It is mid-2012 and in Palestine the 64 year-long struggle against Israel’s political, economic, and cultural occupation and violence continues with an ever-increasing intensity. The state of Israel, supported by central London’s powerful political elite, continues to control the discourse on the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Though it attempts to drown out the voices of millions across the world calling for an end to its racist programme of Zionism, grass roots groups the world over are fighting in solidarity with Palestine, to lay bare the workings of Israeli oppression, and so to end it.
On 1st June 2012 one of central London’s lost and abandoned buildings was reclaimed from the shame of disuse by and for the community, to be transformed into a radical centre for discussion, action, and education around the issue of Palestine. We call it Palestine Place.
We have already had a host of incredible events, from renowned Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe, to the first UK interview, by live video stream from Palestine, with inspirational and victorious Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan, to film screenings, discussions of political clowning in Palestine, spoken word artistry, culinary marvels and of course the odd lecture. Actions have spontaneously sprouted from within the space, like Tuesday’s protest across central London against the continued detention, without charge or trial, of Mahmoud Sarsak, who has been on a staggering hunger strike since 19th March. We run regular introductory workshops on the topics of ‘Israeli apartheid’ and the ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ movement, an informative discussion space for the expert and uninitiated alike. We are a public space – we are yours to use and enjoy, to teach and learn in, and for all of us to learn from.
The foundational politics of our action of solidarity is unified by the three basic demands of Palestinian civil society in their call for a boycott of Israel (BDS Movement):
• An end to the occupation and colonisation of all Arab lands occupied since 1967.
• Equal Rights for Palestinian Citizens of Israel (1948 Palestine).
• Respecting, protecting, and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their lands as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.
Palestine Place is already an inspiration to everyone involved and more besides, and we can say this without arrogance because it does not belong to us. It is open and directly democratic. All important decisions are made through consensus after an open group discussion, to which everyone is invited and all are welcome to express their opinion. Despite (perhaps because of) having no central organisational committee, Palestine Place has grown and sprawled organically along horizontal lines of communication and self-organisation, which create order out of an abundance of creative chaos and set a precedent for a new kind of non-violent resistance, combining building occupation, skill sharing, discussion, art and direct action. We all contribute to the wellbeing of the place and each other, while claiming full responsibility for actions within and without, for example by instituting and maintaining our ‘safer spaces’ policy, aimed at combating sexism and racism within the space. Palestine Place, reaching the end of the first week of its existence, is becoming a mature and legitimate form of active, political, peaceful resistance.
We invite the public to come and share this space with us, and we invite activists, NGOs, academics, and direct action groups as well as all other interested parties to bring their support and knowledge to Palestine Place and to take part in this incredible event.
Facebook: Palestine Place
24 Grays In Road
Nearest tube: Chancery Lane, Central Line.