I spoke this afternoon as a representative of the Jewish Socialists’ Group and the bloc of Jewish organisations that marched together on the anti-Trump demonstration in London today. After the massive mobilisation for the women’s demo on 21 January and the huge emergency protest at Downing Street on Monday night, it was important to keep the pressure up on Trump and May. The Stop the War Coalition and Stand Up to Racism allied with several Muslim organisations in calling today’s demonstration.
It was a lively demo with a young demographic, despite poor weather at the start. The mobilisation received a blow yesterday when one of the prominent organisers of last Monday’s demo, who has a significant media profile, (Owen Jones), tweeted that he wouldn’t be marching today, citing his strong political criticisms of the groups calling today’s protests – groups he has been very happy to work with in recent years.
It was a deliberate, cynical, arrogant and egotistical attempt to sabotage the march. If he felt that strongly he could have stayed away and told us why on Monday. Or, alternatively, he could have come along to show solidarity with the victims of Trump’s policies and discussed his misgivings while protesting. I was not impressed, nor were any people I discussed it with.
The movement against Trump is involving new forces who want to publicly show their revulsion at Trump’s aggressive actions so soon after he assumed the presidency, and they want to show their anger at our Prime Minister’s obsequious attitude to the new incumbent of what she keeps describing as “our most important ally”. Of course the organisers of a demonstration influence the tone of it, but the people who come are not robots and will show if they do not appreciate how it is being run. It was very clear to me from the platform that what the diverse speakers were collectively saying was very enthusiastically received and touched the mood that many feel. It wasn’t as large as the earlier protests, and inflated claims of numbers are unhelpful, but it was young, it was lively, it was united and it felt meaningful. Here was my speech:
“I bring greetings from the Jewish Socialists’ Group and from all the Jewish organisations who are here today. We live in a world where too many people would like Jews and Muslims to be enemies. We are here as Jews to express our complete solidarity with Muslims threatened and victimised by Donald Trump’s racism. You are our sisters and brothers, our friends and neighbours and as Jews we stand by you.
We stand also with the Mexican people – mainly catholic – bearing the brunt of Trump’s racism. And, as Jews, who know something about being refugees, we give total solidarity to all refugees, of all nationalities, and of all faiths and none, who are being kept out of that tiny overcrowded country called the USA, and enduring humiliating and inhuman border controls.
We are proud that American Jews voted overwhelmingly against Trump. They recognised him, and the white supremacists and Christian fundamentalists he collected around him during his campaign, as anti-Semites. But this wasn’t just self-interest. American Jews were very prominent in the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. When they reject Trump today, they are also rejecting his racism against others, his sexism, his attacks on the environment, and the naked greed of corporations that he will strengthen at the expense of the poor.
We know our history. When we heard what he was doing to Muslims we remembered the Jewish refugees during the holocaust turned away by America, and sent back to Europe to add to the funeral pyre. We also know how few Jews were allowed to enter Britain after Hitler came to power in Germany. When they finally allowed some to enter in 1938/39 the Daily mail, and Daily Express were screaming and shouting about “Alien Jews pouring in, over-running the country”, and all that shit.
Before she became PM Theresa May spent six years as Home Secretary. Her appalling record towards refugees than was as bad as her predecessors in the 1930s towards Jews. Trump and May are made for each other.
We know from the brilliant demos over the last couple of weeks – the women’s march and the huge demo here on Monday, that Trump has very few friends in the world. And a lot of enemies. But one of his friends will be here on Monday, the prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, butcher of Palestinians, prime minister for the settlers, for the occupiers but not for the ordinary people of Israel and certainly not for the Jewish diaspora. Netanyahu is no friend of ours. This warmonger does not speak in our name. Be here to greet him on Monday!
Last point. May and Trump can talk about how to help rich corporations grown richer. Netanyahu and Trump can talk about building walls. We are the Jews who know nothing about walls but who know everything about barricades. And our message to Maggie May, to warmonger Netanyahu, to racist Trump, is No Pasaran! They Shall Not pass!”