Calls for Israel's destruction in London

From the archive (legacy material)

Yaakov Lappin | The Jerusalem Post | 22 May 2005

A central London rally organized by the British Palestine Solidarity Campaign on Saturday heard Respect Party MP George Galloway advocate a general boycott of Israel, as well as other speeches calling for Israel’s destruction.
Dark gray clouds poured heavy rain on London’s Trafalgar Square, as a crowd waving Palestine flags and anti-Israel banners filled the square to hear speakers shout vitriolic anti-Israel speeches. Demonstrators chanted Islamic slogans and flags calling for “victory to the intifada” were waved. Leading figures in Britain’s anti-Israel coalition also lined up to attack Israel.
Andrew Birgin, of the Stop the War Coalition, urged the destruction of the State of Israel. “Israel is a racist state! It is an apartheid state! With its Apache helicopters and its F-16 fighter jets! The South African apartheid state never inflicted the sort of repression that Israel is inflicting on the Palestinians,” he said to loud applause. “When there is real democracy, there will be no more Israel!” concluded Birgin. “Allahu Akbar!” yelled several men repeatedly in response.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Birgin said he was referring to Israel “in the sense that it exists now,” and said he wanted to see a “democratic secular state in which peace can move forward.”
The Palestinian representative to the UK, Husam Zomlot, also addressed the rally.
“As we speak today, the Israelis are continuing the ethnic cleansing campaign they started in 1948,” he said. “To the Israelis, I say that there will absolutely be no peace without the right of return.” “The right of return is non-negotiable! Apartheid no more!” exclaimed Zomlot.
“We urge our government to cease all trade with Israel,” said Jeremy Corbyn, a backbench Labor MP, who went on to express support for nuclear spy Mordechai Vanunu.
Former Labor MP Tony Benn said that “the apartheid wall should be removed,” referring to the security fence built by Israel to prevent Palestinian suicide bombers from reaching Israeli cities.
Calling American president George W. Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon the “two most dangerous men in the world,” Benn condemned America’s military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Israel’s anti-terrorism measures.
“My dear friends, if this process continues, there will be possibly some sort of a world war,” said Benn. “We are talking about respect for international law,” he added.
Paul Mackney, president of Britain’s second largest university teachers’ union, NATPHE, also spoke to the rally. “We stand in solidarity with our Palestinian brothers and sisters. Palestinian refugee camps are like open air prisons,” said Mackney. “The Israeli army frequently invades them. There will be no peace in the Middle East until there is justice for the Palestinian people.
“We are calling on all unions to join us,” he added. There has been speculation that NATPHE may hold a vote in its upcoming meeting to join the AUT’s boycott of Israeli universities.
Galloway, the newly elected MP for the anti-Iraq war Respect Party, used the rally as an attempt to launch an international boycott of Israel.
“It’s about time that the British government made some reparations for the Balfour declaration,” said Galloway. “Instead, Tony Blair said that Israel has no better friend than the British government. We say to Mr. Blair: You should be ashamed by that.
“The Palestinian people are like the 300 Spartans holding the pass of Thermopylae, until the others can arrive and come to their side. We will join them, by boycotting Israel. By boycotting Israeli goods. By picketing the stores that are selling Israeli goods,” he said to cheers and applause.
Azzam Tamimi, head of the Muslim Association of Britain, delivered an Islamist speech, guided by an ideology that rejects nation states in favor of a global Islamic state. “There are 22 stupid Arab states, why have another stupid Palestinian state?” he asked. “I don’t want another Palestinian state, I want Jaffa free, I want Haifa free, I want every inch of Palestine free!
“I don’t want to see any form of racist nationalism. And the most racist form of nationalism is Zionism. The problem is with a nationalist ideology that is the most racist on the face of the earth.”
Stuart Pexley, a former Catholic bishop, and a member of Pax Christi, said: “Jesus Christ attempted to create a new humanity without divisions. As a Christian I am opposed to the apartheid wall.”
“This morning we’ve had a message from the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions, saying they support the AUT boycott, and call for the May 26 AUT conference to boycott Haifa and Bar-Ilan University,” said Corbyn, before introducing Sue Blackwell, the Birmingham lecturer who presented anti-Israel boycott motions passed by the Association of University Teachers last month.
Blackwell attacked opponents to the boycott of Israeli universities, listing the Board of Deputies, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Congress.
“We can’t expel anyone from the union for breaking the boycott, so why is it that the whole world has gone completely hysterical?” she asked.
She bitterly criticized the upcoming emergency May 26 AUT meeting which will vote on a motion to overturn the boycotts. “When the issue is Israel, suddenly the procedures of the union are undemocratic, and a special meeting of the council has to be called, in over to overturn the motion. Comrades, it’s not us who are making a special case for Israel, it’s the people who lost the vote who are,” said Blackwell.
“I’m not very optimistic about the outcome,” she added “We are up against a backlash, being promoted by a well-organized, well-funded pro-Israeli lobby.” Blackwell also attacked the University of Haifa, and accused it of holding a “racist conference on Arab demographics.”
“I stand absolutely by every word in the motion. What we said about Haifa is an understatement. This is a university, which just hosted a conference, two days after the anniversary of the Nakba, entitled ‘The demographic problem.’ Brothers and sisters, a university which organizes a racist conference as Haifa has just done deserves every bit of trouble it gets from trade unionists in the UK.”
“We did not defame Haifa, but what is defamatory is attacks in the press calling us anti-Semitic,” said Blackwell.
Speaking to the Post about links on her personal homepage to neo-Nazi Web sites, she described as “defamatory rubbish” the article that exposed them. Blackwell promised to “make a statement” to the Post about the links, which she has since removed, in the near future.
The rally was also attended by members of the fringe anti-Zionist haredi Natorei Karta sect, who held signs which read: “Palestine from the Jordan River to the Sea.” “We are abiding by the Torah,” said one member. “They [the Israelis] have no right to exist. Israel will fail. Before Israel, Jews were living well in Arab countries,” he added.