British Palestinian peace activist: October 7 terror attack was ‘a betrayal’

John Aziz said the atrocities had ‘destroyed trust’ between Israelis and Palestinians


A British Palestinian peace activist has called the terrorist attack Hamas carried out on October 7 “a betrayal of any Palestinian advocating for peace”.

John Aziz, an analyst of Middle East politics and history, was speaking at a human rights rally in Brighton.

Aziz, who is also a musician, said: “The terrorist attack by Hamas on October 7 came as a huge a shock to me. It was not just a betrayal of innocent Israelis, Jewish people and migrant workers from across the globe who were brutally attacked. It was also a betrayal of any Palestinian advocating for peace.”

He said that every death and hostage taken “destroyed trust between our communities”.

Describing October 7 as “a disaster”, he told the crowd that the attacks had “pushed me to speak out more forcefully against terrorism, and against the idea that Palestinians must fight against Israel forever”.

Aziz, who has openly condemned the October 7 attacks on Twitter/X, added that for Palestinians, “the ongoing war in Gaza is also causing deep wounds that will take a long time to heal” and expected “a long and difficult road ahead” towards peace.

The Lights for Human Rights rally during Chanukah was organised by Jewish and Proud, a group a local Israelis, British Jews and non-Jews.

Rabbi Andrea Zanardo from Brighton & Hove Reform Synagogue, who spoke, said it was a stand against terrorism and an opportunity to pray “for a world where light triumphs over darkness”.

Gilad Mandelboim from Queers for Israel hit out at “woke people [trying] to silence everyone they don’t agree with” and spoke specifically of “the betrayal of the LGBTQ community” he had encountered since October 7.

Brighton has a long history of anti-Israel activity. The Brighton & Hove Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, which was founded in 1997, is one of the largest of the 60 affiliate groups in the UK and since October 7, has held a number of anti-Israel demonstrations.

The day after the terrorist attacks, Hanin Barghouthi, a women’s officer at a Sussex University students’ union told an anti-Israel rally that the attacks by Hamas were “beautiful” and “inspiring”. She is due to stand trial next summer for supporting a proscribed terrorist organisation. She has entered a plea of not guilty.

In November, Sussex University’s student union passed a motion, calling Israel “an apartheid state” and accused it of  “ethnic cleansing”.

Lights for Human Rights rally co-organiser Michal Neta told the crowd: “The world is not binary. There are pockets of sheer evil that find shelter, thrive, and take root in the meadows of the good and noble.”

She called on the residents of Brighton, “a city synonymous with the values of pluralism, morality, and progressive ideals…. to rise and ensure you stand on the right side of history… Please be bold and take this journey.”

The vigil was supported by prominent figures from the Iranian and Ukrainian communities. Iranian-born journalist and human rights activist, Vahid Beheshti, who went on a 72-day hunger strike between February and May to put pressure on the UK government to proscribe the IRGC, spoke about the dangers of extreme Islamism, and Kira Makohon, chair of Stand for Ukraine in Brighton and Hove, linked the situation in Ukraine to that in Israel, where she has relatives.

Brighton resident Adam Ma’anit, a British Israeli,whose cousin, Tzachi Idan, is still held hostage in Gaza, told the harrowing story of his family members who endured the atrocities on October 7. Idan’s daughter Mayaan was shot and killed when a bullet was fired through the door of their safe room. Mr Ma’anit called for the urgent release of the abductees – numbering over 110 – still in Gaza.

Among the participants was Fiona Sharpe, community liaison for Sussex Jewish Representative Council, who told the JC: “We stood together as one and called for a better world, where we’re not afraid to name the evil but know that peace has to be the only answer.

“It is only by standing together and showing solidarity for one another that we will ever win the war against bigotry, homophobia, racism, tribalism, misogyny, evil and hate - and the one that too many liberal so-called progressives seem to have such a hard time with - the oldest hatred, antisemitism.”



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