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Bradford rallies for Gaza


Thousands packed Bradford City Park on Sunday July 13 for a monster rally in support of the people of Gaza.

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  • This was just one city among many, showing what can be done at very short notice. Go thou and do likewise, brothers and sisters.

Kids paddled in the City Park lake and one cyclist rode through the water displaying a Palestinian flag. It was hard to hear the speeches – though hard to ignore the roar of approval that greeted George Galloway’s contribution.

But the speeches were not really what it was all about. This was a community expressing its collective rage at yet another assault on the people of Gaza, and Western governments’ collusion with it.

I haven’t seen any estimate of the numbers, and since the crowds were spread on all sides of the pool and overlooking the City Park it would be hard to do so, but my subjective view was that the numbers far exceeded the 3000 locals who thronged the streets the last time Israel attacked Gaza. The Telegraph & Argus newspaper shared my estimating problems, falling back on “thousands” there.

I got out of my sickbed, tied my Palestine scarf round my head, and joined thousands in Bradford City Centre.

I got out of my sickbed, tied my Palestine scarf round my hat, and joined thousands in Bradford City Centre.

It was a largely Asian crowd. I saw several young men sporting T-shirts with the slogan: You may have rockets over us – but remember Allah is over you. The youth of the crowd was significant. And while young men still predominated, there were more young women than at previous rallies.

There were also significant absences.

Where were the churches? I appeared to be the only person there wearing a cross. Previous incumbents at Bishop’s Croft came out with those of other faiths on public displays like this, but Bishop Nick was nowhere to be seen.

And Palestine still has a sizeable Christian population, remember, even though many are going into exile, since they tend to be singled out by the occupying forces for particular attacks.

And where, indeed, were the other faiths? It should not be left to the Muslims to speak out on behalf of peace and justice.

I know many Jews who are ashamed at what their brothers are doing to their neighbours, in violation of the teachings of the Torah, so it should not be impossible for the Synagogue to be represented. Jews and Arabs have been marching together in Jerusalem for peace, so why not here?

Where were the trade union banners? Given that the Palestinian trade unionists have appealed for our help, surely an act of public solidarity would not have come amiss.

Where were the political parties? It is too much to hope that official Labour will join in – though, to be fair, at least two Bradford Labour councillors were there – but surely the Communists and Socialist Workers’ Party should have availed themselves of this opportunity to reach out to this oft-neglected constituency.

And, come to that, why were there so few white faces? Given that Asians are actually statistically a minority in the city – albeit an increasingly vocal one, politically – and the fact that it is hard to find anyone, of whatever colour, willing to endorse Israel’s actions, the rally’s numbers should have been swelled to twice its number of the indigenous communities had turned out in force.

More needs to be done.

As I said when I spoke at the last such rally in 2009, the demonstration needs to be the beginning of a consistent campaign. If we leave the city centre feeling a nice, comfortable glow of warmth at our numbers, then the forces of war will have triumphed. They do not pause in their evil labours, and nor should we.

Unfortunately, that urging was ignored.

We must not make the same mistake again. Here are some of the things you can do:

  • Set up stalls at every public place, to distribute leaflets and collect signatures for the petition.

  • Contact local churches, mosques, gurdwara, temples, synagogues, trades unions, political parties, MPs, councillors, et al, to set up a “Friends of Gaza” committee.

  • Join the national demonstration outside Downing Street, London, next Saturday, July 19.

  • Write to the BBC demanding more honest reporting on what’s actually happening (and there’s a demonstration on this outside Broadcasting House in London on July 15). There’s the text of a suitable letter at http://act.palestinecampaign.org/petition/21.

  • Organise cultural events – concerts, art exhibitions, poetry performances – to publicise the situation and raise funds for Palestinian charities. Compose a song, write a poem, paint a painting. Send donations to Palestine International Medical Aid or Interpal.

    If you’re a musician and would like to take part in any musical events, I can pass on names and contact details to organisers throughout the country.

  • Join the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (if you’re not already a member).

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5 thoughts on “Bradford rallies for Gaza

      • First and foremost, I think it is an MP’s business to look after the cares and concerns of his constituents. Which it could be argued he did by turning up at the demonstration. But does he show as much support for other concerns, or only the concerns of those constituents who cheer for him? He would get more “respect” from me if he gave a fraction of his involvement to constituents who don’t follow him.

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      • So you have evidence for your assertion that he doesn’t help those who don’t follow him? And, by the way, though I was a Respect member briefly I have never been an uncritical follower of him. Indeed one of the reasons I left Respect was because it became just a vehicle for his political ambitions. But since he speaks out on matters ignored by most other politicians I still do not regret voting for him.

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      • No documented evidence, no. But I was in a conversation on Twitter a few months ago. The topic was the Westfield shopping centre. I asked the question, “why did it take ten years for them to start work on it?”.
        No one seemed willing or able to answer. Leeds got an extension to the White Rose Centre, and another extension planned soon. And the shiny new Trinity Shopping Centre in the City. And all the while, Bradford was fobbed off with no real progress. It makes me angry to this day.
        George Galloway, as my MP whose constituency includes the Westfield site, commented on the view from the hotel window where he was staying that weekend. He was looking at the site.
        So I asked him the same question. And his answer… “What has this got to do with me?” I replied that he was my MP, and should take my concerns seriously. But there was no reply. Several of his supporters gathered together and attacked me. George was still online, as my comments were not “favourited” but his followers comments were “favourited” by him as soon as they were posted.
        Childish behaviour unbecoming of any public figure. And especially insulting from someone who claims to respect others and listen to their concerns.

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