On May 31, Israeli defence force commandos boarded an aid ship in international waters. The ship was trying to break the illegal military blockade of the Gaza strip and transport much-needed food and medical supplies. Nine aid activists were killed and several snap actions were held in Australia to condemn Israel’s actions and call for an end to the blockade. On June 1, 250 people rallied in Brisbane to condemn Israel’s attacks on the Gaza aid fleet. ALP vice-president Wendy Turner, and socialist activist and lecturer in creative industries Gary MacLennan, spoke.
“Break the war alliance” is one of the key messages anti-war groups will send to US President Barack Obama when he visits Australia in June. Protesters plan to focus on the stepped-up US war drive in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They will also demand of Obama and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd that the occupying troops leave. Compared to the Bush administration, total US defence spending is projected to rise from US$534.5 billion in 2006 to $663.7 billion in 2010 according to Congressional budget papers.
It took nearly six months to organise, but on May 21, representatives from seven anti-war groups finally met defence minister Senator John Faulkner to request he re-consider a Greens’ initiative to amend the Defence Act. The amendment would require that MPs vote on whether or not Australian troops are sent to war. While the lobby, spearheaded by Nick Deane from the Marrickville Peace Group, did not change the senator’s mind, Deane told Green Left Weekly that he felt the exercise was still worthwhile because Faulkner heard a range of views.
American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein Directed by David Ridgen & Nicolas Rossier Baraka Productions Review by Antony Loewenstein Jewish critics of Israel are as old as the ideology itself. Zionism was regarded by most Jews in Europe as an idealistic delusion before the Second World War, but the Holocaust literally changed everything.
Israel faces unprecedented pressure to abandon its official policy of “ambiguity” regarding its possession of nuclear weapons. Israel’s equivocal stance on its atomic status was shattered by reports on May 24 that it offered to sell nuclear-armed Jericho missiles to South Africa's apartheid regime in 1975. The revelations are deeply embarrassing to Israel given its long-standing opposition to signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It has argued instead that it is a “responsible power” that would never misuse nuclear weapons technologies if it acquired them.
On March 31, a group of Christian peace activists from the Bonhoeffer Peace Collective entered a secretive military base on Swan Island off the coast of Victoria. Swan Island is a training base for Australia's elite SAS soldiers, who play the most active combat role in Australia’s deployment to Afghanistan. The activists wanted to shed light on the brutal ongoing occupation and war in Afghanistan. They switched off power to a satellite dish and one sector of the base: a symbolic act to call on the government to “hit the emergency stop button” on the war.
Hundreds of Tamils turned out in Sydney’s Martin Place on May 18 to mark the first anniversary of the Sri Lankan army’s capture of the last bit of land held by the pro-independence Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the north-east of the country. In driving rain, families lined up to place petals in front of a statue of a grieving mother. They heard from community speakers, the Greens, the Council for Civil Liberties (CCL) and the Socialist Alliance.
US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh told an audience at a journalism conference in April that American soldiers are now executing prisoners in Afghanistan, a May 12 Rawstory.com article said. Hersh helped break the story that US jailers were torturing detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. In 1969, Hersh broke the story of the My Lai massacre by US forces in Afghanistan. At the Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Geneva, Hersh said US forces are engaged in “battlefield executions”.
Wollongong's Students Against War (SAW) collective crashed the university’s ‘fashion week’ on May 6 by holding a ‘die-in’ on the catwalk. Two activists entered the fashion parade and revealed bloodied clothes before they collapsed on the end of the catwalk. SAW co-convenor Ella Ryan said: ‘The idea behind this stunt, aptly named “Deathly Designs”, was to bring attention to Wollongong university's role in helping design military hardware for arms manufacturers as part of the $85 million "Defence Materials Technology Centre".
A May 17 International Crisis Group report said there were “reasonable grounds to believe the Sri Lankan security forces committed war crimes with top government and military leaders potentially responsible” in the last five months of the 30 year long war against Tamil independence fighters. The report cited the intentional shelling of civilians, hospitals and humanitarian operations.