Australia should side with the Palestinians

Rally for Gaza, Nov 15, Sydney.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The violence Israel has unleashed on the Gaza Strip is not a war.

On one side there is a highly militarised state, with one of the best equipped armed forces in the world, generously subsidised by billions of dollars in Western military and non-military aid. On the other side there are 1.5 million people, subjects of this state, which has herded them into a walled ghetto on which it imposes a starvation siege.

Some Israeli government ministers have been open about the reasons for the massacres being perpetrated against civilians in Gaza by Israeli forces. “The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages”, Interior Minister Eli Yishai said. Transport Minister Israel Katz called “for Gaza to be bombed so hard the population has to flee into Egypt”.

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Click here for details of protest rallies against Israel's war across Australia. Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton has condemned Israel's violence and Australian support.

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The assault on the civilians of Gaza is — like the starvation siege imposed since 2006, like the land grabs and apartheid in the West Bank, like the policy of imprisoning thousands of Palestinians without trial, like the routine killings of Palestinians by Israeli armed forces and settlers that don't even get reported in the Western media, like the discrimination suffered even by the minority of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship — part of a policy of ethnic cleansing that has taken place since the formation of Israel in 1948.

The State of Israel is, and always has been, explicit about wishing to exclude non-Jews from what it calls Eretz Israel (the land of Israel), which Palestinians call Palestine.

Yet despite more than 60 years of ethnic cleansing and colonisation by Jewish settlers from around the world, almost half the population under Israeli rule — some 5 million people in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and inside the 1948 borders of Israel — remain Palestinian. The latest upsurge in violence is simply part of an ongoing project aimed to force them to join the 6 million Palestinians permanently exiled from their homeland.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has said: “The government condemns the repeated rocket and mortar attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip and calls on Hamas to cease these immediately. Australia supports Israel's right to defend itself against these indiscriminate attacks. Such attacks on Israel's civilian population are utterly unacceptable.”

Socialist Alliance unreservedly condemns this entirely dishonest rationale for siding with the perpetrators of violence against their victims. Leaving aside the question of who fired the first shot in this latest fighting (Israel) and who is killing most civilians (again Israel, by a ratio of more than 30 to 1), this statement obscures that this is a conflict between a state and a subject people.

The Australian establishment’s uncritical support of Israel in part reflects historical parallels between the two nations: both are nations created through colonisation by settlers and the marginalisation, exclusion and ethnic cleansing of indigenous populations.

It also reflects the role Israeli aggression plays in the strategically important and oil-rich Middle East, helping maintain the dominance of the US-led Western alliance, of which Australia is a part.

Uncritical support of Israel is caused by the same factors that have led to Australian participation in US-led wars of aggression from Korea, through Vietnam, Iraq, Somalia and Iraq (twice) to Afghanistan.

Israel’s role as a front-line state for Western imperialism has made high-tech military systems its major industry. This is why the deal announced on October 12 for Israeli arms company Elbit Systems to fit out Australian Defence Force ships with “Battle Management Systems” is typical of Australia’s economic ties with Israel.

The belittling of Palestinian suffering and vilification of Palestinian
people by Australian politicians and media fuels racism against Australia’s Arab and Muslim communities.

However, the Australian establishment's stance does not reflect what Australian people think. Sixty-five percent said they view Israel negatively, a poll published in the Jerusalem Post in July said.

Therefore, the Socialist Alliance:
• Condemns Israel’s attack on Gaza and its ongoing starvation siege of Gaza;
• Condemns all violence, oppression and discrimination suffered by Palestinians living under Israeli rule, whether in Gaza, the West Bank or inside the 1948 borders of Israel
• Recognises the right of all Palestinians to live anywhere in their homeland with peace, security and full civil and political rights;
• Recognises that all people, including Palestinians, have a right to resist violence and dispossession;
• Demands that the Australian government sides with the victims of violence instead of the perpetrators, and severs all diplomatic, economic and military ties with Israel;
• Demands that Australian federal and state government repeals all laws that criminalise support for the legitimate right of Palestinians to resist; and
• Demands that Australian media, in particular the publicly-funded ABC, cease functioning as a propaganda arm of the Israeli military and start objectively reporting events.