Melbourne marks Palestine Solidarity Week

April 4, 2009

As part of Palestine Solidarity Week — March 30 to April 3 — renowned Jewish author Antony Loewenstein spoke at campus meetings at La Trobe University, Monash University and the University of Melbourne on April 1. The public lectures were organised by Students for Palestine.

At Melbourne University at least 120 people packed into the lecture theatre to hear Loewenstein speak. He criticised the mainstream Western media for its one-sided depiction of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Public opinion is shifting in Israel, but this isn't reflected at the ballot box, Loewenstein said. Dissidents in Israel have no political power, so only international pressure and the threat of political and economic isolation can "change and reframe the debate".

"The perception is that Jews want to shut down debate," Lowenstein continued. "But increasingly many are saying 'Not in my name".

At least 200 people attended the Palestine Solidarity Feast at the University of Melbourne on April 3. The event featured Palestinian food, music and entertainment. There was an Arabic language lesson by Yousef al Reemawi, a stand-up comedy act by Nazeem Hussain (of Fear of a Brown Planet fame) and a performance by hip-hop group The Brothahood.

There was also an auction of a photo titled "Handing over the Key" taken by British photographer Rich Wiles, which shows an elderly Palestinian's hand passing on the key to his home to an infant. Many displaced Palestinians have kept the keys to their homes in the hope of being able to return someday. The portrait raised $500, to be donated to a hospital in Gaza.

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