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!