Students walk out for Palestine in Birmingham

Hundreds of school and university students across Britain have joined walkouts and protests in solidarity with Palestine.

Around 250 joined a school strike in Birmingham and there were also walkouts in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

In Brighton the protest was organised by a group called Parents4Palestine Brighton. Spokesperson Saoirse said about 60 to 70 children turned up, mainly from secondary schools but also from primary schools and nurseries.

At least 350 primary and secondary school children and their parents rallied outside Hackney Town Hall in east London on Friday. They made speeches, flew Palestinian flags and held up handmade placards.

Throughout the rally people chanted, “Rishi Sunak’s a wasteman,” “From the river to sea, Palestine will be free,” and, “One, two, three, four—occupation no more. Five, six, seven, eight—Israel is a terrorist state.”

Ten-year-old Thor left school to come to the protest. “I’m here for the children in Gaza,” he told Socialist Worker. “More people protesting puts on more pressure for this to stop. I’ve been to all the protests in central London too.

“I’m glad people from my school have also decided to protest. Our school hasn’t said anything about Palestine. We’ve not had an assembly.

“It makes me sad and ashamed that I live in a country that supports children and their families being killed. I can’t go to school while children are being killed. I’ll keep protesting.”

Nadine, Thor’s mother, was at the protest to “stand in solidarity with our children”. “If we say nothing, we’re part of the problem,” she said. “We know our children have a voice, so now they can make a difference. 

“Hearing the children making speeches makes me emotional. This isn’t just an Arab or Muslim issue, it’s something everyone should care about and speak up about.

“It’s a great initiative. There was a call for a protest then a WhatsApp group was set up for people to join. Parents are sharing their children’s placards, and we’re not all from the same schools. It makes you feel united.”

School student Aisha told Socialist Worker, “This is not a war. It’s ethnic cleansing. It’s not two equal sides fighting each other. Israel makes up lies too, that Palestinians rape people and kill babies. That’s what Israel is doing.

“This talk about a ceasefire is a lie too. In the days before they’ve bombed even harder—and afterwards they’re going to bomb again.

“It’s about more than just a ceasefire. Palestinians aren’t seen as human. Israel is banning them from collecting rain water and calling them animals.”

Zara added, “We want Palestine to be free. They keep saying Israel has a right to defend itself. But defend itself from what? They have one of the biggest militaries in the world.

“Israel isn’t trying to get rid of Hamas—it’s trying to get rid of Palestinians. That’s why it’s attacking people in the West Bank too. Palestine has been under attack for over 75 years—longer counting British colonialism.”

She added, “We’re told at school to be non-political and stay neutral. This isn’t two equal sides against each other. We’re allowed to fundraise for Ukraine, but not for Palestine.”

Khadija is angry that her school has done nothing. “They only started noticing when we protested,” she said. “But Muslims are stereotyped as terrorists. We stand up and fight and we’re the bad ones. It’s countries like Israel that are the terrorists.” 

We need to keep up the mass mobilisations and militancy. 

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