Free Palestine National Rally

This Saturday is the Free Palestine National Rally in London. From 1.30pm in Trafalgar Square, people will gather to show solidarity with the ordinary people of Palestine who continue to suffer daily attacks by Israeli forces, all condoned/supported by the US government.

As Electronic Intifada reports, just this week alone, “8-14 May 2003, 15 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including a woman and two children, were killed by Israeli occupying forces.”

The Israelis will no doubt claim that all these people were either terrorists or sheltering terrorists. Just as they tried to claim that the pacifist ISM protester Rachel Corrie, who they bulldozed to death, was in fact a dangerous supporter of terrorism.

Here is a picture of what a fanatical supporter of terrorism looks like:

To me, that looks like a clearly marked protester trying to stop the illegal demolition of Palestinian homes by a force that’s been illegally occupying foreign territory since 1967. She also looks pretty peaceful – no guns or rocks. The most dangerous thing she’s holding is a megaphone.

Now, here’s a photo of Rachel Corrie after the brave, patriotic, freedom-loving men of the Israeli Defences Forces had finished with her:

It’s a stirring sight, isn’t it? Look how well they’ve protected the freedom of Israel and defeated terrorism by running a bulldozer, twice, over this woman’s body. She surely can’t threaten them now, with her dangerous reflective clothing and megaphone.

Again, from Electronic Intifada:

“The Israeli Army are attempting to dishonour her memory by claiming that Rachel was killed accidentally when she ran in front of the bulldozer. Eye-witnesses to the murder insist that this is totally untrue. Rachel was sitting in the path of the bulldozer as it advanced towards her. When the bulldozer refused to stop or turn aside she climbed up onto the mound of dirt and rubble being gathered in front of it wearing a fluorescent jacket to look directly at the driver who kept on advancing. The bulldozer continued to advance so that she was pulled under the pile of dirt and rubble. After she had disappeared from view the driver kept advancing until the bulldozer was completely on top of her. The driver did not lift the bulldozer blade and so she was crushed beneath it. Then the driver backed off and the seven other ISM activists taking part in the action rushed to dig out her body. An ambulance rushed her to A-Najar hospital where she died.”

Can you imagine the uproar if, pre-invasion, Saddam Hussein’s regime had bulldozed a young American girl to death? Can you hear the impassioned invective this would have drawn out of Bush, Powell and the other war criminals now occupying the US administration?

But, as Chomsky teaches, only the crimes of official enemies count. The crimes of official friends, like Israel, must be minimised, or portrayed as regrettable accidents, one-offs. It’s not surprising that the Western media can ignore the deaths of Palestinians, that’s to be expected in these increasingly racist times. But the lack of outrage about Rachel’s death proves that the Western media is complicit in the crimes of Israel.

The fact that “Members of the Israeli army and associated Israeli settler paramilitary units have been responsible for the killing of 2,181 Palestinians and the injuring of another 22,218 between 29 September 2000 and 14 March 2003” gives lie to this media whitewash. Where is the outrage for the Palestinian victims of Israeli occupation and murder? Washington and London both seem strangely reticent on these matters. And yet, the US and UK have just illegally invaded and occupied Iraq, allegedly because of its terrible treatment of Iraqis and Kurds.

This Saturday, if you can make it, please come to the Free Palestine Rally in London. As with the Anti-War protests, if enough people come, even our craven, toothless media won’t be able to ignore it.

I’m not as brave as Rachel Corrie was. I wouldn’t leave my home, my country, my family to stand, defenceless, in front of Israeli soldiers with guns. The least I can do is stand in Trafalgar Square and help highlight the basic human rights that so many Palestinians are denied.