News briefs 3

November 17, 1993


Central Queensland protests US base

Over 10% of the population of Yepoon, central Queensland, rallied on August 1 against plans for a joint US-Australia military "training centre" in nearby Shoalwater Bay.

Hundreds of people took to the town centre to demand that details of the agreement signed by defence minister Robert Hill in Washington on July 7 be released.

Protest organiser Peter Murray told Green Left Weekly that many protesters were sceptical of Hill's statements that the "training centres" would not be permanent US bases. A July 5 media release from Hill's office tried to allay community concerns, declaring that "the US is not seeking to base forces in Australia and the US has made no request to pre-position training equipment in Australia".

Murray believes that Hill's refusal to reveal details of the agreement when questioned in the Senate by the Democrats' John Cherry indicates that the government "obviously has something to hide". Hill's refusal to rule out the use of nuclear-powered ships during joint training exercises has furthered suspicions.

In Darwin, plans are underway for a month of protest action in October against the "training centres" (two of which will be located in the NT).

Kathy Newnam

Palestine activist debates former Republican adviser

CANBERRA — On August 5, 300 people attended a debate on the theme "Israel and Palestine: who is the terrorist? Who is the victim?" organised by the international relations department at the Australian National University.

Ted Lapkin, a senior policy analyst for the Australia-Israel Jewish Affairs Council and a former communications director for a Republican member of the US Congress, defended the Israeli government's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Lapkin argued that Israel was fighting an "asymmetrical war against an immoral enemy". He blamed the principle victims of the conflict — the Palestinian people — for their own oppression, declaring that the majority of Palestinian casualties since the outbreak of the current intifada in September 2001 were not civilians, but combatants or known terrorists.

Michael Shaik, a member of Australians for Justice and Peace in Palestine who worked as a media coordinator for the International Solidarity Movement in Palestine in 2003, responded with a damning critique of the Israeli government's colonialist policies.

Quoting former and current Israeli politicians and military officers, Shaik demonstrated that a consistent policy of dispossession had been carried out by the Israeli state since its foundation in 1948 and continues to this day. He argued that the construction of the "Apartheid wall", the doubling of settlements in the West bank over the last decade and the demolition of Palestinian homes were part of this policy. Shaik received rousing applause from the audience.

Nick Everett

From Green Left Weekly, August 11, 2004.
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