“We are all Palestinians!”
These words were chanted by several thousand demonstrators coming from all over the Paris region and including many young people, gathered at the Place de la République in Paris to express their solidarity with Palestine this Thursday. This was an important gathering held at the very moment that Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin reiterated to the French press the ban on all pro-Palestinian demonstrations and his intention to arrest protestors.
Faced with this intimidation, which topped off nearly a week of systematic criminalization of support for Palestine, the demonstrators responded with impressive determination. For several hours, the rally persisted was in a warm atmosphere, despite the fines, extensive repressive measures, and violent intimidation by the police who were trying to disperse the crowd by charging into protestors and firing tear gas.
This determination was all the more striking as almost all the labor and social movement organizations had chosen not to demonstrate due to the repression. With the exception of the Révolution Permanente activists carrying an anti-imperialist banner, the only flags waving in the square were Palestinian.
The protest, which also took place simultaneously in other cities like Bordeaux, Rennes, Lille, and Toulouse, continued until nightfall when the police charged the crowds, firing tear gas and water cannons to try to put an end to the rally. The dozen or so outrageous arrests carried out in the demonstrations following rally will not erase the show of strength displayed for the Palestinian cause.
Since Saturday there has been backlash against any expression of solidarity with Palestine, especially among the organized Left, such as the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) and La France Insoumise, party of former presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who have been accused of apologizing for terrorism and anti-Semitism. This conflation of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism only serves to criminalize the Palestinian struggle.The rally in Paris shows that it is possible to resist the government’s authoritarianism.
At the rally, Anasse Kazib, a railway worker and Révolution Permanente militant explains: “Support for Palestine is criminalized. I want to show my support for the NPA, La France Insoumise and all those under attack: we must stand up against this authoritarian offensive!”
After this initial success against this reactionary wave, there is an urgent need to build a broad front in support of the Palestinian people being bombed to death in Gaza, as well as in support of the right to demonstrate and support the Palestinian cause. This must be the priority of the labor and social movements in the days to come, from the Left organizations and trade union leaderships to the human rights, anti-racist, feminist, and environmental organizations.
First published in French on Révolution Permanente on October 12 2023.
Translation by Stacey Bear