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Pro-Palestinian protests are not where the extremism is

Protestors, activists, human rights campaigners, indeed anyone who seems to care about social justice has taken to the streets in recent weeks to demonstrate against the ongoing Israeli injustices. The Israeli attack on Gaza has left 1, 960 Palestinians dead and just under 10, 000 injured. Watching the events in Gaza unfold unsurprisingly leaves most people troubled, especially as women and children bear the brunt of the brutality. It therefore, leaves one to wonder how some commentators can denigrate the protests that unfold in London and wider.

In recent weeks there has been a particular media focus on the protests sweeping across London, the UK and even across the globe. Even the BBC, whose coverage of the conflict came under severe criticism, covered the protests as they passed their own front doors. But it seems that certain reports have appeared to misunderstand the problems in Gaza. As people from all walks of life call for Palestine to be freed from illegal occupation (even the United Nations), others have missed this point entirely and think that the Palestinian’s problems would be solved if they were freed from Hamas.

By arguing that protestors are taking part in nothing but “collective rage” it ignores the demands of the Palestinians in Gaza, and indeed further afield, that an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine is nothing but a basic right under international law. The protestors are not part of a “Marxist-Islamist axis” like some would have us believe, with outrage about Gaza pouring out of even the staunchest of Conservative ranks it would be hard to paint the likes of Baroness Warsi as a Marxist or Islamist.

The ugly politics that are at play are those which leave civilians dead, where journalists decide that genocide is permissible in Gaza and where politicians declare that mothers and children should be killed and their homes destroyed. The outpouring of grief witnessed in London is not a “new extremism” – it is hard to believe that standing up for human rights is part of any extremist’s ideology. But if we want to turn our attention to extremism, again it is to Israel we look. It was there where the young 16 year old Mohammed Abu Khdeir was murdered by Jewish Israeli extremists. And it is the Israeli army that have been ‘graffiting’ the homes of Palestinians in Gaza with slogans such as “good Arabs = dead Arabs.”

When commentators weigh in on the debate on Palestine there is a need not to add to the polemic that already fills the media. Painting the protestors as extremists filled with an anti-Semitic rage is a misguided attempt to ignore the suffering of the Palestinians. It whitewashes Israel’s atrocities and suggests that the protestors are filling the streets for no apparent reason – in reality protestors are taking to the street to call for accountability and to make it clear that Israel’s crimes will not go unnoticed and the Palestinians will not be ignored. The media, both in the UK and internationally, has been filled with images and reports of Palestinians suffering – it would be heinous to assume that this would not elicit reactions in compassionate people the world over. And it is this alliance of people who stand up against the atrocities they witness that will never be broken.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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