“Gaza in context: The duty of solidarity in the West,” was discussed at the University of Sydney on October 20. Around 100 people took part in person, with a similar number on-line, in the forum hosted by Sydney Staff for BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions).
“In the escalating crisis, with Palestinians being made the objects of genocidal violence, and thousands already killed, the conflict in Gaza has been misrepresented and decontextualised,” the organisers said.
Palestinian, Jewish and other speakers talked about the history of the Gaza conflict, Israel’s apartheid laws and the importance of the BDS campaign, including in universities.
Dr Nick Reimer, from the University of Sydney (USyd), started the meeting with a video message from a Gazan student currently in Egypt, Mohammed, who highlighted the dire humanitarian disaster in Gaza.
Dr Ihab Shalbak from the School of Sociology at the USyd; Rand, a Palestinian-born student at USyd; Dr Lucia Sorbera from the USyd School of Arabic Language and Cultures and Dr Ronit Lentin, from Trinity College, Dublin, currently at USyd addressed the forum.
Shalback noted that “Israel has been given a licence by the Western empire to kill Palestinian civilians”. He said this policy is critical to the West’s “rules-based order” and he urged people to stand up and say “Not in our name”.
Rand added that “Palestine cannot be liberated alone … Zionism is racism. International complicity with Israeli crimes requires us to urgently build international solidarity, especially the BDS movement. Our struggle is one with the Palestinians”.
Sorbera described the growing “culture war against the Palestinian people” and the “silencing of Palestinian voices, including the recent cancelling of Palestinian cultural events in Europe”. She said this is “an essential part of the project of dehumanising the Palestinians into ‘human animals’”.
Lentin, a Jew born in Israel, described the Zionists’ “all-pervasive indoctrination” in her early years.
“Racism is everywhere in Israel,” she said. “I am not a ‘self-hating Jew’, but a self-loving Jew,” she said. “BDS is now more important than ever before, and the academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions is a critical part of the BDS campaign.”
Palestinian activist Khaled Ghannam, during the question and answer session, called on the federal government to ensure equal rights for Palestinian Australians and Jewish Australian citizens to be assisted in evacuating the war zone.