Israel’s aggression into Palestinian territory is almost entering into the third month with no immediate solution in sight. 53 days of unrelenting aggression and war crimes have resulted in the deaths of more than 15000 Palestinians, more than half of them are children, while 7000 or so are still missing under the rubble. Israel’s unabashed use of big bombs, sometimes as big as 2000-pound bombs, on civilian areas, is nothing but a display of war crimes. Amidst all this chaos and violence against innocent people, the leaders of the “international community” have stood by and watched as Palestinians are slaughtered in scores.
Many countries in Europe and the United States extended their support for Israel’s violent invasion of the Gaza Strip.
The international community justified Israel’s actions as its right to defend itself against terrorism, refusing to hold Israel accountable for their oppression and violence. The Western powers are supporting Israel in spite of Israel’s clear history of settler colonial activities, including driving indigenous people from their ancestral lands and carrying out frequent acts of violence and mass murder.
However, despite the diplomatic immunity provided by the governments of these many European countries, their public has refused to accept their state’s official narratives on the conflict. Ever since October 7 and the beginning of Israel’s aggression, the world has witnessed a new wave of civil resistance and protests in almost every part of the world. Human rights groups have been taking an active part in highlighting the plight of innocent Palestinian people under Israel’s brutal regime. Most importantly, many orthodox Jewish Rabbis and communities are also protesting Israel’s actions.
Pro-Palestine Jewish groups gathered in Washington to protest the ongoing bombing by Israel. Police also arrested more than 50 demonstrators, the majority of them Jews, and those rallies were addressed by Rabbis. Protestors around the globe gathered in support of the Palestinians in Gaza, denouncing the high number of civilian deaths in Israeli attacks and demanding an immediate end to hostilities and a ceasefire.
European countries have also witnessed one of the largest rallies to protest their government’s pro-Israel policies.
London-UK: Thousands of people have been marching every day in London streets to condemn Israel’s continued bombardment of Gaza and the official stance of their government to support Israel. Thousands of people peacefully marched through central London on November 11 to put pressure on their government to enact a permanent ceasefire and permit humanitarian aid to get past the Israeli blockade. Pro-Palestine demonstrators asserted that about 800,000 people participated in the march, applying pressure on the Sunak Government to support the ceasefire requests.
Paris-France: Like London, thousands marched in Paris to express solidarity with the Palestinian people. On October 22, around 15000 people gathered at Place de la Republique to call for a ceasefire and an end to Israeli bombardment. This protest was arranged even after the French court banned pro-Palestinian rallies and police cracked down on activists and protests.
Berlin-Germany: Germany banned pro-Palestinian rallies in fear that it would increase antisemitic violence, however, the decision has been criticized as biased and breaching people’s right to assembly. Police cracked down on pro-Palestinian gatherings and even resorted to force to disperse the crowd.
Stockholm-Sweden: Protestors gathered on Odenplan plaza in central Stockholm on 5th November to chant pro-Palestine slogans and demand a ceasefire. Protestors have been chanting the famous song “Leve Palestina” written by Palestinian immigrant George Totari who was exiled after the 1967 war. This song has become synonymous with Palestinian resistance and pro-Palestinian gatherings in Sweden.
Dublin-Ireland: The only country that strongly advocated for the rights of Palestine and condemned Israel’s war crimes openly in the European Union is Ireland. In a nationwide protest on 18 November, thousands of pro-Palestine demonstrators marched through the heart of Dublin, demanding an immediate cessation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip. A letter signed by over 600 academics urged universities to sever their ties with Israeli institutions.
Americans are the most vocal group in anti-Israeli and pro-Palestine protests. Activists interrupted Anthony Blinken’s speech during the senate meeting on the Israel aid package. Nikki Hailey’s speech at the University of Houston was interrupted by students who started chanting “Palestine will be free” and “you signed off on genocide” slogans and then walked out of the hall as a display of protests. Students and activists have been using this strategy on many occasions even during a press conference by President Biden. In Canada, journalists and activists have raised similar questions to Prime Minister Trudeau.
Many other non-Muslim countries have also witnessed similar levels of activism and protests against Israeli aggression and calls for a ceasefire.
In Seoul, South Korea, protestors have gathered regularly in different parts to call for a ceasefire and accuse Israel of committing genocide. The South Korean government, however, has been putting them under the spotlight. The government also refused to condemn Israel for its violence and war crimes in the United Nations. Around 4000 demonstrators gathered in Tokyo’s Shibuya district to protest and chanted “free Palestine” and “from the river to the sea” slogans and waved placards displaying ceasefire. Other countries in Asia Pacific like Malaysia, Indonesia, New Zealand, and others have also witnessed similar zeal of protests and condemnation for Israel’s violent aggression against unarmed civilians.
Social media emerged as a powerful counter-instrument against mainstream media that channeled Israel’s one-sided narrative on the October 7 attack and their attempts to showcase civilian sites as Hamas-safe bases. On Facebook, X (former Twitter), TikTok space has been used by individuals to debunk many controversial videos and claims by Israel’s apologists. Videos like beheading Children, false claims that Hamas’s own rocket fell on Al-Shifa hospital, and controversial videos regarding Palestinian women condemning Hamas and Israeli hostages being tortured by Hamas while it was the Palestinians who were abducted by IDF and tortured and abused.
These trends gained worldwide infamy as many people refused to take the mainstream narrative of big media houses. European and American citizens are the most proactive in ceasefire attempts protests and demonstrations have been held in universities, public offices, and even in front of the White House and other important official premises. This conflict has also caused a huge rift within the Jewish community. Aside from the affluent Israeli lobby of the US government, numerous left-leaning Jewish organizations have been participating in protests in the US in spite of government prohibitions. Jewish communities are becoming more polarized, reflecting broader differences in public opinion regarding the war. These divisions can be seen in families, congregations, campuses, protests, and online.
The author is a Graduate of Peace Studies from the National Defence University, Islamabad. His Focus of interest includes developmental studies, social movements & structural violence.