will be revealed in the light. Let them know that the world is watching.
“Come on, join us. Shalom, salaam, peace.”
The famous Rastafarian, political activist and ardent vegan – who is a supporter of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement – will be joining the march in the capital, and is expected to speak alongside prominent supporters of peace in Palestine.
People from across the country are expected to attend the demonstration, which begins in Portland Place, outside the BBC studios in London before making thier way to Whitehall.
The march and rally has been called by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign UK with support from Friends of Al Aqsa, Stop the War Coalition, Muslim Association of Britain and the Palestinian Forum in Britain (PFB). Numerous community groups, trade unions and political organisations are expected to join the mass demonstration too.
According to demonstration organisers: “The Palestinian people need our solidarity more than ever, and are calling for global protests to protect their collective rights.
“As Israel continues to flout international law and violate human rights, there is a responsibility on the global community to hold it to account and push for an end to the oppression of the Palestinian people.”
Birmingham organisers have arranged two main coaches to head to the event, which will leave at around 8am; one from outside Carrs Lane Church in the city centre and another from outside the Birmingham Central Mosque in Highgate.
Local figures including Cllr Waseem Zaffar, Cllr Mariam Khan, former International Development Secretary Clare Short, activist Salma Yaqoob, and Richard Burden MP have taken part in previous pro-Palestine rallies in Birmingham and London.
The pre-planned protest comes in the wake of fresh hostilities in the Gaza Strip, after violence flared up during a protest against the blockade of Gaza.
Israeli military aggression towards Palestinian protesters resulted in militants launching rockets into Israeli air space, prompting retaliatory air and artillery strikes from the Israeli army. At least four Israelis and 25 Palestinians were killed, including a woman and her 14-month-old niece, according to reports.
The Gaza health ministry says civilians, including a 12-year-old boy and two pregnant women, were also among those reportedly killed.
Take to the streets & show solidarity with the Palestinian people on May 11. Support their rights to freedom, justice, equality, & the right to live in Peace. Join the Anti Apartheid movement. https://t.co/BLth3LuAWi #ExistResistReturn @PSCupdates pic.twitter.com/29e8t9oLke
— Professor Benjamin Zephaniah (@BZephaniah) April 29, 2019
In Israel, casualties include a 58-year-old man who died from injuries after a rocket struck a house in Ashkelon, a 67-year-old killed when his car was reportedly struck by an anti-tank missile, and a 21-year-old killed in the southern city of Ashdod.
The recent attacks and counter-attacks have been described as the largest surges in violence since the summer of 2014, when Israel launched a ground offensive on Gaza as a response to the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers.
According to the UN, the conflict reportedly resulted in the death of 2,251 people, including 1,462 civilians, on the Palestinian side during the seven-week conflict; and the death of 67 Israeli soldiers.
Watch Benjamin Zephaniah’s video message below:
The National Demonstration for Palestine takes place on Saturday 11th May in London from 12pm. More details can be found on Facebook here. Birmingham coach information can be found via the BStWC group here.