Tag Archives: gaza

BBC bias over Israel

Because of accusations of bias at the BBC from peace activists, yesterday’s huge London march began (not for the first time) with speeches in Portland Place directly outside the BBC Broadcasting House.

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There, as protesters arrived from all directions in their tens of thousands, various speakers berated the state broadcast company over their pro-Israeli bias, their poor provision of historical context, and the PR and lies coming from Israeli spokespeople that are left unchallenged and uncorrected. For a very fine analysis of how this works (still profoundly pertinent even though recorded in 2011 after Operation Cast Lead), see Greg Philo’s talk at SOAS, that unveiled the “Israel Project”, and the “National Information Directorate” which was set up a year before Cast Lead purely in order to control the international media debate.

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With such a visible protest directed at the BBC, you might think that the BBC News website might offer at least some information about it, even if downplaying the accusations, and offering the usual “we try to give a balanced view and did interview a Palestinian once” PR statement.

But, astonishingly, and in utter contempt for the huge number of people who came, the BBC news website carried the following report yesterday evening:

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An inexcusable lie by simple omission.

The aerial view of the huge crowd, shot out of a window from the state broadcasting building, also carried a devious description.

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Perfectly accurate, I guess, but “gathered near” doesn’t really tell the whole truth, when “an angry crowd gathered outside Broadcasting House” would have been more honest.

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People are fed up of the bias, the uncorrected lies, the rewriting of history, and the manipulation of the discourse.

George Galloway has publicly called for people to cancel their licences and refuse to pay the BBC fees.

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There’s plenty of information available about how to do this, explaining how limited the BBC Charter actually is in terms of legal retribution, despite their carefully constructed system of harassment and enforcement. The campaign is certainly gathering momentum on social media. It’s certainly worth looking at the information out there about how to do it with impunity. Some would regard it as a moral imperative.

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BDS Gaza Solidarity action in Whitechapel 2nd August – pics

Watched by a police Forward Intelligence Team (FIT) who prowled around trying to overhear plans, a group of a few dozen people gathered outside Whitechapel tube at noon today to take part in an action called by the London Palestine Action group.

After a short briefing, handing out leaflets for the public, letters to staff, and various banners and flags, the group marched off to their main target which turned out to be the large Sainsbury store nearby.

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Some activists were already in the store as the group turned up. They had been gathering baskets of produce that comes from Israel or the occupied territories, among them, hummous, aubergine spread, various fruits and dates.

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Some activists remained in the lobby near the main doors, while others entered the shop.

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Although management and police seemed reasonably relaxed, some of the Securitas staff acted up – one assaulting a photographer, another grabbing a camera lens, and one trying to seize a banner. When challenged, one of the SIA-accredited staff refused to show his ID badge, until eventually police intervened and forced him to comply.

Various small groups of protesters chanted, handed out leaflets, held up banners, or wandered round the store searching for Israeli produce.

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For a while the shop was closed to new customers and as others left, it became emptier.

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After around twenty minutes, almost all the activists re-grouped in the lobby, and staged a die-in there, and then they left peacefully and began a loud march heading back west along Whitechapel High Street.

Along the way, they received a good response and much solidarity from shopkeepers, shoppers, drivers tooting horns, and the general public.

They paused for a while outside Starbucks, and then arrived at a Tesco Express store opposite the park. While most waited outside the small store, a small group again entered and searched for Israeli produce. Among the finds were ‘finest Venezia potatos’, grown in Israel.

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The store closed its doors for a short while, while the crowd chanted outside.

Next target was a larger Tesco Metro at the end of Fieldgate St, where among the finds were Halawi dates that unashamedly announced they were packed in the West Bank (Israeli Settlement).

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One of the activists had an emotional conversation with the Produce Manager, filmed by the FIT video that followed the group around all afternoon.

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At the end of their talk, they shook hands, and the Manager agreed to report to Head Office that customers had complained about the Israeli produce.

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The protest marched back to Whitechapel Station, where they chanted slogans a while longer, and handed out any remaining leaflets.

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After a short debrief, they dispersed. Although the action might be seen as a drop in the ocean, there was a lot of engagement with local community as well as staff at the stores, and even a small dent made in the afternoon’s profits – it also mirrored a South London action that took place in Brixton – don’t forget “every little helps”.


For an intro to the BDS movement, this may be useful – http://www.bdsmovement.net/bdsintro

Gaza vigil at Downing Street 29th July

Several hundred people gathered opposite Downing Street this evening at short notice to solemnly mark the murders of children and civilians in Palestine during the recent onslaught by the Israel war machine.

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Organised at short notice by Stop The War Coalition and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, people were asked to bring flowers.

Each person chose a name from the list of hundreds and wrote it on a white card along with the age of the victim. Then the cards were placed with flowers against the wall along the pavement opposite Downing Street.

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Police were particularly annoying, with half a dozen Police Liaison Officers continually hassling people to get into the “protest pen”, and one, a TSG officer in a PLO blue tabard, trying to get the small group of anti-Zionist Jews to move (even though they were in the pen), as they were apparently attracting too many photographers!

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When the wall space was full, a young woman began to read the list of names of victims and their ages over a megaphone, and an eerie silence fell over the large crowd.

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The speaker broke down in tears at one point, and others in the crowd sobbed too.

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As soon as she finished, police again moved in and tried to clear the pavement and get everyone penned in.

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I had to leave early, but i believe the plan was for a delegation to take the flowers and name cards over to Downing Street and call for Cameron to condemn Israel over its war crimes and to stop selling arms to the apartheid state.

There is another protest planned outside the Israeli Embassy on Friday evening at 5pm.

Gaza national demo 26th July – short report and some pics

The event began outside the Israeli Embassy on Kensington High Street where the police had closed the roads to accommodate the tens of thousands of protesters arriving by lunchtime.

Shortly after 1pm, the huge march set off slowly east.

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Police were keen to portray a friendly image, and the Silver Chief Superintendent Morgan briefed his officers to “smile and wave”. Even austerity cuts were temporarily suspended as the Met Commissioner authorised officers to claim for ice creams, perhaps a dual purpose of cooling, as well as reinforcing the ‘fun’ image.

However, in the back streets around Kensington, there were dozens of vans of riot police, and the intelligence-gathering Police Liaison Officers were out in force, as well as undercovers on the march, spotter teams, and Forward Intelligence Teams with photographers. And the front of the march was patrolled by the normally less than friendly TSG officers.

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Downing Street was protected by layers of double fencing, although the march continued on past to Parliament Square for speeches and socialist newspaper sales.

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A small group of Palestinians continued a sit-down vigil opposite Downing Street.

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In Parliament Square, even two TSG officers were spotted in PLO tabards (surely some sort of mixed message!), and a couple of British Transport Police were tabarded up too.

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At the appointed end, around 4pm, a group of young Palestinian supporters marched a couple of times round the square and then headed north, perhaps towards the BBC or back to the Embassy – they numbered a little over 100.

Meanwhile, in the square a people’s assembly took place, facilitated by Occupy folk, who were hoping to encourage the erection of a temporary peace camp. A group of around 200 people shared ideas and speeches on an open mic, but it became clear that the #occupytheoccupation call-out had not reached enough people to establish a viable camp, and the idea was abandoned for the evening (or rather postponed).

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Once they realised the camp was not happening, the large deployment of PLOs dispersed.  

#occupytheoccupation is also a call-out for people to think creatively about occupations of relevant targets over the coming days. Already last week saw several such protests, including at the Ministry of Justice and at arms companies offices in London and Cardiff. Interestingly, there have been NO ARRESTS at any of these actions, possibly because the authorities are concerned about the “commit a small crime in order to prevent a larger crime” defence being played out in court, in the context of UK support for Israeli war crimes.