'Gulf War at home'

Issue 

Story by Barry Healy

Photo by David Brazil

SYDNEY — "We cannot morally aspire to be a free people in our own land while oppressing others. The plight of the Palestinians evokes a disturbing echo", Marta Romer of Jewish Women in Support of an Independent Palestine told an April 20 seminar here.

Attended by prominent academics, community activists, journalists and students, the gathering was titled the Gulf War At Home. It was also addressed by Ahmad Shboul of Sydney University, Michael Carey of SBS and Assad Adbi of the Committee of Arab Australians.

Mary Rebehy of the Australian Arab Welfare Council accused the media of bias and insensitivity during the war: "The media only wanted to hear certain information. They are primarily interested in conflict. If you don't fit into their predetermined ideas, you don't get reported."

Racist incidents during the war had shattered the confidence of many Arab Australians, she said. People who had lived here for more than 20 years were spat upon and abused, cars were firebombed, and employment discrimination increased. "They have been made to feel like outsiders." n