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Speech at the march for Palestine in London, 21 October 2023

22 October 2023

UCU is a long standing supporter of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign and I'm proud to be here with 300,000 of you. 

In December I visited Palestine and saw how occupation impacts on everyone, particularly children. 

Children who have never not known war. 

Who live under surveillance. 

Who know that playing in the wrong area might get you shot. 

Who live in refugee camps targeted frequently by the Israeli military. 

Who play under safety nets to prevent teargas canisters falling on them. 

Children whose experiences have led to 91% of them suffering some form of conflict-related trauma, 75% of them wetting their beds, and 70% of them having nightmares. 

Despite this, they remain children with dreams and with hopes. 

Children who sing and play. 

They are not just children of war, they remain, above all else, children. 

The events of the past two weeks are sickening. 

Thoughts are with the all the victims and their families everywhere. Especially Palestinian children terrified in Gaza, and Israeli children--especially the 30 who remain hostages--who will be terrified too. 

We sit here watching the violence and war, but to be in it, I cannot imagine. 

Everyone who is suffering deserves our empathy--we stand with you, demanding peace. 

Because one thing we do know is that violence is never the answer. 

The role this government and perhaps worst still, the Labour Party have played in pouring petrol on the fire at the worst possible moment is absolutely shameful. 

Their narrative has led to an explosion of antisemitism and Islamophobia. Solidarity to everyone targeted. 

There has to be an immediate and full ceasefire and an arms embargo on Israel.

The targeting and murder of innocent civilians has to stop.

The Western media should also be ashamed for their role in this. 

Empathy, humanity, and peace should be the driving force behind their reporting.

Instead we have seen reporting that have justified more death, horror, reprisals, Islamophobia, antisemitism, and more dead children. 

We need negotiations. And those negotiations have to be based on the history of the region, prioritising humanity, which will always mean three very simple words: 

Free free Palestine.

Last updated: 3 November 2023