Tomorrow it is proposed that the Rudd government will support a parliamentary motion in favour of Israel’s 60th anniversary. In lending their support to this motion the new administration will forfeit any of the moral ground they gained with the apology to indigenous Australians last month.
Israel represents a state which occupies Palestinian land. It was a state founded on a project of brutal ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Palestinian population (the recent work of the eminent scholar Ilan Pappe The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine documents this). Today it continually practices violent means of occupation and segregation in Gaza and the West Bank. Daily news reports attest to this. In fact several scholars, such as Uri Davis (see his Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within), refer to Israel as an apartheid state. The construction of the “separation wall” under the Sharon government confirms this apartheid behaviour. Despite being declared illegal under international law by the ICJ, the current Israeli government has maintained and furthered its construction.
For 60 years the Palestinians have been forced to live in a state of suffering resulting directly from a colonial project that we here in Australia are being asked to confront in the wake of the historical apology. How can Prime Minister Rudd now support a motion that celebrates this brutality? As an Australian I am offended at this hypocrisy and seeming ignorance by the Rudd government who only several weeks ago asked the most ardent Australians to accept the necessity of an apology to indigenous Australians for the ethnic cleansing they endured at the hands of the coloniser and the immense difficulties and continued suffering of those from the stolen generations. Surely a more fitting response, in the spirit of the apology, would be to urge Israelis to acknowledge what has been done to the Palestinians in the last 60 years and to review their own foundational history which, like ours here in Australia, was not at all a pure project.
Tomorrow various organisations like the Australian Friends of Palestine, Australians for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Independent Australian Jewish Voices plan to respond by running ads in the press and organising protests in some capital cities. Such acts will probably be incorrectly and inappropriately targeted as anti-Semitic but, in view of what I’ve outlined above, I think it is in every Australian’s interest to not be silent, to say to the Rudd government “not in my name” because such an offensive motion warrants this action.