The political and media elite ignore the support for Palestinians in the wider community at their peril.
Sydney Sun Herald’s Kerry-Anne Walsh writes today:
The public loves it when MPs speak out of turn but their party often subtly punishes them.
Last week, on this page, we featured an opinion piece by federal Labor MP Julia Irwin on the fighting in Gaza.
Ms Irwin – a passionate supporter of the Palestinian cause and deeply critical of the West’s unswerving backing for Israel – didn’t pull her punches…
Ms Irwin’s article generated a greater flood of correspondence to The Sun-Herald than any issue in recent years, the overwhelming majority in support.
What emerged – strongly – in their views was a yearning for politicians to break ranks and voice opinions. Consider these:
“Julia Irwin MP is to be commended for being one of the only Australian politicians with the courage to speak out . . .”; “Ms Irwin is perspicacious and courageous. I wish the same were true for other MPs whose voices are ‘a tinkling cymbal’ (1 Corinthians 13:1)”; “Too bad most other Australian politicians have remained silent on this issue”; “Is Julia Irwin the only brave politician we have in our government?”; “Miss Irwin is to be congratulated for raising her voice. Where are all the other leaders and politicians?”
And these: “Thank you very much to Julia Irwin and your newspaper for being brave and principled enough to speak out . . .”; “I wish that we had more politicians like great Julia Irwin”; “Julia Irwin (11/1/09) should be commended for having the courage to say what so few of our politicians are afraid to say”; “What a sad reflection on our government that only one MP has the courage to speak out”; “It’s good to know that we have one federal parliamentarian who has a conscience . . .”; “Stand tall Julia, there are an increasing amount of Australians standing with you”; “Terrific, keep it up. We need intelligent debate on this issue”.
The overwhelming tone, clearly, was pro-Palestinian but there was an underlying sentiment which I believe would have applied equally if Ms Irwin or any other backbencher was arguing fervently against the official party line, in defence of a cherished belief.
The Palestinian struggle is being heard and supported by increasingly loud voices.