06 Aug
2018

Pedalling for Palestine

The Cornwall Reports exclusive on local MPs links to Israel is very timely. I have just today returned from taking part in The Big Ride for Palestine, cycling with 200 others from all over the UK and beyond (including three of us from Cornwall – my wife, Euan McPhee from Falmouth and myself) from Coventry to London. 

Cornwall Reports, the news website for Cornwall, has published this here. It is behind the paywall, but Cornwall Reports is well worth subscribing to if you are interested in Cornwall issues. It is very low cost and totally subscriber funded and the editorial line is well left of centre and focuses on issues around the local NHS and dysfunctional Cornwall Council amongst other things.

The mass ride over three days was an amazing experience. The riders included many with direct experience of Palestine, including an extended family of 12 Palestinians from three generations, who had come together from exile in several countries to take part. For more details see my account of it with photos in my cycling blog.

Whilst riding through the countryside the opportunity to talk to others and listen to their first-hand experiences of the situation in Gaza and the West Bank, and their stories of friends and relations living in appalling conditions under a violent and repressive occupying force was extremely powerful testimony.

The focus of much of our media and political class on the semantics of anti-Semitism has nothing to with the fact that Israel has occupied and effectively annexed the independent country of Palestine since 1967.

The situation for people on the ground is more analogous to the situation of blacks in the slave states of the USA in the 19th century and in the apartheid state of South Africa in the 20th century – except that in this case the people are treated as less than second class citizens of the country. The rest of the world did not allow these outrages to stand.

The continuing theft of land to build new settlements of Israeli squatters and the continuing killing of civilians is ethnic cleansing like that practiced across the former Yugoslavia, to the horror of the rest of the world.

As we rode into towns and cities along our route in to London the reception on the streets was extraordinary and heart-warming. People applauding, waving, cheering, chanting with us. Car horns blaring, drivers and passengers waving and giving out bottles of water.

As in previous examples much of our own political class and mass media is lagging popular opinion. The UN is clear that Israel is behaving like an apartheid state and that this should not be allowed. It seems that most people in the UK agree that the Palestinians’ situation is unacceptable.

The time has come for our elected politicians to stop squabbling about what words mean and focus on the situation on the ground – innocent children, women and men being killed and maimed by an occupying force and having their homes and lives destroyed.

For the other side of the story to the pro-Israeli propaganda our MPs are being spoon-fed, a good place to start is with the resources on the Palestine Solidarity Campaign website.

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