Palestinian Brits make a stand for Gaza in UK general election

A larger number of British Palestinian candidates will be standing than ever before in the upcoming UK election [The New Arab]

A number of prominent British Palestinians will be standing as parliamentary candidates in the fast-approaching UK elections.

For them, the ongoing war in Gaza – and Labour and the Conservatives’ support for Israel – is a major factor in their decision to stand in their constituencies.

While fighting for Palestinian rights and an end to UK complicity in the crimes taking place in their homeland is a part of all their campaigns, they are also  running on platforms which focus on the stark decline of living standards in the UK in recent years.

Some of them are also drawing parallels between the UK’s foreign policy and attacks on marginalised groups at home.

Here are just a few of them:

Nada Jarche – Ealing Central and Acton

Nada is a British-Palestinian candidate standing with the Workers Party of Britain in Ealing Central and Acton. Born in the UAE, Nada moved to the UK in 1999 when she was 10.

She has described London as a city that has significantly shaped her identity and outlook.

Her educational background is in media and education, and her election campaign focusses on addressing local issues like housing affordability, assistance for local businesses, and increasing educational opportunities.

At a recent Gaza solidarity event in Acton Park, Jarche stressed: “We must not forget what’s going on in Gaza” and highlighted the issue that UK tax money is funding Israel instead of being invested in the UK.

Sameh Habeeb – Ealing North

Sameh Habeeb is a British Palestinian journalist from Gaza who has extensively covered the Israel-Palestine conflict for various international media outlets.

He is currently the director of the International Centre for Relations & Diplomacy (ICRD), an independent, non-profit think tank.

Standing with the Workers Party of Britain, he stated that having sought refuge in the UK, he found that “the reality of Ealing, my adopted home for many years, brought a sense of déjà vu. Here, too, I witnessed the grip of social injustice – the lack of decent housing, the struggle for proper healthcare, and the heart breaking neglect of the vulnerable”.

In his view, Labour and Conservative support for Israel’s war on Gaza has upset a lot of voters, and has brought pro-Palestine, pro-rights, socialist and Muslim groups together to mount a challenge to the main two UK parties.

Khalid Abu-Tayyem – Cambridge

Khalid is an oncology consultant working in the National Health Service (NHS) with 23 years’ working as a doctor. The son of 1948 Nakba (Catastrophe) survivors, he has stated that he is “deeply saddened by the war crimes being committed against innocent people in Gaza”.

He says the reason he is standing is due to the state of the NHS and the suffering of his patients, as well as the war on Gaza which both the Labour and Conservative parties have supported Israel in continuing.

In his view, the same British politicians who support the “annihilation” of the people of Gaza “are the same politicians who are leading Britain towards a collapse in health and economy”. He will be standing with the Workers Party of Britain.

Kamal Hawwash – Birmingham Selly Oak

Kamal is an engineering professor at Birmingham University and the former Chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

His family originates from Jerusalem. Commenting on his journey to standing for election, he explains: “I was a member of Labour until October last year. When Keir Starmer agreed that Israel had the right to cut off water and electricity from the Palestinians—I resigned”.

He believes the most needy in UK society are being denied basic services and that neither of the two main parties have delivered – for decades.

He argues for the nationalisation of the UK’s water and railway companies, a wealth tax, and an end to tuition fees.

Hawwash will run under the banner of Reliance, a group fielding candidates including community activists and single issue candidates across the country.

Leanne Mohamad – Ilford North

Leanne was born and raised in Ilford North to Palestinian parents. She describes herself as “a proud young British woman with a deep-rooted Palestinian heritage” – her grandparents were expelled from Palestine during the Nakba in 1948.

She is fiercely committed to her local community, as well as to ending the war on Gaza.

On her personal webpage, she indicates the interconnectedness of the UK government’s policy on Palestine with its domestic record: “The injustices we see abroad directly reflect the callousness with which governments, red and blue, treat people at home” – sentiments which have driven her to stand as an independent, because, as she says: “It’s time to reclaim politics for the people”.

Tanushka Marah – Hove and Portslade

Tanushka Marah is standing as an independent. She is a British-born Palestinian-Jordanian theatre director, actor and teacher.

She has stated: “I am calling for an end to the genocide, an end to the occupation, and to stop arming Israel”, explaining that she feels “duty-bound to represent the millions who want an end to the Gaza genocide, who are being ignored by our Westminster political parties”.

She also slams austerity as an ideology which has seen one of the richest countries in the world live with “Victorian levels of inequality” – an injustice she is determined to fight.

Taghrid Al-Mawed – Ceredigion Preseli

Taghrid’s family is from Saffuriya, near Nazareth, which they fled during the Nakba.

Born and raised stateless in the Ain Al Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, Al-Mawed moved to Wales 18 years ago to study, before settling and obtaining citizenship. The former charity CEO will be standing with the Workers Party of Britain.

She married into a farming family in Wales, observed first-hand the region’s decline, and is “determined to fight tooth and nail” to protect her community and region.

She also pointed out to The New Arab that in Lebanon she saw people “queueing for food and being denied healthcare because they cannot afford it”– and draws parallels with the rise of food banks in the UK and the desire of both main parties to privatise the NHS.

The other major driving force behind her decision to become involved in politics is “to defend my brothers and sisters in occupied Palestine”.

Layla Moran – Oxford and Abingdon

Layla Moran became the first MP of Palestinian heritage to get elected to the UK parliament in 2017, when the Liberal Democrat candidate scored a stunning victory in the southern seat of Oxford West and Abingdon, overturning a large Conservative majority.

Born to a Palestinian mother from Jerusalem and a British diplomat father, Moran has remarked in interviews about how politics “was always at the dinner table”, priming her to engage.

She has spoken out since 7 October about family members of hers trapped in the Holy Family Church in Gaza while under Israeli attack, and repeatedly called for a ceasefire.

She also brought a bill to the UK parliament last year calling for the 1948 Nakba to be commemorated annually in Britain.

Wael Mustapha Arafat – Bristol East

Wael Mustapha Arafat is standing as an independent to call for a ceasefire in Gaza and for the rights of the disabled and elderly to be respected.

He is disabled and came to the UK as a refugee. He describes growing up in fear surrounded by the sounds of bombs and low flying aircraft, experiences he says no child should suffer.

He also highlights the plight of the disabled and elderly in the UK, where the decline of the NHS has led to deteriorating conditions in hospitals for the vulnerable.

He argues refugees should be processed faster to allow them to work and contribute to the UK – which would in turn lead to economic benefits to the country.

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