Why I won’t be celebrating 60 years of Israel

My following article appears in today’s ABC Unleashed:

Like Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s recent apology to the Stolen Generations, the local Jewish community celebrated the gesture of reconciliation to the indigenous population, but as I wrote in Haaretz remained unwilling to extend this sentiment to the Palestinians.

Rudd’s parliamentary motion to celebrate Israel’s 60th anniversary was defended by Foreign Minister Stephen Smith. “We… believe that the solution to the Middle East is a two-nation state solution,” he said. “A nation state for the Palestinians and a nation state for Israel.”

The fact that Israel’s continued colonisation of the occupied territories has made a two-state solution almost impossible is unmentionable. The motion received bipartisan support.

However, Labor backbenchers were unhappy about the motion, with Julia Irwin telling ABC radio that she found “it hard to congratulate a country which carries out human rights abuses each day, and shows blatant disregard for the United Nations.”

Liberal backbencher Susan Ley wanted to highlight “the current blockade of Gaza, confiscation of Palestinian land and the expansion of settlements”.

A large advertisement was placed in the Australian newspaper, signed by hundreds of concerned Australian citizens, including Arabs and Jews, to explain that, “Australia and Australians should not give the Israeli people and its leaders the impression that Australia supports them in their dispossession of the Palestinian people.”

I was a signatory of the petition.

As an Australian Jew, I have written for years about the inability of the Diaspora Zionist communities to recognise the crimes committed in their name.

When I co-founded last year Independent Australian Jewish Voices, condemning violence on both sides and urging dialogue between Jews and Palestinians, we were called treasonous by many Zionist spokespeople. For them, Israel’s violence isn’t aggression, merely defensive manoeuvres. Settlement expansion isn’t illegal, it’s “natural growth”. A number of original IAJV signatories signed the advertisement against Rudd’s motion.

I joined the petition protesting the motion because it negates the Palestinian narrative and celebrates, even white-washes, the ethnic cleansing that took place in 1948.

For me, this is a human response, not a Jewish one.

Women for Palestine spokeswomen Sonja Karkar and Amin Abbas explain: “Every Australian ought to be asking why our Government feels so humiliatingly obligated to Israel that they must go to these lengths to show their friendship with a country that consistently violates international law, United Nations resolutions and human rights conventions?”

A new book by Jonathan Cook, a former Guardian journalist now based in Nazareth, reveals the real agenda of the Jewish state and its Washington masters. Israel and the Clash of Civilisations methodically argues that regional chaos actually helps, not hinders, their imperial plans. “The actual goal of the Israeli strategy,” Cook writes, is to convince Western policy makers that “a series of civil wars and the partition of Arab states” is beneficial to their interests. He goes on:

By tying the fates of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories to the US occupation of Iraq, by miring the American forces in the same, constant human rights abuses that Israeli forces committed daily in the West Bank and Gaza, the two projects stood or fell together. The futures of the Israeli and US occupations became inextricably entwined.

Rudd’s delusional motion contributes nothing to the prospects of peace.

Platitudes towards both peoples have only resulted in an escalation of hostilities, a semblance of peace talks that have become a stalling tactic for Israel’s ongoing settlement expansion.

Zionists in Australia refuse to acknowledge a recent poll in Israel that found a majority of citizens want to engage with Hamas. They ignore the on-the-ground reality that leaves a two-state solution dead in its tracks. The alternative is a truly democratic state, neither Jewish nor Muslim.

Israel’s 60th anniversary is a cause for distress, not celebration.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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