“Precautionary Statement of Defence”

Palestine Protest 1

“During times of universal deceit speaking the truth becomes a revolutionary act “ George Orwell.

Speaking out for Palestine

I write this in recognition of the reality that anyone who speaks truth and challenges the official narrative that ‘Israel is defending itself against the terrorist threat of Hamas’, can now face arrest in the U.K.

As time passes it is becoming increasingly evident that we no longer live in the benevolent Britain of my childhood where the fictional character of PC George Dixon, in the popular television series, ‘Dixon of Dock Green’, was created out of the common belief that this was how police generally conducted themselves. The police who were deemed to be part of the local community, wandered the streets armed with only a whistle and a wooden truncheon. The war of all wars had ended and it was a time when the majority believed that government and police were there to serve and protect the people.

The changes in our way of life have come gradually so as to create the illusion, (for those who don’t have the benefit of having lived during those times of freedom and independence from the state), that these ever increasing restrictions placed upon our lives are normal and legitimate.

As a young adult I avidly read novels by such writers as George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, Aldous Huxley, Franz Kafka and others. They wrote about totalitarian and dystopian worlds that seemed far away from my own carefree world of freedom and opportunity. That was in the late fifties, sixties and early seventies. In 2023 the worlds I read about in these novels are no longer distant or fictional. The warning of Orwell’s 1984 may have arrived later than he predicted, but the signs of increasing controls are with us. Surveillance is everywhere and ‘telling the truth in this age of universal deceit by both government and a captive mainstream media, is becoming increasingly interpreted as a ‘revolutionary act’.  The overt burning of books on the streets hasn’t happened although in this age of technology the controls are more subtle. It is common practice for outspoken critics of government or corporations, posting their views on various platforms, to be ‘cancelled’. Individuals have had their bank accounts closed for saying the wrong thing. Governments, groups, and individuals who speak out because they oppose Western Leaders’ appetite for exploitation, economic expansionism and war, are cast into the role of terrorist. The labels, liberally applied are threatening, superficial in substance, and placed there solely for the purpose of delegitimising criticism or dissent.

The Greek meaning of the word apocalypse is the ‘falling away of the veil’. If the veil of living in a benevolent democracy hasn’t already been lifted from one’s eyes, the events in Palestine and the response of Western leaders in supporting Israel’s genocide of the Gazan people, must surely cause the veil to slip now.

People often ask the question as to why so many Germans living in fascist nazi Germany were silent about what was happening to their Jewish neighbours. At this distance in place and time I wouldn’t want to make any judgment. Those who did challenge Nazi ideology often faced torture and death. In Britain challenging our government hasn’t reached that level of threat. That is not to say the threat individuals face from government and police couldn’t fast develop into something more dangerous. Had thousands of people, (outraged by Israel’s crime of genocide against the Gazan people), in defiance of Suella Braverman’s autocratic dictate, not taken to the streets with their flags and banners, then lone protesters could have found themselves in gaol.

Braverman has gone, however she wasn’t alone in her calls for the criminalisation of dissent, especially when it comes to criticism of Israel or Zionist ideology. Arrests of individuals who have refused to remain silent in the face of Israel’s crime of genocide, have occurred. Craig Murray was arrested because he had written a blog where he refused to condemn Hamas. Protesters have been arrested for carrying placards that make comparisons between what Nazi Germany did to Jews and what Israel is doing to Palestinians. By conflating criticism of Zionist crimes with the peaceful religion of Judaism, arrest and accusations of antisemitism were directed at an elderly Jewish protester whose family had been caught up in the Holocaust. The fact that it is surely racist to attach the crimes of radical Zionists to that of ordinary Jews living peacefully in the U.K., is somehow lost in the fog of war propaganda. Recently a woman was arrested under the ‘terrorism act’ and during her interrogation was told that if she denied Hamas and gave her support to Israel, all charges against her would be dropped. Her crime was reposting information in support of Palestinian resistance to the ongoing Israeli occupation and genocide in Gaza. The U.K.  is indeed fast becoming Orwell’s world of ‘1984’, where agreeing to say 2+2= 5, makes everything okay.

Terrible war crimes are being committed by Israel against the Palestinian people, not only in Gaza but also in the West Bank. These crimes have a history of over seventy five years. This is not a war of equal military powers or even a war of equal culpability. There is an oppressor and an oppressed. The U.K. Government and the government of the US in supporting Israel’s crimes of land grab, occupation, ethnic cleansing and genocide are breaking both the moral natural laws of humanity and international law under the Convention on Genocide.

Under the Convention it is not only wrong for governments and individuals to remain silent, (let alone offer assistance to the state committing the crime), there is an obligation placed on all of us to do what we can to oppose and frustrate the execution of the crime of genocide.

Genocide is seen as the ultimate war crime and because of the seriousness of this crime there are special legal requirements that are placed around it. The term, ‘Never again’, in reference to the terrible crimes committed against the Jewish people and others in the Nazi death camps, applies, or should apply to the protection of all humanity.

No one is above the law and no one is below it. In the eyes of the law we are all equal. Most dictatorships and tyrannies are “legal” in the limited sense of the word. However legal and law, are in reality, not necessarily the same thing, especially when governments determine that freedom of speech does not include calling them (or those powers they align themselves with), to account.

Under international law an occupying power does not have the right of self defence against those they are illegally and brutally occupying.

On the other hand those who are subjected to a brutal occupation by a military power are not only obliged to resist occupation but have a lawful right to do so. This right includes armed resistance.

By labelling Hamas as a terrorist organisation and stating that Israel is fighting Hamas, the U.K. can claim to be supporting Palestinian civilians while at the same time delegitimising their international legal right to armed resistance.

The Palestinians are in a battle for their survival. It falls on all of us who live in the relative safety of Western counties, to defy the ‘legal’ threats being hurled at us, and to speak out in as loud and clear a voice as we can muster… “End the genocide in Gaza. From the river to the sea Palestinians must be free.”

If we value our right to self determination then surely we must respect the right of others to determine their own lives. Our strength lies in our solidarity. We do not live in the fascist totalitarian world that engulfed Germany in the late thirties and early forties, or Orwell’s world of ‘1984’ – at least not yet.

In standing up for the rights of Palestinians we not only determine who we are as people, but we determine and shape our own future and that of the generations who follow us.

Heather Stroud is an activist

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