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Editorial: Defy Braverman and march for Palestine

THE mass movement against the war in Gaza and British complicity in Israel’s crimes has clearly rattled the Tory government.

Thus the Tories look likely to respond as they always do — by state repression. It now seems a serious possibility that Home Secretary Suella Braverman will seek to prohibit the march to the US embassy on Saturday.

The organisations leading this movement would be entirely correct if they decide to defy this attack on the right to protest.

The reasons being adduced for the ban are beyond specious. First, it was supposed to be defiling Remembrance Sunday. But the protest is a day earlier, on a Saturday like all the preceding Palestine solidarity demonstrations.

Then it was going to upset the marking of Armistice Day, which this year falls on a Saturday. Yet the proposed march is well away from the Cenotaph.

Moreover, the rest of life goes on as normal on Armistice Day. The Lord Mayor’s parade is being held in the City of London, with no suggestion of disrespect.

So too football matches and other entertainments. It is absurd that the only thing deemed unsuitable for Armistice Day is a march for an armistice.

Then the argument shifts to a fear of disorder. There have been vast demonstrations in London over the last month without any violence and only a very small number of arrests.

The only risk of disorder comes from those far-right elements, pumped up by wild media coverage and by Braverman herself, who might seek to disrupt a peaceful march.

Indeed, the Home Secretary has given the game away when expressing her approval for the Metropolitan Police’s request that the demonstration be “postponed.”

She wrote: “The hate marchers need to understand that decent British people have had enough of these displays of thuggish intimidation and extremism.”

It is, of course, certain that Braverman does not speak for decent British people at all. But it is also evident that her slanderous arguments would apply not just to this coming weekend but to all protests in solidarity with Palestinians at any time.

Braverman is an established enemy of civil liberties and, in particular, the right to peacefully protest. She stands on the most authoritarian wing of the Conservative Party.

She is also a bitter opponent of justice for the Palestinian people. Doubtless, she regards the protests which have involved hundreds of thousands of citizens as offensive — she may indeed regard the continued existence of the Palestinian people as offensive too.

Thus it is no surprise that she has placed relentless pressure on the police to find a reason to ban Saturday’s protest. Everyone should understand that any decision to try to scrap the protest is exclusively driven by right-wing Tory politics, whatever the talk about this being an “operational decision” for the police.

Much of the right-wing media is also itching to see the police crack heads at these demonstrations. They have been attempting to stoke up a confrontation for this weekend.

All want to see the powerful solidarity movement lose momentum.

The only proper response is to assert the democratic right to protest in spite of this pressure. Backing down would allow authoritarianism the upper hand, and accelerate the atrophying of our rights.

Moreover, the suffering of the people of Gaza demands continuing assertions of popular solidarity. There is a deep rage across the country at the bland endorsement of the Israeli attack by the bipartisan political elite.

Denied the right to march peacefully, that anger risks exploding in other ways. The organisers should stand firm, and we should all support them.

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