On Friday 17th November, ahead of the national day of action for Palestine, Copwatch Network hacked over 100 ad spaces at bus stops and on tubes across London. Our ad hack parodied the Met police’s authoritarian ‘wanted’ posters in which they posted photos identifying pro-Palestine protesters.
In our adhack, we sought to instead highlight the insidious role of UK politicians, arms company CEOs and key mainstream media personnel in funding, profiting from and enabling Israel’s ongoing genocide of Palestinians in Gaza and across their occupied land. The British state has blood on its hands – it’s them who should be ‘wanted’, not us.
As part of the Copwatch Network in the UK, we recognise our collective responsibility to stand in full solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for liberation and to actively resist the British state’s long-standing complicity in Israel’s settler-colonial regime.
Our struggles against policing, surveillance and mass incarceration in the UK are completely bound up in the struggle against the sharpest edges of the prison and military industrial complex in Palestine. This is why it is vital that we continue to ramp up the pressure, take direct action and mobilise our communities to fight for a free Palestine in our lifetimes.
Britain has played an instrumental role in justifying Zionist ideology and subsequently enabling Israel’s white supremacist, apartheid rule: from the Sykes-Picot agreement, in which colonial powers including the UK and France secretly decided to land-grab parts of Palestine after World War I; to the 1917 Balfour Declaration, where the British state promised Palestine to Zionists; to the British ‘Mandate’ in Palestine which all ultimately resulted in the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.
To this day, the British state continues to profit - financially and politically - from Israel’s settler-colonial project. British corporations have seen record profits in recent years, including through selling arms to Israel, whilst two-fifths of Labour’s current shadow cabinet have received donations since they became MPs from a pro-Israel lobby group.
The vile anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic rhetoric from the UK’s political and media classes have further served to manufacture consent for this genocide, with headlines across mainstream media dominated by racist and pro-Zionist narratives.
This is why we have highlighted the interconnected roles of British politicians, arms companies and the media; because ultimately we know that together, they form part of a British ruling class which has a vested political interest in oppression in the UK and worldwide, including Israel’s violent occupation of Palestine - which it has sustained for the past seventy-five years.
Now, during this latest stage of Israel’s bombardment of Palestine which has killed at least 12,000 Palestinians and labelled a ‘textbook case of genocide’ by experts in the field, Britain continues providing unconditional support. Just last week, Parliament voted against a ceasefire, despite hundreds of thousands of people turning up on the streets of the UK to demand one.
There could not be a bigger disconnect between political and corporate interests and those of the public. In our millions, people across the country are calling for an immediate ceasefire, with a recent YouGov poll indicating that 76% of adults in the UK support this demand.
Through mass protests, sit-ins, pickets outside arms factories, local community actions, and school strikes, thousands of us are also calling for an end to the occupation and a liberated Palestine - with those across struggles united in our calls - from climate justice groups, to queer collectives, to trade unions. We know our movement for Palestinian solidarity is only growing by the day. When Copwatch took action last week, commuters were overwhelmingly supportive - cheering us on and even asking to help.
The British state is afraid of our collective power, which is why it has aggressively tried to suppress this widespread dissent, using every tool at its disposal - even hypocritically complaining about being named and shamed for last week’s vote. One tool has been the violent policing of Free Palestine protests, which has included mass arrests, oppressive protest restrictions, the racist branding of these protests as 'hate marches', and protesters being charged with 'racially aggravated offences', and even hit with ‘terrorism’ charges.
In London, the Met police has started to digitally surveil and target protesters online, by posting pictures of people’s faces on social media and asking the public to help find them. But we know the police are the real perpetrators of violence, dancing to the tune of the British state and assisting the repression of Palestinian solidarity from people across the country.
Copwatch Network stands against all forms of racism, including antisemitism, Islamophobia, and anti-Blackness, and will challenge it wherever it arises in our movements. But we will not stand by whilst the British state weaponises antisemitism to try and suppress our collective movement for Palestinian liberation; a movement led by working class Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, Black and Jewish communities, and supported by those who share in our struggle.
We hope our action encourages more people to learn about the history of violent occupation in Palestine, the imperialist aims of the settler-colonial state of Israel and its Western supporters, and the British state’s long-standing complicity in enabling these injustices.
Now we must all stand in full solidarity with the people of Palestine and take action to amplify their calls: to stop arming Israel, for an immediate ceasefire, and for an end to the occupation. Only with an end to Israel’s settler-colonial, apartheid rule, the return of Palestinian land and the right of displaced Palestinians to return, can there be true justice and peace.
In the same way that systems of oppression are all connected, from policing, prisons, borders to the Military Industrial Complex, so too are our struggles for liberation. In the words of Angela Davis: “If we say we abolish the prison-industrial complex… we should also say abolish apartheid, and end the occupation of Palestine!” Because none of us are free, until we are all free.
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