Saturday last week, I attended the People’s Assembly ‘National Demo’ in London. The demo was to raise awareness and protest a number of long-standing issues, and to call for a ‘new normal’ post-Covid. The demands included (not an exhaustive list) the following: ending austerity and committing to tackle poverty, funding our NHS and giving nurses a much deserved and needed pay rise, protecting our environment, an end to Israeli apartheid, withdrawal of the draconian & racist policing bill and ending institutional and structural racism. Groups represented included: Extinction Rebellion, War on Want, various trade unions and socialist organisations, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Counterfire, the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community and Stand Up to Racism.

All of these groups campaign on important issues, there is no question about this; however, I want to raise a concern and it starts with a couple of questions focused on the subject of racism…

Are certain forms of racism more important than others?

Is it ever acceptable in a broad-based antiracist movement to exclude one group, in order to prevent a section of another group from being offended?

These are serious questions, and it requires us to reflect on what it means to be a true ally in the fight against racism and bigotry.

You might ask why I am asking these questions; which I shall now explain…

I have for several months, without success, attempted to contact the national branch of  a group I supported called, ‘Stand Up To Racism’ (SUTR). I had noted over an extended period of time that they had not once posted anything in support of Palestinians suffering under Israeli apartheid, nor how anti or non-Zionist Jews were being attacked, targeted and smeared for supporting Palestinian rights and, for all intents and purposes, were being branded the ‘wrong kind of Jew’. One of the most well known recent victims being Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi.

Since I noted that there were several stalls representing the group present, I decided to approach one to ask them why this was the case. Nothing prepared me for the response I received by 3 separate individuals, which were all pretty uniform and which became clear was an attempt to justify what I discovered was a deliberate exclusion of the Palestinian issue. I will set out the main three points they made to me and why I find it a cause of concern for any committed antiracist, which I highlighted at the time in what became a rather heated debate:

“It’s a Socialist issue”

It is clear that the inference here is that it is not an antiracist issue. I challenged the representatives stating that; although of course it is also a socialist issue, Palestine is first and foremost an antiracist, human rights and anti-colonialist issue (the latter is always inherently racist as history demonstrates). The representatives countered that Palestine Solidarity Campaign is the organisation tackling Palestine, to which I responded that my understanding was that ‘Stand Up To Racism’ was a broad-based antiracist movement that challenged all forms of racism, there name literally states this, it does not, like other single focus groups, campaign exclusively on one issue such as Black Lives Matter; who incidentally offer solidarity to Palestinians, recognising the intersectionality of racism and bigotry.

Now I ask readers, what clearer expression of structural white supremacy in practice is there today than Israeli Apartheid?

Clearly unable to formulate a reasonable counter argument, they then moved on to the next point:

“It’s a divisive issue” adding that they did not wish to alienate “moderate antiracist Jews”

There is a very simple question to be asked here, and it is this: can any individual of any identification that supports, whether in whole or part, Israeli Apartheid be classed as a committed antiracist?  I would argue that making such a statement is anti-Semitic as it conflates Judaism with the political ideology of Zionism; which may be uncomfortable for some to acknowledge, but is and always was in practice, an ideology of ethnic supremacy. It also disregards the numerous non or anti-Zionist Jews who, as I highlighted above, find themselves in the unforgiveable position of being labelled as the ‘wrong kind of Jew’. Many people will know that under the supporter of Zionism “without qualification”,  Keir Starmer, these left-wing Jews have been disproportionately suspended and expelled from the Labour Party.

I argued with the representatives that the justification they were making for staying silent as Palestinians suffer, not just under Israeli apartheid, but Israeli ethnic cleansing, occupation and incremental genocide, was that they might offend some anti-Palestinian racists!

And so we move on to the next argument

“It’s not a British issue”

I mean where does one start with this?! Ignoring that SUTR does not only highlight domestic issues. In the context of the Balfour Declaration of 1917, where a British Lord quite literally decided to gift away a country that was not his to a group of Europeans, this really is quite an astonishing display of, at the very least, ignorance!! I really was taken aback by this remark. Let us say though for argument’s sake that we put aside Balfour deciding to give away a land that did not belong to him, our government is at this time arming Israel who is known to be perpetrating crimes against humanity against the Palestinian people.

In addition, not only has it been proven in; amongst other things, Al Jazeera’s documentary, ‘The Lobby’, that the Israel lobby is undermining our own nation’s democracy, but we have also witnessed British citizens, including those of Palestinian and Jewish heritage, being subjected to well organised and relentless campaigns to destroy their reputations and livelihoods. So yes, this is in fact very much a “British issue”. It also begs the question, would such interference from lobby groups for other states be tolerated in this manner, say by Russia or China?

I was so outraged by the response by the representatives of ‘Stand Up To Racism’; which it would appear from evidence is the general stance of the national branch, that I wrote a thread on Twitter, which I also posted on my Facebook page. Since doing this, I have discovered even more disturbing evidence that the organisation has actively turned a blind eye to this form of white supremacy, most notably, by welcoming Israel Lobby groups involved in the aforementioned, into SUTR marches. These groups have marched with Israeli flags, which, if you have ever been to Palestine is a provocative symbol of racist oppression. It might be a good time to remind ourselves of which other individuals proudly wave this flag!

What has also been disconcerting is how a number of ‘antiracists’ have defended SUTR’s stance, making the argument that in the context of the ‘antisemitism crisis’, it was better to allow these individuals to march. Let’s be clear on something this is appeasement, and the outcome of the witch-hunt has demonstrated that this was, and is never, an effective strategy for tackling a smear campaign!

So, I return to the original two questions I asked and provide my answers to them: If we agree on the premise that all lives are of equal value, then we simply cannot tolerate a hierarchy of racism, and in the context of our history as Europeans we have a particular obligation to confront all forms of racism and to never prioritise one marginalised group over another.

Related to this, SUTR are a well-known, well respected organisation that many look to for direction, so their silence on Palestine, as our government and the official opposition seek more ways to suppress Palestinian solidarity in already shrinking spaces, is deafening! It sends out a very dangerous message, and it is this: that Palestinians are not equal, their lives simply aren’t as valuable as other marginalised groups. In my mind it is morally reprehensible for any self-professed ‘antiracist’ group through their stance to basically tell the Palestinians; who at this very moment are witnessing their homes and land being stolen and/or demolished in Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan and Beita, their resistance to which is being brutally suppressed, that are facing an ethnic cleansing on a scale that has not been witnessed since 1948, that are being confronted by 1000s of Jewish Zionist nationalists literally calling for their genocide, that they need to ‘suck up’ the racism directed at them in order to make Jewish Zionists feel better! It is my view that this position is not only immoral, but in addition makes SUTR complicit.

Like it or not, we as British people have a particular responsibility to the Palestinian people as a result of our government’s current and historical, support of Israeli apartheid, and as an absolute bare minimum, we should not allow them to be overlooked in one of the largest antiracist movements in the country! so I say it is time for us who are committed antiracists to stand up to ALL forms of racism and withdraw our support from the national branch until they change their current position.

(It would be a good time to highlight that I did also speak to a member of Wandsworth SUTR who did explain to me that following a heated discussion on this very subject, progress had been made and thus I think local branches who are taking the morally appropriate stance should be supported and use their agency to influence the national organisation).

Another great site by the Dangerous Globe

Another great site by the Dangerous Globe

A free to use, comprehensive and independent search engine which is about to become your favourite.

TheReal.News is a search engine that has had the spin removed. We use sites that we have studied for some time and monitored for integrity and we don’t use sites that we have seen which either spin or lie their way to the front page. Everybody is biased in some way or they aren’t breathing, but Bias and Bollocks are not the same thing.

People that tell the truth are quite easy to find because they cite references and sources to back up what they say. The opposite is also true.

Please spread the word
Natalie Strecker
Palestine Solidarity and Social Rights Activist and occasional writer for NinebyFive Media, Counterfire, Unlabour and personal Medium account: ( Served as a Human Rights Monitor in Hebron in 2018. Socialist and former Labour member, left after Labour Leaks.
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments