Western capitals are witnessing unprecedented surge in pro-Palestinian rallies
Washington sends message to Tehran for seeking ceasefire
By Abdul Bari Masoud
New Delhi, Nov. 7, 2023
As the western capitals are witnessing an unprecedented surge in pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel rallies, US President Joe Biden is coming under mounting pressure to press Israel to go for humanitarian pauses in its genocidal military operations in besieged Gaza. Besides, the Democratic Congressmen, US Arab allies who signed the Abrahamic Accords, and young Americans are also putting pressure on Biden to halt the Israeli aggression. Iran claimed on Monday that it received a new message from Washington stating that the US seeks a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. However, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in no mood to listen, telling visiting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that there can be no humanitarian pause so long as Hamas holds the 200-odd hostages.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Washington has sent Tehran a new message stating that while the US wants a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, in reality, it still supports Israel’s genocide against the Palestinian people.
According to Tehran-based Press TV, Abdollahian told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting between Iranian and Iraqi heads of government in Tehran that the message did not correspond to what the US has done in practice in Gaza, where it has supported Israeli crimes against civilians.
“The Americans… delivered a message to us in the past three days (claiming) that they are after a ceasefire and have carried out efforts in this regard,” said Abdollahian, adding that “they, however, back mass killing and genocide” of people in Gaza.
“We hope that the US will soon change its policy and stop supporting the occupying party,” he said.
The US had sent similar messages to Iran, a country with influence over resistance groups in Palestine, since the Israeli aggression on Gaza started on October 7, according to statements by Abdollahian and other authorities.
Abdollahian also commented on reports that Blinken had flown in to Baghdad on Sunday wearing a bulletproof vest due to concerns that he would be attacked for his advocacy of the Israeli slaughter in Gaza.
He said, “This is the reality about the US role in the region.”
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered in London, Paris, Washington, Berlin, and other cities on Saturday, demanding a cease-fire in Gaza as Israel increased bombing on the besieged Gaza following the Al-Aqsa operation led by Hamas’s military wing.
The American capital witnessed the largest pro-Palestinian rally in years after Blinken held talks in Tel Aviv for pauses in the fighting to allow humanitarian aid to pass through the besieged enclave. Thousands of people called for an end to US support for Israel, and some outside the White House chanted for the destruction of the Zionist state.
A string of protests that have included calls for an end to the Israeli aggression as well as purported support for the Hamas’ operation in southern Israel took place in European capitals.
At multiple demonstrations, protesters brandished bloodied dolls or body bags to call attention to the Gazan children who lost their lives in Israel’s brutal bombing since October 7.
Tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters gathered in London, the fourth consecutive week that the British capital has been the venue for a large rally in support of Palestinians since October 7.
In Central London’s Trafalgar Square, police said over 30,000 people participated in the rally, and the protesters waved Palestinian flags and held placards calling for an immediate ceasefire.
According to The Times of Israel, a right-leaning newspaper, at the protest rally, some signs appeared to celebrate Hamas’ October 7 attack, including one depicting a bulldozer tearing down Gaza’s border fence, and demonstrators on a London tube ride traveling to the rally chanted, “Smash the Zionist settler state.”
Sam Dababneh, 26, a Jordanian business consultant who came to the rally with her Palestinian friends, said they were tired of the stream of upsetting images coming from Gaza.
“We came here to support the ceasefire,” she said. “We spend the whole week consuming the news, and this is very draining, so this is our only form of outlet.”
Pro-Palestinian organizations have announced that they will march through the capital of Britain once more on Saturday, November 11, Armistice Day, to call for an immediate end to Israeli aggression.
November 11 is a day of remembrance for soldiers who died in the two world wars and other conflicts. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stated on Friday that organizing protests for this day would be “provocative and disrespectful.”
He stated that there was a real and present danger that protesters would deface the Cenotaph and other war memorials, calling it “an affront to the British public and the values we stand for.”
Dababneh said she would be one of those protesting on Armistice Day.
Pro-Palestinian demonstrations were also held in other UK cities, such as Sheffield, Manchester, and Glasgow. Participants waved Palestinian flags and demanded an immediate end to hostilities.
Four thousand demonstrators marched on the US consulate in Belfast. Teddy bears were propped up by protestors at the site’s entrance as a symbol of the children slain in Gaza.
Mairead Maguire, a Northern Ireland peace activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, called on the Irish government to trigger the 1951 Genocide Convention over Israel’s offensive.
“The genocide of the Palestinian people has been going on since 1945,” she said in her address to the demonstration, then went on to claim that Israel would “clear Palestine” after Gaza.
“And if we, as the people of the world, allow the Palestinian people to be destroyed further, it will be to our utter shame. Who is next?”
In France, several thousand pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered in Paris across the English Channel and demanded an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, with some yelling “Israel, assassin.”
The protesters chanted “Macron, accomplice” as they aimed their chants at French President Emmanuel Macron. The crowd is also chanting “Immediate ceasefire,” which is written on placards held by some of the participants. At the heart of the march were banners that said, “Stop the massacre in Gaza,” hanging from a sound system truck.
Along with shouting “Palestine will live, Palestine will win,” the demonstrators carried Palestinian flags in many cases. The protestors’ planned route ran between two large public squares in eastern Paris, République and Nation.
In America, over 10,000 people descended on Freedom Plaza near the White House for Washington’s largest pro-Palestinian protest in years. They chanted slogans such as “Free Palestine” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” at the rally. Given that Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza are situated between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, the latter slogan is one that Hamas and other groups use to call for the destruction of Israel.
In a call and response, a woman was heard saying into a microphone, “Long live the intifada,” to which the crowd responded, “Intifada, intifada, intifada.”
Along with chanting “We don’t want a Jewish state, we want ’48,” which appears to be a call for Israel’s destruction, some demonstrators also painted concrete posts along the outer fence of the compound red.
Despite the intense anger among participants, there were no reports of violent incidents or conflicts with the local law enforcement officers guarding the rallies.
Speakers demanded an immediate end to the Israeli aggression in Gaza and charged Israel with committing “genocide” inside the area controlled by Hamas.
The speakers also voiced their deep annoyance with President Biden for his backing of Israel, threatening to withhold their votes from him in the upcoming presidential contest.
One of the most well-known speakers at the demonstration was rapper Macklemore, who declared, “I don’t know everything, but I know enough that this is a genocide.”
In Canada, it was reported that the largest pro-Palestinian demonstration in Canadian history took place in Toronto, where more than 25,000 demonstrators marched against Israel in front of the US consulate. According to the Toronto Star, protesters shut down a busy intersection and declared they wouldn’t go until their concerns were taken seriously.
In Iran too, protesters gathered in front of the former US embassy in Tehran, shouting “Down with the USA” and “Down with Israel.”
In front of crowds waving flags, they set fire to an effigy of Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu as well as the US and Israeli flags.
Iran observed a “day of the fight against global arrogance,” on which the protests took place. November 4th commemorates the day in 1979 when Iranians attacked the US embassy and took 52 American diplomats hostage for 444 days.
Meanwhile, Gaza health authorities said on Monday that the number of people killed in the 31 days of Israel attacks had exceeded 10,000, with children accounting for nearly half of the death toll.