Samidoun activists in London joined fellow organizers from Victory to the Intifada, Revolutionary Communist Group, Inminds and other organizations for a protest on 7 November outside the Royal Albert Hall, protesting a celebration of the colonial Balfour Declaration on its 100th anniversary.
Protesters stood outside the entrance chanting in support of the Palestinian people and against Zionism, imperialism and colonialism and the British responsibility for the occupation of Palestine. The concert was attended by British prime minister Theresa May and Israeli occupation prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“I participated in the protest because I am angry and sick of the British colonial mind-set, arrogance and ignorance. Where I come from, Britain is neither neutral nor innocent in what happened and is still happening in Palestine. So called ‘Israel’ is a British colonial project in the first place, and Britain literally set the foundations of the Zionist settler colonial project in Palestine. it is important for me to remind the arrogant British politician and that we still refuse the colonial project in Palestine,” said Yafa Hussein, a university student from al-Quds.
Carrying speakers, signs and banners, the protesters marched despite the rain to all of the entrances of the hall, loudly and clearly denouncing British and now Zionist occupation in Palestine. Chants included “Brick by brick, wall by wall, Israeli Apartheid has to fall!” “Aida, Dheisheh and Balata, Victory to the intifada,” “From Al Quds to Ramallah, victory to the intifada,” and “Resistance is justified when Palestine is occupied.”
“We are here tonight demonstrating against a British celebration of racism and imperialism and colonialism, Zionism must be erased from the map; as an ideology and as a state,” said Lara Khalidi, Palestinian activist and Samidoun organizer.
“We are here standing against British imperialism as an internationalist communist organisation, standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people, and Britain has such a hug hand in oppressing the Palestinian people going back 100 years to the Balfour declaration. That is why are standing here saying: ‘no celebration of Balfour in Britain, we will not stand this, we will be here protesting against it, against Zionism, imperialism against the oppression of the Palestinian people and in solidarity with the Palestinian people and their resistance,’” said Wesam Khaled of the Revolutionary Communist Group – RCG.
Protesters carried Palestinian flags as well as Irish flags; some carried the banner of the leftist Palestinian party, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. A group of Zionists attempted to get the Metropolitan Police to force the demonstrators to remove the banner, accusing them of carrying a banned “terrorist” flag, but the demonstrators used information on their phones to demonstrate that, in fact, the PFLP’s flag is not banned in the UK. This prompted Zionist organizations to launch a campaign to attempt to ban the PFLP and the display of its flag at demonstrations in Britain after they failed to suppress the demonstration or prevent their message from being heard through police harassment.
The flag incident came after the police attempted to block the entrances of the hall, keep protesters far away from attendees and otherwise support the pro-Zionist event while attempting to suppress or minimize the protest.
“The Metropolitan police showed just how racist they are when they proceeded to abuse, cajole and harass peaceful protesters for standing up against Israeli apartheid. There behaviour is akin to the Israeli forces in occupied Palestine, the RUC in occupied Ireland or the civil guard of Spain,” said Daithi Cliontun, an Irish Republican socialist and protest participant.
Signs carried by the protesters included support for the Palestinian resistance, posters of Ghassan Kanafani, Palestinian writer and political leader assassinated by Israel, and denunciations of the Balfour declaration, imperialism and Zionism.
“The group was small as the rain probably kept more people away but our voices in support of Palestine were loud and clear,” said Norma Hashim, Editor of The Prisoners’ Diaries and treasurer of Viva Palestina Malaysia.
The protest came as part of a series of protests and events against the 100th anniversary of the Balfour declaration in London, across the UK and internationally. On 4 November, tens of thousands of protesters took the streets in London for a mass march against the Balfour declaration and in support of Palestine, under the slogan “Make it Right.” On 3 November, organizers protested outside a speech by Netanyahu, urging he be expelled as a war criminal; protests and events have continued in London, Manchester and elsewhere.