Sunday 31 March 2024


I have now been on all eleven London marches for Palestine/Gaza. Each of them can be numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Nobody now denies the genocide taking place in Palestine, but some shrug their shoulders and say nothing can be done about it. But doing nothing is doing something – it is complicity in the face of a massive and active crime which, if you are a UK or US citizen, is being carried with support from our political leaders and with our tax-paid-for weapons. Of course it is tolerated by our corporate media. If the streets were empty of protestors the situation would be so much worse. 

The Zionists claim that these are ‘hate marches’ and that the demonstrators make the streets unsafe for Jews. That is part of their Big Lie, that Zionism and Israel represent Jewish people as a whole. The demonstrations have shown that there are many Jews who stand with Palestine. The slogan of “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” is not a shout out for a mono-religious or mono-cultural Palestine, but a demand for a country of and for all of its peoples, of whatever faith or none.

This is not a new idea, but an acknowledgement of what existed before the state of Israel was imposed on the region. Historical Palestine was a part of the Ottoman Empire, one of the world’s most religiously tolerant. Its millet system gave autonomy and equality to all religions and cultures. This was by contrast to the dogmatic and oppressive Christian rule to the north and west. 

When, in 1492, Ferdinand of Spain expelled Jews from Spain who refused to convert to Christianity, the Ottoman Empire’s Sultan Beyazit II welcomed them. They were identified as Sephardic, deriving from the word Sepharad which in Hebrew means Spain. 

The Spanish Caliphate in Al-Andalus had been a beacon of learning, and the city of Córdoba became one of the leading cultural and economic centres in Europe. Major advances were made in trigonometry (Geber), astronomy (Arzachel), surgery (Abulcasis), pharmacology (Avenzoar) and agronomy (Ibn Bassal and Abū l-Khayr al-Ishbīlī) and the region became a centre combining the Islamic, Jewish and Christian worlds. 

As someone interested in musical histories Andalusian music emerged in the 9th century as a mix of Muslim, Jewish, Gypsy and Christian troubadour genres. The lute has its origin in the Arabic oud, the guitar in the Arabic qithara.

The state of Israel was not created from any sort of progressive impulse, but set up for the salvation of Western imperial interests. As James Baldwin put it HERE, “The Palestinians have been paying for the British colonial policy of “divide and rule” and for Europe’s guilty Christian conscience for more than thirty years."

I have written HERE about the origins of Zionism and recommend you check out HERE Professor Haim Bresheeth eloquent appeal to bring Zionism to an end and return to convivencia.