The Guardian • Issue #2090

Government opposes Palestine ceasefire

Rally for Palestine, Sydney.

Rally for Palestine, Sydney. Photo: Anna Pha.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s language has gone biblical again. In a statement issued 29 February he repeatedly called for “total victory” and God’s “vengeance,” stressing the support of the US as redoubling Israel’s drive to total victory. Netanyahu also expressed concern for his political career: “General elections mean stopping the war.” Opposition to Netanyahu is growing and he knows it. Protesters in Israel are gathering in thousands demanding Netanyahu step down and an early election be held.

Months earlier Netanyahu had been comparing Gazans to the biblical Amalek: “Remember what the Amalekites did to you” was his line to soldiers. This had commentators quoting from the Tanakh/Old Testament “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.”

AID CONVOY MASSACRE

The current situation has reached catastrophic levels, not unlike what Netanyahu describes of the Amalekites. There are multiple reports of rape and sexual violence against women by the Israeli Defence Force, as well as the indiscriminate killing of babies. The death toll is officially over 30,000, with untold thousands more dead. The recent massacre of over 112 Palestinians at an aid convoy shocks the conscience. Algeria has asked Israel at the UN Security Council why they opened fire on so many civilians in an attack that injured a further 760. Al-Ittihad, the newspaper for Maki, the Israeli Communist Party (which forms a significant part of the Opposition alongside Hadash-Ta’al), reports 16 such massacres in the past few days.

Overcrowded, starving, and living in fear, traumatised and amongst the rubble, Palestinians face a looming assault on Rafah.

Although mainstream media has successfully turned large swathes of the West away from the Gaza genocide, cracks are appearing. Mass rallies and other protest actions continue around the world, including weekly rallies and marches in Australia. These have been sustained for five months.

Israeli support for their government is wavering, in part due to Netanyahu’s failure to prioritise the release of hostages and also because of the genocide in Palestine. Popular resistance to Biden’s hardened support of Israel has made some impact in the United States.

US AIRMAN SELF-IMMOLATION

On 25 February, US airman Aaron Bushnell set himself on fire in front of the Israeli embassy. Bushnell’s self-immolation has been cruelly discredited by media, but his final cry, “Free Palestine,” and his email to news outlets under the title “Against Genocide,” in which he declares that he “will no longer be complicit in genocide,” should not be mocked. Bushnell’s sacrifice will be remembered by those of us who take part in this resistance.

Meanwhile disease and malnutrition plague the Gaza Strip. Famine is looming in the North, with over 300,000 without food or clean water.

DESPICABLE

Yet despite the above, the diplomatic solution has been met by a brick wall of denial. Western leadership is mostly united behind Israel. Australia is among the worst: The Opposition joined Labor in overwhelmingly refusing to support a ceasefire. Activist Peter Henning has described Parliament’s actions in the first week of February as the “most despicable and most morally repugnant actions ever taken by an Australian parliament since 1901.”

Not only has Australia opposed a ceasefire; Australia has begun supplying military hardware to Israel on another scale entirely. The Australian Army has just awarded Elbit Systems, an Israeli weapons company, a $917 million contract. Material attachment to the Israel-US war machine on this scale negates any hope for an independent Australian response to the genocide in Gaza.

Senator Lidia Thorpe has challenged a law in Australia that allows the Attorney-General to prevent the prosecution of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Australian law courts. National Indigenous Times reports that Thorpe’s bill to strip the Attorney-General of this power has ramifications for the Stolen Generations too. Thorpe notes that “genocidal intent” can apply both for Israel and the Stolen Generations.

For First Nations people, the Gaza genocide brings back the worst memories, of genocide and ongoing dispossession right here in Australia. Perhaps it’s no surprise that a country that could do this to its first inhabitants would side with genocidal perpetrators in the international arena.

US VETOES ALGERIAN RESOLUTION

Abuse of veto power is the West’s special skill. The recent United States veto of the Algerian resolution is another blow to the global Palestinian struggle, to the diplomatic push for a solution.

According to Amar Bendjama, the Algerian representative, the Algerian draft resolution includes a humanitarian ceasefire, unhindered aid delivery to all parts of the Gaza Strip, the rejection of the forced displacement of Palestinians, compliance with the provisional measures ordered by the International Court of Justice, and finally the imperative for all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law.

In the blink of an eye, the US shot it down.

Algeria holds an important place in the region and the current situation. It resisted various opportunistic attempts by the West to invade and meddle in countries after the 2011 riots that had spread across the region, and has consistently stood on the side of progress and Arab sovereignty. Algeria has been a thorn in the side of the imperial machinery. Its current efforts need to be recognised and supported by international networks of resistance to the Israel-US genocide.

The reasons for this are complex but it is worth pointing out the enlarged role of the National Liberation Front in the Algerian government. The NLF was the principal liberation force of the Algerian War of Independence from France from 1954 to 1962, and retains high levels of trust among the people to protect Algerian independence and national sovereignty.

ARAB UNITY ONLY HOPE?

So why does the West back genocide? The reasons are geopolitical and geostrategic; the West wants to expand trade routes and protect land resources, and it needs Israel as a basis for its aims in the region. Their method is what Cheng Enfu has called “neo-imperialism” – imperialism because it is expansionist just like the old imperialism, and new because it uses ever-more sophisticated methods to expand.

Whether it’s military bases, or economic coercion, what is now called “US dollar hegemony,” the US has its methods down pat. Any nationalisation, “de-dollarisation” or resistance to US neo-imperialism from Arab states will be met with blunt force. For Gulf States especially, the attitude has mainly been “don’t go there.”

There is hope, however. One very credible area of progression is Arab unity. A divided Arab world is a weakened Arab world, as Muammar Gaddafi once put it. Yet there are signs that Gulf states are turning away from the West. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), currently led by the United Arab Emirates, has announced that the barbarism in Palestine amounts to genocide. The GCC has described the genocide in terms similar to South Africa at the ICJ, with reference to the destruction of civil facilities and hospitals.

Arab unity is a credible point of resistance in the region. On our end we have to turn up the pressure on our government to defy the Western norm and take an historic path towards peace.

ACT NOW:

  • Remember Aaron Bushnell
  • Write to Labor MPs and push them to vote for a lasting ceasefire
  • Circulate news about Israel’s atrocities
  • Condemn Wong, Marles, and Albanese for supporting genocide
  • Demand they reinstate Australia’s funding to UNRWA
  • Support the opposition within Israel, including Hadash and Maki.
  • Impose sanctions on trade, finance, travel, technology or cooperation
  • Help change our foreign policy by organising a socialist movement dedicated to internationalism and peace.
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