Alexi Dimond spoke at the rally to Stop Genocide in Gaza at Sheffield Town Hall on Wednesday.
Here is his speech in full.
Yesterday, the Al Ahli hospital was bombed in the single most egregious act of barbarism so far in Israel’s genocidal campaign against Palestinians in Gaza. A social media advisor to the Israeli PM Hananya Naftali tweeted immediately after the attack: “Israeli Airforce struck a Hamas terrorist base inside a hospital in Gaza” and posted a picture. This has since been deleted as has an IDF post on Facebook boasting about the attack. Over 500 people and likely hundreds more were killed in this attack. Now our media is scrambling to cast doubt on who is responsible, a willing accomplice in covering up for war crimes, just as they try to obscure the truth about the history of Palestine and the occupation.
There is no new war between Hamas and Israel as our media like to claim, but rather a continuation of a 76-year-long conquest and occupation which has intensified under the most repressive right-wing Israeli government in history. The situation persists because Western governments allow Israel to flout international law and subject the Palestinian population under its occupation to racist apartheid policies and subjugation, including a 15-year-long siege of Gaza.
Western racism against Palestinians has a long history, and the dehumanisation of Palestinians is a continuation of the colonial mindset that allowed Europeans to colonise and enslave the world. In 1937 Winston Churchill said of the Palestinian people and I quote: “I do not agree that the dog in the manger has the final rights to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time, I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance that it is a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the Black people of Australia, I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher grade race, a more worldly-wise race, to put it that way, has come to take their place”. This was the real Winston Churchill, not the white-washed version venerated today.
Unfortunately, this racist worldview is one that persists to this day. It is one that informs most of the British media, and politicians from both the Conservative and Labour Parties. Let us not forget that Keir Starmer said “Israel made the desert flower”. Over the last few weeks, we have heard unequivocal support for Israel’s war crimes from both the Leadership of the Conservatives and the Labour Party. Shame on them. They are complicit in these war crimes and must be held accountable.
I salute the few brave former Labour Councillors who have left the party over their leadership’s support for genocide. Councillors such as Amna Abdullatif from Manchester, Shaista Aziz and Amar Latif from Oxford and Cllr Jessie Hoskin, from Stroud district council who said: “The Labour party is no longer consistent with the values of human dignity, equality, and a world where everyone is safe and has what they need to thrive that I believe in and will continue to organise for in other areas of my work.”
Unlike the Labour and Conservative Parties and the UK media, we reject all racism, we reject anti-Palestinian racism, we reject antisemitism, we reject Islamophobia and we reject ethnic cleansing, settler-colonialism and apartheid.
We know that international law must apply equally and that attacks on civilians and collective punishment can never be justified. We condemn our government for supporting Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza – including vetoing UN resolutions calling for a ceasefire. We are witnessing an attack on a captive civilian population of 2.3 million people, two-thirds of whom are refugees and half of whom are children with nowhere to go. Everyone in Gaza is a hostage.
We call for the release of all hostages. We also demand the release of those held in Israeli prisons – men women and children held without charge in administrative detention in contravention to international law. Every single person in Palestine must be free, free to move, free from discrimination, free from checkpoints and daily humiliation. That is what justice looks like. That is what will bring about peace.
Returning to Gaza. You don’t need to be a human rights lawyer to know that cutting off water, food and medicine, and targeting civilians are war crimes under international law. It is the definition of collective punishment, it is an act of genocide. Ordering 1.1 million people to leave their homes in less than 24 hours, and bombing them while they flee is genocide. Bombing the Rafah crossing to Egypt to stop aid from coming in and people getting out is genocide.
I urge everyone to keep protesting every day you can join groups supporting Palestinian rights, donate to Sheffield PSC, write to your MPs and councillors, let them know that you will not vote for them if they support war crimes and apartheid – and as my colleague Maliki said last night – ask them specific questions and publicise their responses. If they will not condemn occupation – out them. If they will not condemn apartheid – out them. If they will not condemn genocide – out them.