On the vigil for Palestine at the DSEI arms fair in Newham

As weapons dealers prepared to descend on east London, around 100 activists joined a solidarity vigil with the Palestinians on Tuesday. It came just before the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair opens.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) organised the vigil. It brought together local activists to rage against arms sales to Israel and by Israel corporations. These weapons are battle-tested on the Palestinian people. 

Protesters were clear that the British government is complicit in enabling oppressive states such as Israel to murder and maim oppressed people. 

Yasmin from the Palestine Youth Movement told Socialist Worker, “It’s important to show we don’t welcome the merchants of death to east London. 

“At DSEI you see plainly the violence of empire and imperialism and how Britain is still at the centre of shipping out the violence to the rest of the world. 

“Bringing together different campaigns against colonialism and war to protest against the fair is a good thing,” she added. 

Protesters at the vigil held signs that read, “Resist DSEI”, “Stop arming Israel,” and “Freedom for Palestine”. 

Sybil Cock, chair of Tower Hamlets PSC, told Socialist Worker, “The arms fair is an insult to east London. London mayor Sadiq Khan once promised that he would stop the arms fair being held here.

“But he’s done nothing about it coming here time and time again. This shows very clearly where the Labour Party is when it comes to opposing war and imperialism currently.” 

She added that along with organising against the arms fair, PSC activists are planning more protests against a government bill that would mean councils are barred from boycotting Israeli goods.

 Aliyah, an activist from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, told the crowd, “The same drones sold at the fair are used against my family in Gaza. I wonder every day if I will get the call that my family members have been hurt or killed. 

“Inside that fair I’m sure people will have very polite conversations in suits. But that can’t obscure what is really going on. That can’t hide that truth that inside there they are they are selling only destruction.” 

Ben Jamal, director of the PSC, added, “This year the Israeli state has killed 200 Palestinians. To be able to sustain the brutality required to maintain apartheid and colonisation, the Israeli state needs the complicity of governments and corporations across the world.

“So we aren’t just here to stand in solidarity with the Palestinians. We are here to stand against our government and to stop the arms fair for good.”

 The vigil was the first in a series of protests and actions planned to hit back at the warmongers attending the arms fair and the British government that backs it. 

 For more info about protests and events at the arms fair go to  tinyurl.com/DSEIevents

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