ALP must support Palestine

Deputy PM Julia Gillard's outspoken support for Israel's attack on Gaza earlier this year prompted angry criticism from many, including from inside her own party.

Elly Howse, a member of the Young Labor Left and the ALP, condemned her party for supporting the war at a protest in Sydney against the visiting war criminal and Zionist Dan Gillerman on March 2.

Labor should have "condemned the horrific and overblown reaction by Israel in dealing with Gaza and Hamas", Howse told Green Left Weekly on March 3. Labor still supports a two-state solution, Howse pointed out, arguing that, therefore, it should have taken a stand for Palestine.

Asked how widespread her views were inside the ALP, Howse, who is also an education officer at Sydney university's Student Representative Council, pointed to the formation of Labor for a Just Palestine in Queensland as evidence her views were not unique.

"There are many progressive people in the young section of the party, and in the professional part, who were outraged at what has been happening in Palestine. We have to make sure the progressive people get a voice and get into office, not people who are sucked into the Labor Party machine."

Australia needs its own distinct relationship with Israel, Howse said. "Israel has shown that it thinks it's above international law and basic human rights. Australia has to tell the rest of the international community that it disagrees. United Nations' condemnation of Israel is proof that Australia needs to reduce its ties with such a warmongering country, not increase them."

Howse pointed to Palestine Solidarity Week, from March 30 to April 4 at Sydney university, as a way for students to get involved in the solidarity movement. She thinks there is scope for the global boycott and divestment campaign in Australia. "I would really like to turn it into a major campaign for Young Labor Left", she said.