British Home Secretary Suella Braverman has told English and Welsh police officers that waving a Palestinian flag or chanting for Palestinian freedom may be a criminal offence. This is a clear attempt at censoring the free speech of those protesting Israeli oppression of Palestinians.
This directive, to clamp down on pro-Palestinian solidarity, is a political application of the law designed to silence those who disagree with their government’s support for Israel. Despite the illegal occupation of Palestinian land by Israel, a large number of British arms manufacturers sell their product to the Israeli government, including combat aircraft and attack helicopters. Not only does the British government allow this to happen on its watch, but it also cooperates with the Israelis, including but not limited to joint exercises between the Royal Air Force and the Israeli Air Force. It is obvious that they have a direct interest in censoring those sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.
It is a slippery slope and even those who do not find themselves particularly interested in the conflict in the Middle East should be concerned: it may not be applied to an issue that you care about today, but it could be tomorrow.
Supporting the Palestinian people simply by waving their flag is in no way the same thing as anti-Semitism. It is not only disingenuous but also dangerous to pretend otherwise, as this warps the idea of what anti-Semitism actually looks like.
The Palestinian people receive the solidarity and support of people around the world, not least here in Ireland, but unfortunately it is no match to the military support supplied to Israel by the US and UK.
The Workers’ Party will continue to support the cause of Palestinian nationhood and urges all progressive-minded people to do the same, regardless of what those intent on scuppering that ambition might try to do to suppress our expressions of solidarity.