Jewish activist on trial over “bloody hands” protest for Palestine

Pro-Palestinian campaigners with hands dyed blood red will gather at the City of London Magistrates Court on March 12th in support of a Jewish activist arrested for protesting at a celebration of Israel’s 60th anniversary last June. For almost 10 million Palestinians around the world, 70 percent of whom are refugees, the foundation of the State of Israel was a catastrophe they call the Nakba. At least 700,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes.

Representatives of several campaign groups will be monitoring proceedings when Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi from Woodford Green, Essex, contests her arrest at the Salute Israel parade through central London on 29 June 2008.

The Salute Israel parade on 29 June 2008 was organised by the British Board of Jewish Deputies and the Zionist Federation, supported by the Israeli Embassy. It was a carnival-style event culminating in a political rally in Trafalgar Square celebrating the 60 years since Israel’s foundation in 1948. As the parade passed down Haymarket she displayed the slogan “Palestinian blood on Israeli hands,” and silently held up her hands dyed red with food colouring.

In his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (One World, Oxford, 2006) Israeli historian Ilan Pappe documents the many killings of Palestinians during the year of the Nakba. He concludes (p.197): “Thousands of Palestinians were killed ruthlessly and savagely by Israeli troops of all backgrounds, ranks and ages. None of these Israelis was ever tried for war crimes, in spite of the overwhelming evidence.” Ethnic cleansing continued sporadically from 1948, reaching a crescendo in 1967, when thousands of Palestinians were again driven out by Israeli forces.

The Badil Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights records in its 2005 Survey (p.20-21): “Refugee camps in Jericho, for example, were bombed by the Israeli air force, leading to an exodus of tens of thousands of refugees. . . By the time the 1967 war came to an end 430,000 Palestinians were displaced, among them some 193,500 refugees displaced for a second time, and 240,000 residents displaced from the West Bank and Gaza Strip for the first time.”

Wimborne-Idriss explains that her action was conducted in the face of violent opposition” “Within minutes I was attacked by three separate Israel supporters, one of whom threatened to slit my throat. The police should have defended my right to freedom of expression. Instead I was arrested and charged under Section 5 of the Public Order Act with ‘causing harassment, alarm and distress’.”

Solicitor Simon Natas, representing Wimborne-Idrissi, said his client’s action had been “entirely peaceful and legitimate”.

“Her protest was intended to draw attention to the State of Israel’s abuses of Palestinian human rights,” he said. “We believe that this is a misguided prosecution that undermines the right to free speech and we will vigorously contest the charges.”

Daniel Machover, Chair of Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR), said he was concerned that a legitimate protest may be being criminalised.

“Given Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land and the persistent brutality of the Israeli authorities towards Palestinians, as witnessed in Gaza just weeks ago, supporters of these policies cannot expect their celebrations or marches to be held without reasonable dissent,” Machover said.

Organisations represented at the proceedings on Thursday will include Jews for Justice for Palestinians, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Legal Action for Women and Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, of which Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi is a founder member.

Protest starts 1.30 p.m.

Thursday March 12

City of London Magistrates Court

1 Queen Victoria Street

London EC4N 4XY

(Bank underground station)


PO Box 64002, London, E17 0HD

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