Viva Palestina’s convoy for Gaza
IF THE supporters of Israeli apartheid hoped that the ceasefire in Gaza would see a decline in the support for the Palestinian cause then they will have been severely disappointed.
In Britain, where solidarity brought upwards of 150,000 people on to the streets in early January, the movement of support has continued. A number of universities have seen successful student occupations. Meanwhile, almost ignored by the mainstream national media, a remarkable movement of aid and solidarity is developing under the name of Viva Palestina.
Originating with George Galloway, the Respect Party member of parliament who so-memorably clashed with Senator Norm Coleman over the Iraq war in May 2004, the Viva Palestina aid and solidarity convoy has struck a chord with thousands of people, mainly but by no means exclusively, from Britain's Muslim community.
In just short of four weeks, the convoy has grown to include over 100 vehicles including a fire engine, donated by the Fire Brigades Union, 12 ambulances and even a boat intended for Gazan fishermen. Local mosques, churches and restaurants have become collection points for donations of clothes, blankets and children's toys to fill the numerous donated trucks and vans.
Across the country, immense public meetings have been held to rally support for the convoy. With 1000 turning out to hear George Galloway speak in Bolton, 600 in Manchester, 500 in Birmingham and many elsewhere, these are some of the largest political meetings seen for years. During these events and at numerous fund-raising benefits, tens of thousands of pounds have been raised to buy much needed medical and reconstruction supplies in Egypt.
But the convoy is not just about aid. It is about raising the banner of solidarity across Europe and North Africa--and indeed beyond--so as to put political pressure on the rulers of Egypt. We are traveling into Gaza via the Rafar crossing, the gates of which were so disgracefully kept sealed during the Israeli assault.
We intend to pile up the pressure as the convoy travels through France, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, and then through Egypt into Gaza. Many more supporters will be flying out to meet the convoy in Cairo.
So now, in Gaza's darkest hour, we are asking for your support. Please help us by publicizing the Viva Palestina convoy with your friends, family and workmates. You can visit our Web site at www.vivapalestina.org, where you can get more information, watch video highlights of meetings about the convoy and make online donations.
We have already received thousands of dollars in donations from supporters in the U.S.--for which we are most grateful.
The convoy will depart from London's Parliament Square on Saturday, February 14--our very own Valentine to Palestine. We are grateful for any support that you can give.
The people of Gaza and Palestine must not be forgotten. Viva Palestina.
Clive Searle, Greater Manchester Respect and Viva Palestina