by Ellen Kenyon Peers, Waltham Forest Socialist Party
‘Democracy for ALL’, read a chorus of banners at the ‘Defend Israeli Democracy’ demo on 12 March. What began as protests to stop changes to the judicial system – in part an attempt by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to avoid corruption charges – has begun to grow into a movement to oust the current far-right government.
Demonstrations have been held in Israeli-migrant communities around the world, with the protest in London highlighting not only a desire to uphold women’s and LGBTQ+ rights, but also a more developed understanding of the occupation than seen in recent years. Many home-made placards featured Palestinian, Israeli and Trans-rights flags, in addition to shows of solidarity with the people of Hawara, who were recent victims of a horrific state-sanctioned pogrom by a band of settlers. (see ‘Israel-Palestine: Violence escalates with settler rampage – united working class struggle needed’ on socialistparty.org.uk)
The Socialist Party’s intervention was warmly welcomed, with protesters keen to display our posters which called for democratic workers’ organisations in Israel and Palestine, a socialist alternative to end poverty (20% of Israelis live below the breadline) and a two-state socialist solution to the conflict. A good chunk of the estimated 1,500-person crowd engaged with our material, with some taking leaflets and over 20 buying papers. A passer-by, who identified as Arab, spoke to us about the inequality they encountered and raised their fears about the impact of the creeping fascistic elements present in the current regime.
One attendee clutched his just-purchased copy of The Socialist as he told Socialist Party members that it was good to see us, ‘the only left wing group’ on the demo. It demonstrates that, if we want to build unity between ordinary people, showing up and flying the flag for an alternative is just as important as analysing the struggle from a distance.