Three thousand people rallied in Melbourne on Saturday against Israel’s latest criminal bombardment of Gaza and the ongoing apartheid and genocide being carried out in historic Palestine. The following is an edited speech by Kim Stern, who addressed the rally at the State Library of Victoria. Kim is a member of Jews against Israeli Apartheid and Socialist Alternative.
We’re here today to condemn the horror committed by the state of Israel; to support our brothers and sisters in their courageous resistance in the Occupied West bank and Gaza. It is an inspiration to see generation after generation stand up against the most militarised and brutal state in the region. We must support any resistance – it is the only way they can survive, the only way they can exist.
We call for the end of the Israeli dictatorship over Gaza. Shame on Israel, whose very existence is the cause of this indescribable suffering. Shame on Israel, whose very existence means daily humiliation for and discrimination against the one million Palestinians living within the Zionist state. Shame on Israel, whose very existence denies the right to return to the Palestinian diaspora, so many of whom live destitute in refugee camps.
This is not an age-old religious war. There are no two equal sides locked in battle since time immemorial. There is an oppressor and an oppressed. Israel is a political project of colonisation and domination.
Every year, the US gives billions of dollars not to the besieged, impoverished, and desperate Palestinians, but to the oppressor.
The Australian government, seeing in the racist coloniser a mirror image of itself, unashamedly supports the watchdog of Western imperialism, excusing it of any war crime it may commit. From al-Nakba in 1948, when thousands were murdered and hundreds of thousands displaced, Israel has claimed that it is the only safe place for Jews, that it is a beacon of democracy and peace in the Middle East.
We all know this is a lie. Israel has been responsible for catastrophe after catastrophe – from the invasion of Egypt in 1956, the seven day war in 1967, the bombardment of Lebanon in 1982 and again in 2006, operation cast lead in 2008 and now Operation Protective Edge. The existence of the supposedly pure Jewish state of Israel means the slaughter of countless Palestinians.
I’m Jewish and I renounce Israeli war crimes. I’m Jewish and I stand on the side of Palestine. Israel is not my homeland. I look at Israel and see militarised racism. I look at Palestine and see unimaginably brave resistance.
To see their refusal to give up, their refusal to stop fighting – for to stop fighting is to accept the complete destruction of Palestine – is to see true humanity. It doesn’t matter what our backgrounds are. It doesn’t matter where we live. Palestine is the strongest possible source of motivation we can draw on in our fight for justice and freedom.
Today we send a clear message. To our loved ones in Gaza we send our hope and wholehearted commitment to struggle in solidarity with them. We call for the end of this murderous occupation. We demand the right of return for all Palestinians. And to our own racist government we send a clear message: We oppose the bilateral commitment by Labor and the Liberals to Israel. Those parties are complicit in the slaughter of thousands of innocent Palestinians.
As a member of Jews against Israeli Apartheid and Socialist Alternative, thanks to everyone for coming out today and showing solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.
We won’t stop fighting until Palestine is free!
Hundreds of refugees rallied outside Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil’s office in Oakleigh, in south-east Melbourne, on Monday, demanding permanent visas for those who have still not gained protection more than a year after the election of the federal Labor government.
The murder of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini at the hands of Iran’s morality police last September sparked the largest revolt in Iran since the 1979 revolution. What began as a protest in Gina Mahsa Amini’s home town of Saqqez soon developed into a nationwide revolt against the Iranian state. Over the course of six months, hundreds of thousands of students, workers, the young and the old, took to the streets with the battle cry “Jin, Jiyan, Azadi!” (Women, life, freedom).
Australia’s goods and services tax is the one tax that the rich in this country love.
Large demonstrations have been taking place across Syria in recent weeks. While their scale has yet to reach the peaks seen in 2011, many are hopeful that the government will be brought down. To get a more detailed assessment of the movement and the situation it faces in Syria, Red Flag spoke to long-time Syrian leftist Jamal Chamma. Jamal is based in Melbourne and has been involved for years in organising demonstrations in solidarity with the Syrian revolution.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers claimed last week that the average Australian worker is $3,700 “better off” than a year ago, citing this as proof that Labor in government has delivered on its promise to “get wages moving again”. The West Australian newspaper called it “Labor’s wages growth win”. Other media headlines could almost have tricked you into thinking that workers are getting richer right now.
As the referendum approaches, the key dynamic in the debate is clear. The conservative right views a defeat for the Voice as a chance to strike a devastating blow against support for Indigenous rights among the Australian population. In the process, it is reviving every racist myth in the play book: Indigenous people shouldn’t get “special privileges”; opposing anti-Aboriginal racism is actually “dividing the nation”; and the colonisation of Australia had only a “positive impact”, in the words of Jacinta Price.