Palestinian Solidarity in the UK: Protecting Civil & Political rights

In the face of an estimated 34,000 Palestinians killed in the last 6 months, almost 14,000 of them children, renewed enthusiasm for public solidarity movements has swept the UK. Since October, there have been regular marches calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, the largest of which was held in London on 11 November 2023 and attracted over 800,000 people, making it the biggest pro-Palestinian rally in British history. Advocacy groups have also organised local actions in cities and towns across the UK, including protests, vigils, fundraisers, sit-ins, and boycotts of companies engaged in Israeli violations of Palestinian rights.

In response to rising public criticism of the UK’s continued support of the Israeli Government, including the sale of weapons used against Palestinian civilians, the UK Government has escalated an existing pattern of aggressive legislative and policy developments designed to undermine political opposition.

The public political targeting of Palestinian solidarity as uniquely threatening has primarily been undertaken on the basis of rising antisemitism since Hamas’ attack on 7th October 2023. All communities must actively work together to tackle antisemitism and all forms of racism, and it is only correct that instances of antisemitism should be properly addressed. At the same time, accusations of antisemitism have also been used to suppress legitimate criticisms of the Israeli Government. It is the suppression of these criticisms of the Israeli Government with which we concern ourselves within this briefing. For further information, read Community Policy Forum’s briefing on antisemitism and Islamophobia here.

Ultimately, Government efforts to stifle political opposition and legitimate criticism of any government pose a serious threat to a healthy and robust democracy, as well as raise questions about the UK’s compliance with its domestic and international human rights obligations.

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