On Saturday 2 June, in one of the busiest parts of London, Palestine arrived with a bang. A group of activists took over an unoccupied building and turned it into Palestine Place.
Until June 17, in the City of London, one of the financial centres of the world – where getting a credit card is as easy as buying a loaf of bread, where individualism, self-interest and profit before people have become the main mantras – Palestine Place will remind people that solidarity, sharing and caring for others are still relevant and a better, more equitable world is still possible.
So what is Palestine Place? Why is it different than anything we’ve seen before and what does it mean for us and the people of Palestine?
The first thing the people behind the initiative did was to issue a political statement.
‘The state of Israel, supported by central London’s powerful political elite, continues to control the discourse on the ethnic cleansing of Palestine,’ reads a key paragraph of the statement. ‘Though it attempts to drown out the voices of millions across the world calling for an end to its racist programme of Zionism, grass-roots activists the world over are fighting in solidarity with Palestine, to lay bare the workings of Israeli oppression and so to end it.’
One of the main ideas behind Palestine Place is to show everyone that what is happening in Palestine has parallels all over the world and that people of Europe are also suffering from oppression, occupation and colonialism. It also aims to show that our actions, and the actions of our governments, are important and have an impact far wider that some people would like to imagine.
Hiding behind ‘ethical codes’ British corporations such as G4S, with the avail of the British government (guess who runs most of the security for the Olympics?) are actively helping Israel in its daily oppression of the Palestinian People.
While those in power continue to use divide and rule strategies to create infighting between people of different classes, ethnicities and political views, Palestine Place is here to remind them that those old tactics will not work any more.
Palestine Place is open to everyone and belongs to everyone. There is no organization behind it and all the activists behind the project are there in personal capacities. It has become a hub of creativity, discussions and possibility for radical change. Decisions are always taken after long meetings where everyone has a chance to speak and express their viewpoints.
Palestine Place has no leaders. It is democratic and organic. Everyday, people come here to talk, to listen to speakers, to take part in workshops, to cook, read stories and play music. Palestine Place is a place to be. To be oneself, to be with others, to be united.
Even some mainstream newspapers, including those in Israel, have started to take notice.
Palestine Place will close soon, but its impact will empower people for years. We, the the 99%, are miles ahead of the 1% despite what they believe.
We have the numbers, the moral high ground, and the will to fight until it’s over.
And, ultimately, we have the power.
Frank Barat is a concerned individual who lives in London. You can follow him on twitter @frankbarat22. You can follow Palestine Place on twitter @PalestinePlace.
Photo of Palestine Place by Frank Barat.