Hundreds of Thousands Join London March to Demand ‘Cease-Fire Now’ in Gaza

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Original article by JAKE JOHNSON republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

People take part in the National March for Palestine in London on Saturday November 11, 2023.  (Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)

“In our thousands, in our millions, we are all Palestinians,” demonstrators chanted at Saturday’s march, described as one of the largest political protests in U.K. history.

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of London on Saturday to demand an immediate cease-fire in Gaza as Israeli forces ramped up their aerial and ground assault on the Palestinian enclave’s hospitals and other civilian infrastructure, intensifying the territory’s humanitarian crisis.

Described as one of the largest political demonstrations in U.K. history, the march moved ahead despite criticism from British Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Tory Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who suggested earlier in the week that the protest should have been banned by London police given that it coincided with Armistice Day. Braverman accused the police of giving favorable treatment to “pro-Palestinian mobs.”

“I am horrified by the tone, language, and incitement our own government is using to whip up hatred against its own citizens—citizens who are standing up in solidarity with the besieged and bombed citizens of Gaza,” British Army veteran and march participant Nadia Mitchell wrote for OpenDemocracy. “Personally, I cannot think of a more appropriate day to demand a cease-fire than on the day we remember the mother of all cease-fires, to remember and honor those who sacrificed their lives in pursuit of peace and an end to war.”

Some U.K. lawmakers, including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Labour MP John McDonnell, joined Saturday’s march alongside hundreds of thousands of peace activists, union members, and people of all faiths.

“In our thousands, in our millions, we are all Palestinians,” demonstrators chanted.

(Photo: Henry Nicholls/AFP via Getty Images)

Reuters reported that “police said far-right groups opposing the march were present in central London in ‘significant numbers,’ leading to skirmishes with officers near the Cenotaph war memorial, close to the Houses of Parliament and in Westminster.”

“Officers in riot gear sought to contain the far-right protesters, some of whom threw bottles at them, and police vehicles sped around the city to respond to reports of tensions in the streets,” the outlet added.

Participants in the mass demonstration, meanwhile, marched from London’s Hyde Park to the U.S. Embassy to protest the Biden administration’s unwavering military and political support for the Israeli government as the death toll in Gaza continues to climb.

The head of the World Health Organization told the United Nations Security Council on Friday that Israel’s bombing and siege are killing one child on average every 10 minutes in Gaza.

“Nowhere and no one is safe,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Mohammed Abu Mughaisib, deputy medical coordinator for Doctors Without Borders in Gaza, toldThe Washington Post on Saturday that hospitals in northern Gaza have become “a graveyard” due to mounting Israeli attacks.

Medical workers at al-Nasr pediatric hospital were forced to leave babies in incubators behind as they evacuated south, Abu Mughaisib said.

“The medical staff evacuated because of the shelling on the pediatric hospital, and they couldn’t save the babies to take them out, so they left five babies alone in the intensive care on the machines and the ventilators,” he told the newspaper. “That’s the situation: leaving babies now alone on the ventilators.”

(Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)

Saturday’s march was organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Stop the War Coalition, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and other advocacy groups.

“We march to call for an end to the indiscriminate bombing of civilians and a #CeasefireNOW,” PSC director Ben Jamal wrote on social media. “We march in respect of the rights of all to live in freedom and with dignity.”

The demonstration is part of a growing international movement supporting a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip as Western leaders, including Sunak and U.S. President Joe Biden, refuse to demand an end to Israel’s siege and relentless bombing campaign.

Earlier this week, as Israeli forces encircled northern Gaza, Biden told reporters that there is “no possibility” of a cease-fire. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly rejected a proposed five-day cease-fire in exchange for the release of some of the hostages held by Hamas.

(Photo: Henry Nicholls/AFP via Getty Images)

Video footage of Saturday’s march shows the streets of central London packed with demonstrators expressing solidarity with the people of Gaza and demanding an end to Israel’s assault, which began after a deadly Hamas-led attack in southern Israel last month.

An estimated 300,000 people took part in Saturday’s march, according to London authorities.

“This footage shows the true will of the British people,” wrote Ahmed Alnaouq, a London-based Palestinian journalist and co-founder of the nonprofit We Are Not Numbers. “Hundreds of thousands are protesting peacefully despite rounds of vicious smear campaigns and intimidation. “All say in one word: CEASE-FIRE NOW!”

Original article by JAKE JOHNSON republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Continue ReadingHundreds of Thousands Join London March to Demand ‘Cease-Fire Now’ in Gaza

Boris Johnson took no Covid updates during February 2020 half-term break

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Image of Tory idiot Boris Johnson
Lazy Tory idiot and former part-time UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Original article by Ruby Lott-Lavigna and finlay johnston republished from OpenDemocracy under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence.

Boris Johnson did not receive any updates about the escalating Covid crisis during a school half-term break just weeks before he announced the first lockdown.

The Covid inquiry today heard that over ten days between 14 February and 24 February 2020, the prime minister received no information from his staff, including from the two COBRA meetings that took place.

Johnson spent the break – during which parliament was in recess – at Chevening House, a grace-and-favour Kent mansion. He was labelled a “part-time prime minister” by then-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and accused of “sulking in a mansion” while coronavirus unfolded and large parts of the UK were devastated by flooding. Johnson insisted the government had been working “flat out”.

When asked today why he did not update the PM with any information on Covid, Johnson’s former parliamentary private secretary (PPS) Martin Reynolds said he “could not recall”.

Hugo Keith, chief counsel to the inquiry, told him: “There were no emails. There were no notes put in his red box. You don’t appear to have been in touch with him about coronavirus, or anybody else.”

“To what extent did you think to yourself we’ve got…emails about a viral pandemic coming our way? Why was nothing done in terms of keeping the prime minister in the loop in those ten days?” he asked.

Reynolds responded: “I cannot recall why and whether there was any urgent business to transact over that period with the PM.”

When asked whether it was because it was half-term, Reynolds said he was “happy to accept it was half-term”.

The day before the PM’s ten-day information blackout, a cabinet reshuffle had taken place that saw the resignation of chancellor Sajid Javid, who was replaced by Rishi Sunak.

By 27 February, the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies had discussed the “reasonable worst case scenario” in which 80% of the UK population became infected, with a 1% fatality rate – which would mean up to 500,000 deaths.

The PM’s top aide added he “probably should have done more” to keep the prime minister updated on the biggest crisis since the Second World War.

Reynolds agreed that “little had been done” between the middle of February and early March.

He also agreed that the ten-day gap in pandemic planning was an “untoward delay” which contributed to the virus being “out of control” by 13 March.

The inquiry continues.

Original article by Ruby Lott-Lavigna and finlay johnston republished from OpenDemocracy under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence.

Continue ReadingBoris Johnson took no Covid updates during February 2020 half-term break

A human catastrophe is unfolding in real time in the Middle East

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Palestinians inspect the ruins of Watan Tower destroyed in Israeli airstrikes in Gaza city, on October 8, 2023. Image by Wafa (Q2915969) in contract with a local company (APAimages) licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

On October 7, we witnessed the horror of the killing of 1,400 people in southern Israel, with almost 200 survivors taken hostage.

This deplorable attack has caused unimaginable agony for those who have lost loved ones, and enduring anguish for those longing to be reunited.

In response, the Israeli government and army swung into action and announced they would destroy Gaza, couched as a war against Hamas.

As it stands, over 3,000 Palestinians have been killed. This is on top of the thousands of Palestinians who have been killed over the past decade. Not only in Gaza but in the West Bank too. Total war seems to be the only policy in town.

Pleas for a ceasefire by neighbouring countries, the UN, and political leaders from the global South have been resolutely rejected by Israel.

Millions around the world are appalled by the killings of young Jewish people and the hostage taking in Negev, and are equally appalled by the bombs raining down on Gaza.

A human catastrophe is unfolding in real time on television, bodies strewn from hospitals and schools that innocent people assumed may provide at least a temporary haven from horror.

We will keep demonstrating as long as it takes to bring about an end to the indiscriminate killings. To bring about an end to the occupation. To bring about a just and lasting peace.

Jeremy Corbyn is MP for Islington North.

Continue ReadingA human catastrophe is unfolding in real time in the Middle East

Jeremy Corbyn: “I Condemn Violence Against All Civilians, Why Can’t Keir Starmer?”

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We should condemn the targeting of all civilian life, no matter who does it. That this is apparently controversial is testament to the depravity of a media and political class that shuts down, distorts and denounces calls for peace. The heinous attacks on civilians in Israel by Hamas were utterly deplorable.

This cannot justify the indiscriminate killing of Palestinians, who are paying a price for a crime they did not commit. All human life is equal. Why is it so difficult for our politicians to be consistent in this basic moral principle?

This is the question that many people in this country are asking when they express solidarity with the Palestinian people. They are not expressing support for Hamas. To deliberately conflate the two is a disgusting, cynical and chilling attempt to further erode our democratic rights, and wilfully ignores a very basic demand: to stop the killing of innocent people.

The global community has a responsibility to de-escalate this catastrophic situation. That means calling for an immediate ceasefire. That means the release of Israeli hostages. That means ending the siege of Gaza. And that means recognising the underlying roots of this tragic cycle of violence: the enduring occupation of the Palestinian people.

Continue ReadingJeremy Corbyn: “I Condemn Violence Against All Civilians, Why Can’t Keir Starmer?”

Unprecedented crises call for bold solutions

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Transformative politics and a renewed commitment to democracy are needed if we’re to build a more equal, sustainable and peaceful world, writes JEREMY CORBYN MP

Image of Jeremy Corbyn MP, former leader of the Labour Party
Jeremy Corbyn MP, former leader of the Labour Party

Devoid of solutions for the crises they have created, the Tories have resorted to punching down on the most marginalised people in our society.

Rishi Sunak’s speech was an equally spineless charade. Not a word on housing. Nothing on social care. Does he care 4.2 million children live in poverty? Does he know that we’re sleepwalking into climate catastrophe?

Having witnessed this horror show of fear, despair and division, the Labour Party has a choice this week in Liverpool.

Do we let their hatred spread unchallenged? Or do we offer an alternative of inclusion, equality and hope? Do we allow them to convince the British public that inequality and poverty are inevitable? Or do we mobilise around the possibility of a better world?

Unprecedented crises call for bold solutions. That means building a new economy that satisfies human needs, not corporate greed.

There is a reason why these demands for a more equal, sustainable and peaceful world are not being made by the Labour leadership.

The absence of transformative ideas has been caused by a dearth of democracy. This year marks 50 years since we founded the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy.

We did this to empower party members and expand their rights. Today, these rights are under attack up and down the country.

Local branches like my own are being sidelined, party members are being silenced and democracy is being stifled. This is not coincidental to the drastic political shift away from our redistributive programme.

Our transformative policies from 2017 and 2019 were not imposed from the top. They were developed, formulated and defended by members and affiliates.

That is how it should be. Democracy is the foundation of the Labour Party. It is essential to a healthy, creative and collective movement.

And, ultimately, only a movement that empowers its members can generate the transformative policies this country desperately needs.

Continue ReadingUnprecedented crises call for bold solutions