Following on from the (almost) unchallenged presence of religious fundamentalists and anti-Jewish banners on the first demonstration Irish anarchists had decided to march as a distinct bloc. We carried placards (below) reading 'End the Occupation - Support Israeli Rufuseniks' in English, Arabic and Hebrew as well as red and black anarchist flags and the banners of the three Irish anarchist organisations, Workers Solidarity Movement, Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation and Anarchist Federation. Along with lots of non aligned anarchists and others this made quite a respectable bloc of a well over a hundred, the largest distinct anarchist presence on a demonstration in Ireland to date.
Actual numbers of the march were difficult to estimate and the subject of some discussion afterwards but it appeared to be of similar size to the previous march so an estimate of 1,500 to 2,000 at peak would be reasonable. In photographing it I noticed that there were far fewer people from the Arab communities on the march this time. Also the presence of some of the left groups was weaker, presumably because they were off trying to get their leaders elected! On the other hand a lot of other people had turned out from around the country, in the anarchist bloc I talked to people from Belfast, Cork. Derry and Limerick. This national mobilisation also saw us meeting up in a pub after the march which was a chance to exchange news and information and to informally plan for future events.
In my report on the last march I commented on the presence of fundamentalists and the tensions this appeared to cause within the different Arab groups. The fundamentalist presence was also present this time as shown by the Allahu Akbar (God is great) chants that followed Mick O'Reilly's speech (which must have puzzled him!) and the presence again of a Hezbollah flag. On the march itself the anarchist bloc chanted 'No Gods, No Masters, No States, No Wars' (a traditional anarchist slogan) as well as 'Freedom for Palestine' and 'End the Occupation'.
We had heard just before we set off that five more Israeli refuseniks had been jailed on the Friday. (The refusniks are soldiers who refuse to serve beyond the 1967 border, 65 have now been jailed). Overall we wanted to emphasise the need for a solution that will unite the working class of the region against the various military dictatorships and religious states that now dominate it. There are now small anarchist groups in many of the countries of the 'middle east' , the translations for the placards were done by anarchists in Tel Aviv, Israel and Cairo, Egypt.
This march also saw a number of imaginative forms of protest. Top prize has to go to the group dressed as oil tycoons and soldiers carrying a board piled with horse shit with a US flag stuck in the centre. The slogan 'War is not the Answer' was stuck down the side to help us get the point.
Another banner highlighted Irelands role in the war effort with an image of the US Apache Helicopter Gunship under the caption '(partially) Made in Ireland'. The output of the software industry here now includes substantial amounts of code being produced for guided missiles and other military purposes, the same weekend graffiti was put up in Derry pointing this out, reading 'Palestine burns, Raython earns'.
The other issue raised by this banner is the refuelling of military planes that is continuing on at Shannon airport. Tim Hourigan reported on Irish Indymedia that the previous weekend he had seen a C-130 land there. He says of it "The C-130 Hercules is a workhorse for the military and a very versatile transporter. It can carry troops, refuelling tanks, and even the 15,000lb BLU-182 "Daisy-cutter" bomb - the world's biggest NON-NUCLEAR Weapon, basically a petrol bomb the size of a camper van, which is not dropped out of the bottom, but ejected out the rear cargo door using a big parachute." Some of the anarchists who had travelled from outside Dublin argued that we would be better off mobilising people to take direct action against this Irish involvement in the war then to march in circles around Dublin at regular intervals.
Before the demonstration many of us had been getting regular emails about a puppet called the 'Bush Monster' that the GR/SWP were building. I didn't get any decent photos of the puppet but it was accompanied by around a dozen kids dressed as Guantanamo Bay prisoners and a few SWP members dressed as soldiers and tanks. This surreal look was topped off by a women holding a placard reading 'Freedom fighters not suicide bombers'.
It is not terribly clear what Saturdays march demonstrated that the march three weeks earlier had not already shown, although possibly the organisers were hoping for a much bigger turn out as an end in itself. There is of course some value to large public demonstrations of opposition to the war but this one was very vague in terms of what it hoped to achieve. My concern would be that without a focus that can be aimed for participation in such demonstrations will slowly drop off.
This reflects a lack of meaningful discussion on the left in Ireland around the issue. The main debate tends to be the rather sterile one between those who advocate a 'two state' short term solution and those who advocate a 'secular single state'. This is obviously a very important debate for those living in and around Israel and Palestine. It is also important for those of us active in Ireland who want to aid anarchists in the region. But in Ireland we must also concentrate on how we can more effectively oppose the role of the Irish state and companies based here in supplying weapons to the Israeli and US military along with opposing the refueling of US war planes.
[A Personal report from a Workers Solidarity Movement members of an event they took part in or attended, these reports are posted to the Ainriail list when first written] Note: Pictures are ultra compressed a week or so after they are uploaded to this site to save space on the server.
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