One hundred people rallied in Brisbane Square on May 14 to commemorate Al Nakba —— “the catastrophe”. Al Nakba took place on May 15, 1948, when Israeli forces drove hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians out of their lands, and consolidated the Jewish state.
“Free Palestine!”, “End the occupation!” and “62 years since Al Nakba. 62 years of occupation”, were the main themes of the rally, organised by Justice for Palestine. Other demands of the rally included: break ties with apartheid Israel: stop the settlements; tear down the wall; equal rights for all in historic Palestine, and for the right of return of Palestinian refugees.
Socialist academic Gary MacLennan told the crowd: “The US and Israel will never defeat the Palestinians. They are resisting now and will resist forever. Apartheid Israel is just as bad as apartheid South Africa was. The wall is creating new bantustans in the West Bank.”
Referring to Western governments’ campaign against Iran over nuclear weapons, MacLennan said: “There is only one nuclear power in the Middle East: Israel. Right now, the biggest threat to world peace is Israel and its nuclear weapons.”
Arab-Australian singer and activist Phil Monsour, who recently returned from the Middle East, said “the catastrophe occurs every day in Palestine”. He called for a national campaign to oppose Israel and to strengthen the international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign.
The protest concluded with a march to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
In Melbourne, 50 protesters heard from speakers including a Palestinian activist from Gaza, Ines Sammak, and Maritime Union of Australia state secretary Kevin Bracken.
In Sydney, Christine Keavney reports, about 60 people gathered on May 15. After Jenny Munro gave the welcome to country, a passionate young activist, Laith Salwalla, suggested that most Palestinians think Israel wants them driven to the sea. Mal Tullock of the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union described the desolation and repression he witnessed as part of a study tour to Palestine. Greens Councillor Irene Doherty described the Al Nakba as “the biggest land grab in history” and questioned the sense of the two state solution.
After a vocal march, there were speeches by Aisha Chaabou, from Students for Palestine, decrying Israel's refusal to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty; anti-war activist Raul Bassi, who acknowledged the struggles of resistance organisations such as Hamas and Hezbollah; and Socialist Alliance activist Helen Bransgrove who cited evidence supporting Desmond Tutu's statement that Israel is more harsh than Apartheid South Africa.