I was walking towards Sydney's Verona Cinema – where the pro-Palestine protesters were holding a peaceful protest, despite heavy police intervention, calling for a boycott of the Israeli Film Festival that was being launched there – when a man in a suit shouted at me: “How many heads did you chop today?”
What the hell???
The reason for this ridiculous taunt was that I was walking beside an activist from Jews Against The Occupation who was wearing a keffiyah scarf in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
With the sanction of a NSW Supreme Court decision depriving the protesters of normal protections for their right to assemble, a police riot squad and mounted police had prevented an orderly march on the cinema and so the demonstrators had dispersed and were approaching the venue in smaller groups from different venues.
Israel's latest grossly disproportionate war on Gaza — which has overwhelmingly killed civilians, including hundreds of children — had just resumed. So the reason for this protest should have been obvious, yet the taunt that was thrown at us referred to the horrific filmed execution of journalist James Foley by the Islamic State fundamentalist militia.
The real issue is: How many kids did the Israeli war machine, armed by the US, kill today?
If political support for the Palestinian people got us a head-chopping taunt, can you imagine what people of Middle Eastern background are copping in the streets, schools and workplaces around Australia today?
The federal government is trying to exploit the latest wave of anti-Muslim hysteria to force through a set of new “anti-terrorist” laws that will target people from a Muslim background and it is pressuring community leaders to support these attacks. So far, the Muslim community leaders have stood up to Prime Minister Tony Abbott's bullying and many boycotted a recent meeting with him.
But after the brutal murder of Foley by the Islamic State militia, the pressure from the Abbott government can be expected only to increase.
All progressive-minded people have a duty to stand in solidarity with the victims of this new campaign of racist hysteria. You can help Green Left Weekly fight the new wave of anti-Muslim hysteria, the new attacks on our civil rights in the name of “anti-terrorism” and to tell the truth about the wars that are tearing many parts of the world apart today.
Make a donation today to the Green Left Weekly fighting fund on the toll-free line at 1800 634 206 (within Australia) or make a donation online. Direct deposits can also be made to Greenleft, Commonwealth Bank, BSB 062-006, Account No. 00901992. Otherwise, you can send a cheque or money order to PO Box 515, Broadway NSW 2007.