Campaigners including MP Caroline Lucas and charities today signalled a call for British politicians to support a new Gaza aid flotilla amid growing pressure for Israel to end its illegal occupation of Palestine.
As the flotilla gathered in the Mediterranean, activists took their own boat across the Thames to display a banner outside the Houses of Parliament demanding “Freedom for Palestine”, the title of a hit song poised for official release on Sunday.
Aboard the Westminster boat were Lucas and representatives from the charities War on Want and A Just Peace for Palestine. Other groups joined the river crossing, such as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Friends of Al Aqsa, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions UK, Stop the War Coalition and Trust Greenbelt.
The single Freedom for Palestine was launched under the musicians’ name OneWorld for pre-orders on 31 May, the anniversary of the Israeli raid on the first Gaza flotilla, in which Israeli troops killed nine activists and injured more than 50 others.
Over 250,000 people have viewed the music video. The song has also been endorsed by South African human rights activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and personalities including musicians Roger Waters, Billy Bragg, Robert del Naja (Massive Attack), Lowkey and Sami Yusuf, filmmaker Ken Loach, actor Julie Christie, writers Benjamin Zephaniah and Alice Walker, and comedian Mark Thomas.
Ethical cosmetics company Lush has backed the single. It gained US notoriety, after a tirade by Fox broadcaster Glenn Beck, who called the track “evil”.
OneWorld features Dave Randall (Faithless/Slovo), Jamie Catto (1 Giant Leap), Maxi Jazz (Faithless), LSK, the Durban Gospel Choir and musicians from around the globe. The track has been remixed by notable dance producers, including the ‘That’s My House mix’ by Phil Jones from Specimen A, a Drum and Bass mix by Dan Birch and a mix by Disco Nutter.
Randall said: “We are doing this musical stunt today in solidarity with the flotilla, which is taking vital aid to besieged Palestinians in Gaza. We need to break the siege of Gaza, but also break the silence on Palestine in the UK and hope that the Freedom for Palestine single will do just that. If Freedom for Palestine gets into the charts it would send a message to all those who lend economic or political support to Israel, that a critical mass of people in the UK want to see an end to the Israeli occupation”.
Caroline Lucas is among a number of MPs who have endorsed the flotilla. The others are Sir Gerald Kaufman, Jim Dowd, Joan Ruddock, Bob Russell, Alex Cunningham, Jeremy Corbyn, Karen Buck, John Leech, Cathy Jamieson, Ian Lavery, Emily Thornberry and Marsha Singh.
Caroline Lucas said: “Gaza remains under a siege which impacts on everything from vital health care to the economy. Freedom Flotilla 2 is a reminder to the Israeli authorities that some of us will continue to challenge this and other human rights violations. It is also an act of solidarity with the Palestinian people. I support the flotilla’s peaceful actions to break the illegal siege and to fight for justice and freedom.”
Russell, who earlier this month visited the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, said: “The record Freedom for Palestine will hopefully draw the attention of the world to what is happening to the Palestinian people. I wish Godspeed and good luck to those who will be embarking on the flotilla to Gaza.”
Freedom Flotilla 2, dubbed “Stay Human”, is sailing to the Gaza Strip this weekend in defiance of the illegal Israeli blockade of the coastal fragment of Palestine. At least 10 ships, with others to follow later, intend to set sail from the rendezvous in Greece.
Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip has been ongoing for years, aided by Egyptian and Western governments. A US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks in January showed that Israel's siege upon Gaza aimed to keep Gaza's economy functioning “at its lowest possible level without getting a humanitarian crisis”.
People can pre-order or buy the single from iTunes or HMVDigital via www.freedomoneworld.com