Well, the troubles over in Gaza just seem to be going from worse to worse, with mounting and shocking civilian casualties in Gaza, and a new front opening up potentially on the border with Lebanon. Here in Edinburgh there is a mass demonstration being organised for this coming Saturday. Saturday will see rallies held in all of the capitals of the countries that make up the UK, with the largest rallies expected down in London. Edinburgh is to serve as the catchment for all of Scotland, as well as much of Northern England. I know for a fact that there are at least ten large coaches coming from Glasgow, and people coming from as far away as Inverness in the North and the islands in the West. Edinburgh itself will probably contribute between five to ten thousand, so we’re expecting the demo itself to be quite massive, with the London one much more so.
There’s not that much we can really do here in Edinburgh though, its more just symbolic than anything else. There is a US Consulate here, although its only visible sign is a door and a sign, and we’ve already been out there, shoes in hand. In London there is an Israeli embassy, as well as Downing Street and Parliament, so the action there will be more than just symbolic.
I think in Edinburgh we’ll march to the US consulate, and then demonstrate outside some major Israeli owned businesses (or businesses selling Israeli goods, as par the boycott Israel campaign), and then make a show of force on the Mound.
I am aware of at least one demonstration being quickly organised in Bermuda. I believe this rally will take place in a central location in town, although I wouldn’t be surprised if another demo is also held at the US Consulate some time. The USA has actively supported Israel in their pogrom in Gaza, and has effectively supported and defended the apartheid state that is Israel today – it is no coincidence that the munitions raining down on the people of Gaza today are mostly US made.
Demonstrations are, of course, largely symbolic actions. Not always though. They help to give a physical form to the number of people in society who are fed up with the status quo, and through their demonstrations exert (usually) indirect political pressure that can be translated into practical action later. Of course, at a certain point, they can exert direct political pressure and bring down hated regimes. Demonstrations in Israel itself, in the West Bank, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt all have the capacity to translate into direct political action, be it the opening of new fronts against Israel (West Bank, Lebanon), or the overthrow of a hated regime largely seen as collaborators with apartheid Israel (Egypt is particularly vulnerable here).
Beyond demonstrations there are more practical actions that individual citizens may take. The boycott Israel campaign is consciously modelled on the boycott campaign of goods from apartheid South Africa. No less a person than the UN President Miguel Brockmann has leant his support to this initiative stating that:
“More than twenty years ago we in the United Nations took the lead from civil society when we agreed that sanctions were required to provide a nonviolent means of pressuring South Africa to end its violations. Today, perhaps we in the United Nations should consider following the lead of a new generation of civil society, who are calling for a similar non-violent campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions to pressure Israel to end its violations.”
Starting next week there are plans to initiate a series of small pickets outside businesses here in the UK that sell Israeli goods. In the supermarkets here there are labels on all the produce detailing its origin, and Israeli products have been identified in TESCO, Sainsbury and Waitrose stores so far. Other companies either selling Israeli goods or otherwise aiding and abetting Israeli war crimes that I am aware of at the moment are Marks & Spencer and Lloyds TBS Bank. Of these I am aware that the supermarket on Front Street sells some Waitrose (or was it TESCO?) goods, and there is definitely a Marks & Spencers on Reid Street, both of which may make good locations for local pickets.
In the past I found evidence for mercenary outfits operating in Iraq that had a presence in Bermuda financially, and while these themselves deserve to be picketed, I will do my best to find out if there are any arms companies selling weapons to the Israeli’s that may have a presence in Bermuda.
There are a number of sites that have information on the boycotting Israeli products, but this one is a good start: The BIG Campaign
The Need For Some Perspective
As one might imagine there is alot of discussion going on here in the pubs, cafes, barbershops and bus-stops concerning the situation in Gaza. The Israel-Palestine situation is one of those rare issues that seem to be almost immediately polarising and it is sometimes quite surprising how strong the opinions are and from whom that one comes across. The nearest equivalent to it for the Bermuda context in terms of polarising issues would probably be that of race, with politics being a close second. In the USA I imagine the issue of abortion is probably the best example. I am sure that the Israel-Palestine issue no doubt has the potential to incite similar degrees of polarisation in Bermudian discourse as well.
Based on my own experiences and arguments I thought I would write a little about my own thoughts on the various issues that tend to be polarising. For the sake of not making this post too long though, I’ve decided to make such a post as a sequel to this one. For one thing its 2300hrs where I am, so I’m going to go to bed and write it when I’m more fully awake!