There was a distinct whiff of occupied Palestine in Cardiff Bay today as police declared an exclusion zone around the back entrance to the Senedd – then dealt violently with activists who entered it. The occasion was the visit of Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor, fervent apologist for Zionism and scourge of any normal sentient human being who takes exception to the racist state which employs him.
The arrested activists included Val Swain, whose brutal treatment by the South Wales Police after May’s pro-choice demo was followed by a prosecution which was thrown out of court due to the police ‘losing’ witness statements and CCTV footage of what happened at Fairwater police station.
As usual protesters were also subjected to rigorous surveillance with everybody active around the back entrance to the Senedd photographed – in contrast to the low-key policing of the main demo at the front of the Senedd where the media cameras were stationed. However, we also captured some of the action and the results can be seen here.
Prosor’s visit, and the political feeding frenzy brought about by Dafydd Elis-Thomas’ refusal to meet him, once again shattered any illusions that the assembly represents a progressive force in UK politics. Labour and Lib Dem politicians fell over themselves to berate their presiding officer, while Elis-Thomas’s own colleagues were distinctly reluctant to support him – not surprising perhaps when it was a Plaid AM, Mohammed Asghar, who invited Prosor in the first place.
Asghar’s defence for his action was that he needed to hear both sides of the story regarding Palestine. But he will hear no story from Prosor other than a robust defence of the apartheid wall, illegal settlements, the murder of US and UK volunteers, and the destruction of each and every attempt of the Palestinians to create a feasible homeland.
More likely the invitation was Asghar’s response to the climate of Islamophobia unleashed by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. What better way for Plaid’s first Muslim AM to distance himself from radical Islam than to offer the olive branch to a confirmed Zionist?
Yet again the huge underlying divisions behind the ‘party of Wales’ have been exposed by this ill-judged manoeuvre. It is to the credit of Bethan Jenkins, Leanne Wood and Helen Mary Jones that they joined the protest at the front of the Senedd – but might they not ask themselves what exactly it is that unites them with colleagues who supposedly stand for the rights of small nations but cannot bring themselves to defend a people as ruthlessly oppressed as the Palestinians?
The truth, as we have already seen with the ailing St Athan project, is that Plaid are a fully paid-up part of the UK establishment, dedicated to preserving the institutions of UK imperialism and looking after imperialism’s most important ally in the Middle East, no matter how racist its policies. We call on all socialists in Plaid to join us in building a radical socialist forum in Cardiff which will provide a springboard for the creation of a genuinely socialist force in South Wales and beyond.
For a series of Permanent Revolution articles on the Palestine conflict, and online copy of our Palestine pamphlet, see our newly refurbished main site here.