Just a day after International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor, Karim A.A. Khan KC, applied for a series of arrest warrants to be issued including for the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Yoav Gallant, Israel’s Minister of Defence, and as new evidence comes to light of the routine torture of Palestinian prisoners by Israel, pro-Israel advocates have continued their smears against the Palestine solidarity movement.

The resumption of these baseless attacks amounts to an admission: apologists for Israel’s genocidal violence and system of apartheid have lost the democratic argument, and now fear accountability through international legal processes.

Today, John Woodcock (Lord Walney) – inaccurately described by the government as an ‘Independent Adviser on Political Violence and Disruption’ – has published his much-trailed report calling for a crackdown on democratic protests. Michael Gove has chosen the same day to deliver a speech falsely accusing those who have marched for Palestinian rights of antisemitism.

John Woodcock is a paid lobbyist for weapons manufacturers and fossil fuel companies and a former chair of Labour Friends of Israel. Several of his recommendations are transparent attempts to use the law to further his political disagreement with the recent marches in support of Palestinian rights. Others are extraordinarily draconian – including an effective ban on any protests outside council chambers.

The fact that he has come up with these authoritarian proposals is hardly surprising. Using police resources to suppress political protests might serve the interests of Woodcock’s corporate paymasters but would seriously undermine long-held democratic principles. This comes on the very day that Liberty has won a court case to prevent an unlawful attempt by the government to overturn the will of parliament and restrict the right to demonstrate. Everyone who truly cares about preserving democratic freedoms will utterly reject these proposals. This thoroughly compromised report should be allowed to gather dust in the obscurity it deserves.

Unlike Michael Gove, the organisers of the recent demonstrations against Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza have a proud track-record of challenging all forms of racism. Every single one of the fourteen London demonstrations for Palestinian rights that we have organised in the past seven months has been attended by thousands of Jewish people including an organised and highly visible Jewish bloc and Jewish speakers on every platform. At our demonstration in Hyde Park last month, Jewish Holocaust survivor, Stephen Kapos, spoke to a crowd of 200 thousand – probably the largest audience ever addressed by a Holocaust survivor in Britain. Anyone who was genuinely motivated by a desire to combat antisemitism, as opposed to cynically shield the state of Israel from legitimate accountability, would celebrate rather than attempt to dismiss these facts.

Those who continue to demonstrate against Israel’s genocide in Gaza, calling for a ceasefire, and for Palestinian human rights and international law to be upheld, are driven by consistent anti-racism. They are exercising precious democratic rights and represent the views of the vast majority of British people who, unlike the government, support these noble goals. These latest smears cannot be allowed to distract from the horrors that Israel continues to inflict on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. The British government must end its complicity with Israel’s criminal violence by halting the arms trade with Israel and give full support to both the ICC and the ongoing work of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), where Israel is currently on trial for genocide.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign,
Palestinian Forum in Britain,
Friends of AL-Aqsa,
Stop the War Coalition,
Muslim Association of Britain,
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament