It was with some interest that I read Comrade Kayvan’s account of the big demo for Palestine on Saturday. Judging by his camera angle, we must’ve been pretty close together in the crowd. I was very proud to be among friends marching under the banner of the three Croydon constituency Labour Parties at the event (although it must be said that very few local members of Momentum turned up, just as sadly very few attended Chris Williamson’s speaking event at our political headquarters the night before).
The Comrade is right about Ahed Tamimi. Whether she realises it or not, she has a very commanding stage presence and her uncoached, emotional English was particularly refreshing. I can certainly see the resemblance between her and Jeanne D’Arc (who admittedly I’ve never seen), although I’d enter the caveat that the “Maid of Orléans” heard voices from God, and was executed not by the English but by the French (for crossdressing — a practice banned in the Bible). Ahed Tamimi seems a rather more sober figure, and I can see why the IDF seeks to denigrate her with demeaning nicknames like “Shirley Temper.” Misogynistic tropes anyone? That being said, I was surprised the Israelis allowed her to come.
What was simultaneously both less and more exciting for me was that among the Category A lineup of speakers was included Corbyn’s Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott and his Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgoj (a young up-and-comer for whom Palestine is a passion). Abbott read out a strongly-worded statement of solidarity from Corbyn, and added her own remarks, speaking of her “lifelong commitment” to the Palestinian cause. Burgon too made an emotional speech. In particular, the use of (and emphasis on) the term “illegal occupation” resonated. Diane Abbott — a proudly left-wing black woman — is probably the most mocked high-level politician in the country. It’s well known that fully HALF of all abuse (genuine abuse) sent to women MPs is directed against her. And following her spirited defence of Julian Assange last month and her appearance at the demo on Saturday, I can see why.
For all its likely and inevitable faults and shortcomings, we need a Corbyn government now more than ever.