By Charlie Malcolm-McKay
Photography by Roché Idrees
As the Israeli government continues to launch attacks on Palestine I sat down with Adam, an organiser of the Leeds Palestine Solidarity Group, to help gain a better understanding of the contemporary genocide.
Could you briefly describe what the Leeds Palestine Solidarity Group is to someone who has never heard of you before?
Yes of course. I am a member of the Palestine Solidarity Group who are a student led society at Leeds University Union and what we try to do is raise awareness about the struggle of the Palestinian people. Our aim is to educate students and staff about the present oppressive and genocidal actions of the Israeli government. We hope to provide a space where students can take action and stand up for the liberation of all Palestinians who are currently under a state-sanctioned siege.
Are you able to elaborate on this and explain what is happening in Israel at the moment?
Firstly, I think the most important thing to make clear is that this is not a conflict. The perpetuation of an Israeli versus Palestinian political war is a completely false narrative that has been made up by mainstream media. In reality Palestinians are people who are living under an oppressive, apartheid, colonial regime that violates their basic human rights. By presenting this issue as a conflict, as the BBC has done, implies that Palestinians are somehow equal to Israel in this struggle. This is not the case, Palestinians are an indigenous population rising up against settler colonialism. You wouldn't call the struggle of the ANC against Apartheid South Africa a conflict, so why Palestine? Palestinians are fighting for their freedom against a state who’s number one policy is to get the maximum amount of Palestinians on the minimal amount of land. Over the years this has become more and more apparent as the Israeli government has continued to build illegal settlements in the areas of West Bank and enforced a brutal siege on Gaza, which are rightfully Palestinian territory. These settlements have been fortified by military infrastructure and are only accessible to Jewish Israelis. This ethnic cleansing operation, which we call Nakba, began in 1948 and has continued for the last 73 years. The racial genocide that we are currently witnessing has a long history and this is really important to understand as it continues to escalate.
Why is it now that we are seeing such violence and destruction coming out of Palestine?
The crux of the issue stems from the recent forceful eviction of Palestinians from their homes in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem. In the last week what we have witnessed is the heavy police persecution of native Palestinian residents in Jerusalem, which has been followed by a vicious attack on the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Laylatul Qadr (one of the most sacred nights in the Islamic calendar). On this night Israeli soldiers invaded the Al-Aqsa compound and began shooting rubber-coated steel bullets, gas cannisters and sounds bombs at the worshippers inside. This led Hamas, the political organisation in Gaza, to demand that Israel immediately stops this unlawful violence. However, after continued invasions and attacks Hamas had no other option other than to start firing rockets back at Israel as a means of putting pressure on Israel to stop these violations and protect Palestinians in Jerusalem. It is important to note that under international law, an occupied population has the right to resist its occupier by force. But now what we are seeing is only increased bombings on Gaza and Palestinian people in the name of a regime of Israeli Jewish supremacy, as identified by the HR organisation B'tselem.
Could you explain in slightly more detail the Palestinian response to this state-sanctioned genocide?
Of course. Right now Palestinians are resisting. For the first time in a long time we are witnessing a popular uprising, with strikes taking place in the likes of Haifa, Nazareth and Lydd. This has not happened since 1987 and so this unity and resilience is really positive to see.
What can people in the U.K. do to support Palestine?
I think the first step is to listen to Palestinian voices and educate yourself about our suffering and marginalisation. Secondly, I think that for us living in the U.K. we have to put pressure on our government to take action against Israel. There is currently a petition going around that has had more than 300,000 signatures to put an immediate arms embargo on Israel, because the U.K. is currently supplying weapons to them to fuel this genocide. I support direct action against this and it’s going to take a combined effort from all people to stop this. Whether it’s coming to one of our protests or joining our society it is crucial that everyone supports our campaign. We are calling on the university to boycott Israeli universities and to divest from companies that profit Israeli Apartheid. In joining us, I believe you will be able to look back and say I fought for the liberation and human rights of all Palestinians. You will be able to say that I was on the right side of history. Don’t just sit on the fence. It’s time to take action, because if not now than when?
Is there anything else you would like to add to that?
What I will finish by saying, because I think this is important to get across, is that the anti-Semitic incidents currently taking place across the UK are not something that comes from the Palestine Solidarity Movement. Anti-Semitism is something we condemn. It is alien to us and what we believe is that there are some people who are trying to hijack our cause for their own agenda. For example, I have seen some horrible comments on social media and verbal attacks on our Jewish comrades. I think that we have to be very careful right now and stay vigilant and protect Jewish-Palestinian solidarity, which is one of the cornerstones of this movement. Solidarity both to my Jewish comrades and to my Palestinian siblings!
You can sign the petition to introduce sanctions against Israel here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/585314
For more information about the Leeds Palestine Solidarity society visit: https://www.luu.org.uk/clubs-and-societies/browse-clubs-and-societies/palestine-solidarity-group/
Follow the Leeds Palestine Solidarity group using the social media handles below: