Radical anti-Israel youth group plotting to disrupt King’s Speech and bring London to standstill

Youth Demand claims Keir Starmer is an ‘accomplice to genocide’


Youth Demand blockade of Oxford Circus on 22 June

The radical, pro-Palestinian student group Youth Demand is planning to bring central London to a standstill with five days of “direct action” protest, claiming that by refusing to ban arms sales to Israel the Labour prime minister, Sir Keir Starmer, is “an accomplice to genocide”.

Daniel Knorris, a spokesman for the group – whose recent actions have included blockading Oxford Circus and daubing both the Labour Party headquarters and the Ministry of Defence with red paint – warned the JC there would now be an “escalation”.

The next wave of Youth Demand protests is due to start on Saturday, and culminate in an event — expected to be in Westminster — to coincide with the King’s Speech next Wednesday.

According to the risk consultancy Welund, which monitors political activists, the protests are likely to include further blockades of major roads and bridges.

Knorris, a biochemistry student at New College, Oxford, told the JC that the general election result showed the British political system was “totally broken”, because voters had been given a choice between “blue genocide” from the Tories or “red genocide” with Labour.

Citing a recent article letter from three academics – Rasha Khatib, Martin McKee, and Salim Yusuf — published in The Lancet, Knorris he claimed the true number of dead caused by “the IDF’s assault on Palestine” during the ongoing war in Gaza was 186,000, not the 38,000 claimed by the Hamas-controlled Gaza ministry of health.

“Labour is driving genocide, and as young people we find that totally unacceptable,” Knorris said. “We’re going to do anything non-violent that we can to stop this. If you look at our track record, we’ll be doing more things like that, and escalate them.

“We are all responsible for what’s happening in our country, and so long as a protest action is non-violent and causes change, we will consider it.”

Knorris confirmed that Youth Demand was formed several months ago from what had been the student wing of the anti-climate change campaign Just Stop Oil (JSO), a cause he also had supported. He said he was arrested last month on suspicion of participating in an unlawful conspiracy linked to JSO, but although the police had seized his mobile phone, he had not been charged.

Asked whether he condemned the Hamas attack on October 7, Knorris admitted he had known little about the Middle East before the massacre. He said, “any attack on civilians is an atrocity”, but added: “With a population caged in an open-air prison refugee camp, something is going to give. I’m not going to turn around and say, ‘oh, you terrible people’.”

Asked by the JC whether he thought Hamas should be allowed to participate in a post-war peace process or try to end the war by releasing all its remaining Israeli hostages, he said to consider such questions amounted to “intellectual masturbation”, because there was nothing people in the UK could do to influence them.

However, they could pressurise the government to ban both the sale of arms to Israel and the purchase of Israel-manufactured weapons that had been “battle-tested on children”. 

Knorris said he was brought up in north London close to the Jewish community of Golders Green, and that he had many Jewish friends who shared his view that Britain was “complicit in genocide”.

Asked what weapons British firms have been selling to Israel, he said he did not “have a list”, but named components and engines for military drones.

A House of Commons library report issued in May said UK military equipment sales to Israel worth a total of £574 million had been licensed since 2008 — a “significant component” of which took place in a single year, 2017, when licences worth £221 million were granted.

The report mentioned components for radars, helicopters and manned aircraft, but not drones.

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