The Guardian • Issue #2103


Israel and Protest, deaths and distractions

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2103

What is ‘Israel-Palestine’ about? Is it about demonstrations outside MP’s offices? Is it about how protestors at Australian campuses behave? Is it about which slogans people use at demonstrations? Is it about who wears a keffiyeh and where?

These questions sound strange, but a lot of the media and a lot of our politicians are acting as though the answer is ‘Yes.’

Let’s be clear. What the Israeli Defence Force is doing to the people of Palestine, at the direction of the Netanyahu government is genocide. More than 37 thousand deaths and counting. Thousands more can’t be found because they are under rubble. Others will die in the weeks and months ahead from injuries, from starvation, and from a lack of medical care caused by the Israeli assault. It’s a genocide. That’s what it’s about.

It’s simple. Too many children are being killed. That’s what it’s about.

Federal Liberal MP Julian Leeser, is trying, with help from the media, to make 37 thousand plus deaths and counting all about his feelings. He says that what’s important is that Australian university students are being anti-semitic when they protest the slaughter.

Anti-semitism is a kind of racism. Like all forms of racism, anti-semitism is irrational and morally wrong; irrational because Jewish people, like the objects of all forms of racism, are people, not a different form of life. Anti-semitism has a particularly awful history; the Holocaust practiced by the Nazis during World War II, as well as pogroms and persecution stretching down through the centuries.

Communists have always stood against anti-semitism. Lenin famously cried “shame” on those who fomented hatred against Jews. We oppose all forms of racism.

This is not one of those pieces which says that something is appalling but. There’s no ‘but’ to it. Anti-semitism is never justified.

The concept of anti-semitism is cheapened by using it as a distraction from the struggle against an ongoing genocide. It’s diluted by attempts to tar all those struggling against mass murder as anti-semitic. It is not anti-semitism to criticise Israel. It is not anti-semitism to stand against the IDF attack on Palestinian people, or against the apartheid system that Palestinians have to live under. It’s not anti-semitism to demand that our government support referring Israel to the International Court of Justice, or to demand that Australia recognises Palestine.

By throwing the term ‘anti-semitism’ around, Leeser is cheapening the concept. By demanding a Royal Commission into the students, on the premise that anti-semitism is the only thing the students are about, Leeser is using anti-semitism as a weapon against protest.

This paper recently interviewed an organiser from the Australian National University encampment. They joined the encampment because they were appalled at what the IDF were doing in Palestine. Asked about the  claims of anti-semitism, they replied that the encampment was doing its utmost to listen to all students and to keep all students safe.

The Communist Party of Australia will continue to oppose mass murder and apartheid, as will thousands of Australians who, like us, abhor anti-semitism. If Julian Leeser is opposed to that, it says more about him than it does about the rest of us.

Let’s go back to the question at the top of this editorial. What’s the Israeli assault on Palestine about? It’s mass murder. It’s important that we do everything we can to stop it.

That’s what this is about.

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