Get Up! has shied away from tackling the Israel/Palestine issue, preferring to focus on more domestic concerns. Its success in Australia is undeniable, though I know a number of members have been frustrated with its silence over the Middle East.
But maybe that is about to change. I was contacted last week by Get Up! to begin an online debate about this subject, as a way for the group to dip its toe into the problem. If, or when, the organisation decides to pressure the Labor government over this, the Prime Minister should be worried.
Israel’s latest offensive against the Gazan people has left the occupied territory devastated.
Dr. Marie-Pierre Allié, President of the French section of Médecins Sans Frontières, writes that, “it is difficult to recall a comparable slaughter of civilians in so little time.”
With thousands of dead and injured Palestinians, one of Israel’s leading writers, Gideon Levy, argues in Haaretz that, “this war ended in utter failure for Israel.”
Despite the futility of this conflict, there is a perverse logic to the adventure. Since the Jewish state’s birth in 1948, successive leaders have never accepted the concept of an equal Palestinian partner; they must be humiliated, killed, intimidated or isolated instead of engaged.
Despite these unpleasant realities, the vast majority of the international community, except the US, Australia and a handful of others, accept the vast majority view, namely that Israel must cease illegal settlement building in the occupied territories, split Jerusalem and resolve the refugee issue.
Henry Siegman, former national director of the American Jewish Congress and the Synagogue Council of America, puts it succinctly: “When Jews target and kill innocent civilians to advance their national struggle, they are patriots. When their adversaries do so, they are terrorists.”
Hamas is merely the latest organization classified as a terrorist organization in the West. Its democratic legitimacy is undeniable (as is its willingness to negotiate with Israel) but its refusal to collude with Israel, like Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, deems it an “enemy” to be destroyed.
Australia could play a constructive role but Kevin Rudd has chosen to meekly back Israel’s onslaught against the Palestinians. There is bi-partisan support for this position but it may change soon.
As the Muslim population grows in political power and organization, the influence of the Zionist lobby will inevitably decrease. A more balanced approach to the conflict is both morally and legally required.
Justice and history is not on the side of Israeli expansionism.