9th June, 2007 – London

National Demonstration Against the Israeli Occupation of Palestine

Today was the main Palestine demonstration of the year which coincided with the 40th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of Palestine

These Jews were on the side of the Palestinians. They seemed reluctant to look directly into anyone’s camera, or even at anyone for that matter

A film maker wanted to interview one of them but for some reason the Jew said he couldn’t “work” today (a religion thing perhaps? I didn’t quite catch the conversation at this point), so the film maker asked him if it would be OK for him to talk to someone else instead while he was filmed, rather than talking directly to the film maker. The Jew agreed, and since I was nearby I volunteered to ask the questions.

If my memory serves me right, this is the website of the film maker. He’s going to send me info at which point I’ll update this blog with it.

That says ‘Facist’ in case you were unsure

The man below was questioning the policeman about why Israel has been occupying Palestine. It was quite funny actually – the policeman noticed me and told the guy that I wanted to take a picture of him to divert his attention I presume, and he said ‘I don’t care about that! I want to talk to you about Palestine!’. Poor policeman

The usual policeman with super big camera was there to photograph protesters while the policewoman next to him made a note of people. They’re not very subtle at all – I overheard them saying loudly ‘Oi, did you get a picture of that guy with the hat – I think you should’.

I asked what their purpose is and basically they’re there to take shots of people which they can refer to if any trouble occurs. Makes sense I guess. And yes I’m aware the above shot is rubbish in every aspect – composition, focus and subjects, but hey, I’m ill – I’m allowed the occasional crap picture. Oh, and I liked his uniform. All policemen should wear that.

I like this next one

Walking towards Trafalgar Square before the protesters began marching, I noticed this

Israeli supporters had set up a counter-demonstration. Hm, interesting.

Not the best composition but I’d told these people I’d post their picture here

I spoke to some of the demonstrators – they weren’t there to cause problems. They simply wanted to have their say while the Palestinian supporters had theirs. Fair enough.

The Palestine demo had been organised by Enough Occupation – notice how the Israeli supporters use ‘Enough!’ in their placards.

Inevitably it served to provoke them, and the Palestinian supporters hadn’t expected to see a counter-demonstration. I think it caught the policemen off-guard as well

These two below ignored the taunts of the opposition and continued singing

There were a lot of unhappy people at the sight of the Israeli supporters. The police did their best to move them along

In fact, it’s why I stood across the street on the same side as the Israel supporters. The policemen weren’t letting anyone, photographers included, hang around. One policeman even shouted at me Well, OK, he didn’t shout – he said ‘I’m doing my job and I’m not telling you, I’m asking you to move’ – to which I said ‘and I’m asking you if I can stay’. No, it didn’t work. Thinking about it, if he was asking me to move, then surely that meant I had a choice as to whether to move or not, but obviously I didn’t, which meant he WAS telling me after all.

This woman barely had time to take a picture of the Israel protesters as she was moved on by the policewoman. I guess they didn’t want to give any protesters from either side any time to start arguments

It didn’t stop people from taunting though – coming mostly from the pro-Palestinians I have to say. I didn’t manage to catch any really aggressive behaviour on camera but there were people swearing at the Israeli supporters, and at one point someone even mimicked the Hitler salute. (Policemen noticed and I think they arrested the person.)

However, by the same token, this was meant to be their protest, and the sight of pro-Israel supporters was bound to be ill-received. Then again, there’s a small thing called freedom of speech.

I can understand the frustration of these demonstrators, turning a corner and being faced with your opposition. Not ideal!

He appeared completely bemused – funny character

In Trafalgar Square..

There was a pretty big turnout, although I didn’t hang around for too long. I love photographing protests and while I usually get right inside the action, I stayed back a bit on this one – mainly because I’ve had an evil cold for the past few days which definitely hindered my photographic ability. There was still a good atmosphere from what I saw. I spoke to quite a few people as I guess I usually do, which is always interesting.

Mr Flickr guy – it was nice to be recognised by you. Message me so I know who you are!

There are quite a few protests coming up I believe – summer is the season of protests after all. So, watch this space for more demo pics..

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