A ‘Peace for Palestine’ rally was held outside Birkenhead Central Library from 2pm yesterday afternoon. Around 200 people gathered to listen to speakers talk about the issues surrounding Palestinian peoples’ plight.
Piara Miah, Outreach Co-ordinator at Wirral Deen Centre, said, “Our collective vision for our community is to help it flourish based on strong friendship between people of all backgrounds and faiths. We pray that this could also happen between people of all faiths in the holy lands of Palestine and Israel and put an end to this long standing problem.”
The speakers were Layal, an 11 year old asylum seeker from Palestine, living in Birkenhead with her mum. A teenager called Zubeda also from Birkenhead, Jo Bird, Labour Councillor for Bromborough, Pat Cleary, Green Councillor for Birkenhead and Tranmere, Neil and Paul from the National Education Union, and Amirah Scarisbrick.
Cllr Pat Cleary said, “The treatment of the Palestinians is a grave injustice and it’s important to call out such behaviour whenever we come across it.” He continued, “It’s important that the people who are suffering know that their plight is recognised right across the world and there are millions of people demanding change and justice for Palestine”
In his speech, Cllr Cleary said that the latest outbreak of hostilities in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories has to be seen in the context of the expansionist and settlement policies of the Israeli government which show an utter disregard for international law. “The Green Party has long supported the struggle of the Palestinian people and will continue to do so. We are proud to join with all those who stand with the Palestinian people and their determined and courageous struggle for human rights and national self-determination.”, he said.
In her speech, Cllr Jo Bird said, “As well as being elected as Labour Councillor for Bromborough, I am also Jewish. My Jewish great grandparents fled European fascism for safety in England. Some perished in the Holocaust. Some of my Jewish family and friends live in Israel and Palestine. brave teenagers like Antalya who refuse to serve in the Israeli Army of occupation.”
“After the Holocaust, many Jewish refugees were turned away from the UK and other countries. The new state of Israel made laws so Jewish people like me have the right to return, to make aliyah. Most Jewish people in the world do not live in Israel.
“It’s not in our name that the Israeli government kills Palestinian children like Tala, Rula and Yara. But the current state of Israel does not allow the human right of return for Palestinian refugees and their children, like my friend Fadl. State violence, oppression and racist laws continue at Israel’s borders and between the river and the sea.
“When we chant Palestine shall be free… Free from what? Free from oppression, apartheid, occupation and war.
What can we do in this country where we live. Stop making the situation worse than we have already. Stop trading arms with one side.
“We demand that our government and pension funds Stop selling instruments of death and destruction. Stop investing and profiting from the arms trade with oppressive regimes.”
After the event, Cllr Cleary told birkenhead.news, “As Chair of the Merseyside Pensions Committee I have been working with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and fellow councillors to highlight pension investments in companies that have dealings with the occupied territories. I hope that more people will lobby their councillors to act on this matter following yesterday’s event.”
Speaking to Cllr Jo Bird after the event, she said, “The event has been organised by many different and diverse members of our community in Birkenhead for Peace for Palestine, cross-community, cross-party and people of all faiths, to show solidarity with Palestine – a shared desire for peace in Palestine.”
As the recently re-elected Labour Councillor for Bromborough, Jo told us that many of her constituents had talked to her expressing their concerns about human rights and justice around the world and Palestine in particular. “I am Jewish and I have friends and family who live in Israel and Palestine.” On her affinity with the Palestinian people, she said, “I’m here at today’s rally because my great-grandparents fled as refugees from oppression in Europe.”
“So long as countries like the UK and the Us continue to support one side and provide so much weaponry, the occupation of Palestine will carry on.”
After the speakers had finished, many people remained and continued the conversation. Cllr Jo Bird summed up the event; “It’s a very diverse gathering and there’s lots of people having conversations and learning from each other. It’s a brilliant cross-community event and we hope that inspires more events like this and more communities to come together and work together, for justice and human rights for everybody.”