Sunday, July 30, 2006

Why I don't trust the PSC

Yesterday (Saturday 29th July) I went on a march, in Birmingham (UK), in protest against Israel's actions in Lebanon and Gaza. The event was organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), about whom I have previously expressed doubts on this blog. Nevertheless, I felt it essential to protest at Israel's brutal and disproportionate collective punishment of innocent Lebonese men, women and children.

My experience of previous pro-Palestinian rallies and demos has not been good. Those of them organised by the "Stop the War Coalition" (ie: the SWP and their new friends, the Muslim Brotherhood), have not been exactly pro-Palestinian, so much as anti-Israeli. At first, I was pleasantly surprised by the Birmingham event. For a start it was clearly organised by the PSC, with the SWP/Respect/Muslim Association of Britain/Muslim Brotherhood, nowhere to be seen: excellent!

The rally before the march was good: a Palestinian PSC speaker condemned Israel, saying "If you want to fight Hisbullah, then go after Hisbullah, not the people of Lebanon!" The same speaker called unequivocally for an immediate end to *all* attacks on civilians, whether Lebonese, Palestinian or Israeli. I had no hesitation in applauding this man's speech.

Then Richard Burden MP (Labour: Birmingham Northfield) spoke, making many of the same points as the Palestinian guy who'd preceded him, but adding " We all want a two state solution". The crowd (about 200 of us) applauded, but I thought "actually, most of the organisers of this rally do *not* support a two states solution, Richard - whether you know that or not".

My old sparring-partner Sue Blackwell spoke and, to be honest, I can't recall exactly what she said; but - precisely because I can't remember what she said- it can't have been all that bad.

Then, just before we were about to set off on our march around the City Centre, a bunch of characters turned up, headed by a mullah in full Khomeinite gear - the full regalia of an Iranian clerical fascist. Behind him were about 50 young men carrying Hizbullah flags, pictures of Hassan Nasrallah and the Ayatola Khomeini, and carrying placards with the slogan "Israel's dream: the world's nightmare".

A lot of people on the demo were clearly upset by the clerical fascists, and a female Yemeni work colleague of mine was hard at work telling people to ignore them. I was standing in the company of a group of Iranian political refugees, who were horrified by the picture of Khomeini, and some of them very nearly left the demo there and then. One of the Iranians identified the Mullah as an agent of the regime (why do they need agents, when they've got the SWP at their beck and call?).

But even so, I said to myself, you cannot blame the PSC for these interlopers. The PSC organisers were clearly not in a position to turn the Khomeneites away, and all they (the PSC)could do was to deny the fascists a platform and attempt to drown out their chants.

Except that leading Birmingham PSC'er Chris Khamis gave the mullah a microphone, and held the megaphone whilst he (the mullah) spouted his anti-semitic filth.

I was proud to be on a protest against Israel's brutality in Lebanon and Gaza. but I didn't like the company I was keeping.

6 Comments:

Blogger David Broder said...

"If you want to fight Hisbullah, then go after Hisbullah, not the people of Lebanon"

Hmmm... given that Israel claims only to be killing civilians as collateral in areas where Hisbullah are active, this is a bit weak.

Presumably the odd mix of this speech from the PSC, and their support for 'fascist' mullahs, shows a total lack of politics/ anything to say in the face of the Lebanon war, except for a generalised opposition to Israel existing.

1:13 AM  
Blogger voltaires_priest said...

I don't even think it's really that worked-out. Most of the PSC's membership are just horrified by what goes on in Israel-Palestine, and no more than that. The PSC's "leadership", such that it has one, probably has as many different perspectives as it has members, some two states, some one state, some nice, some not, etc.

3:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

VP "The PSC's "leadership", such that it has one, probably has as many different perspectives as it has members, some two states, some one state, some nice, some not, etc."
No they all support the destruction of Israel. Not one of them supports 2 states.

6:59 AM  
Blogger voltaires_priest said...

Anon; how do you know?

3:24 PM  
Anonymous Brynley said...

I don't question your honest dilemma, Jim, just your sense of proportion.

Yes, you can control which contingent you are in. No, you can't be held personally responsible for the politics of other contingents.

So, for example, CND marches would contain everyone from moderate moralists and concerned peace activists, through to every kind of Maoist and every known communist faction...not to mention the anarchist contingent who took over the front of the march.

I remember by parents' discomfort on seeing they were marching in the same march, Jim, as people whose slogan was "No German Finger on the Nuclear Trigger".

Your dilemma is as old as dissent. Get used to it.

12:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

VP. All their literature i have read over the years. All their members i have spoken to. Ask any of them yourself and you will see that they believe Israel has no right to exist. I'm not saying all anti-zionists are of this belief but i'm pretty sure that PSC are. Infact they seem to be more anti-zionists than pro-Palestinian. Until the PLO changed its position to a 2 states solution , PSC used to give them unconditional support as the sole representative of the Palestinian people. Afterwards they dropped this pretty quickly. Why don't you ask them and post back what they say. If they do believe in a 2 states solution then i would be glad about it !

1:20 PM  

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