IssueNovember 2009
Comment by Maya Evans

I looked out of my kitchen window as the rain belted down. I had a feeling of dread at the thought of cycling along the seafront in the wind and rain for a Hastings Against War film viewing of The Iron Wall. Weak-willed as I am, I flipped a coin; heads! Fate had decided my path of action, I was to attend the meeting.

I slipped into the back of a darkened room at the Friends Meeting House. Around a dozen people sat watching the already-started film. I hadn’t given the content much thought, but had a feeling it would be heavy going; as it unravelled I found it to be extremely interesting and yet almost unbelievable, especially about the beginnings of the Zionist movement.

In 1923, Vladimir Jabotinsky, leading intellectual of the Zionist movement and father of the right-wing of that movement, wrote: “Zionist colonisation must either stop, or else proceed regardless of the native population. Which means that it can proceed and develop only under the protection of a power that is independent of the native population – behind an IRON WALL, which the native population cannot breach.”

The documentary features settlers living in walled-off areas within Israel, explaining that reports of the conditions in which Palestinians are living have often been censored and whitewashed by Israeli expansionist propaganda.

I felt emotionally moved by the injustice and inequality suffered by Palestinians, living in ghetto slums only a few hundred yards away from pristine Israeli neighbourhoods, segregated by a huge impenetrable wall.

A picture of four maps illustrated just how badly Palestinians have been squeezed since 1946; from a country which was once entirely Palestinian to today, a few isolated settlements completely cut off from one another by the wall.

The documentary ended with a Palestinian saying he had hope for a peaceful future and justice for Palestinians. I have to admit I found it extremely hard to believe in that statement. The next morning, my friend John and I powered up Euston Road looking for Malet Street for the start of the “Remember Gaza” demo.

We heard the distant rumble of drums, and saw someone selling a copy of Socialist Worker. We turned a corner and saw the tail-end of the demo not yet in motion. I put a stride on and made my way to the front to give out leaflets for the 27 May Die-in for Afghanistan outside Northwood military base.

There was a hub of photographers surrounding half a dozen Orthodox Jews wearing the traditional garb. I felt confused: were they protesting against the protest? I walked round to check out their placards: “Zionism and Judaism are extreme opposites”; “Zionist spokesmen do not represent world Jewry”; and “Stop the Zionist massacre and persecution of the Palestinians”.

It ignited a flicker of hope within me; if these Jews can recognise the atrocities of the Israeli state and feel strongly enough to protest, then it’s possible for others to do likewise. I can’t help but feel that the international Jewish community has a stronger influence over the Israeli government than gentiles, and that Jews around the world could play a key role in bringing peace to the Middle East.

As for what’s going to happen, I suppose the coin is still in the air.

See more of: Maya Evans diary