Ghadeer, from Aswat, spoke about how Israeli LGBT groups had failed to take up the issue of Palestine, so that forming Aswat became necessary. She stressed that the main issue for Aswat’s members was their oppression as Palestinians, not as LGBT people.
She spoke movingly about the severe oppression of Palestinians living inside Israel in the last few months. As she explained, they have faced what the highest levels of exclusion and violence they have ever experienced. People have lost their jobs for making comments on social media. They have had no expression of sympathy from Israelis. There has been unprecedented police brutality on demos. Many people have been arrested violently and held for between 30 and 50 days. Marchers were outnumbered by armed police who used tear gas and rubber bullets. Protesters were sprayed with diluted sewage mixed with pepper spray.
Ghadeer stressed that Palestinians have no democratic rights or freedom of speech, and stressed how important international support was for the Palestinian people.
Asked if it was possible for Aswat to work with the Israeli left, she replied that even most “left” Israelis wouldn’t use the word “occupation” to describe what was happening in Palestine. Aswat has been excluded from events organised by the Israeli “left” in the last few months. They are a tiny number of Israeli individuals and organisations who stand wth Palestinian people against occupation.
Sarah Schulman spoke about the movement in America – a country which is, as she put it, “paying for all of this” by arming Israel. She is a member of Jewish Voice for Peace, an organisation which has grown recently from 40 to 70 local groups. Sarah stressed that many American Jews feel that Israel doesn’t represent them.
The meeting heard from groups campaigning around Palestine, talking about the work they do in solidarity with Palestine and talking about how people could get involved. Groups included:
- No to Pinkwashing
- London Palestine Action
- Palestine Solidarity Campaign
- Haringey Justice for Palestine
- National Union of Students