Around 100 students, staff and supporters gathered on Eastern Avenue on Thursday for a snap action organised by Students Against War (SAW) in solidarity with Palestinians, as Israel continues to escalate its violent occupation of Gaza.
Angus Dermody, speaking on behalf of SAW as chair of the rally, stated the importance of rallying on campus in solidarity with Palestinians facing increasingly vicious attacks at the hands of Israel in Gaza, as well as Palestinians and the broader Arab community in Australia in the face of increasing anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia as a result of the media coverage of Israel’s actions.
The rally was addressed by an array of speakers to demonstrate the “breadth of solidarity” for the Palestinian struggle on campus.
Vieve Carnsew — a Barkindji student activist and SAW member — spoke first, highlighting the connected nature of the Palestinian struggle and the First Nations struggle in Australia.
“When Aboriginal people fought European settlers invading their land, this was an act of resistance against colonisation and the same can be said for Palestine’s fight against Israel’s invasion,” Carnsew said.
Ban Hasanin, a Palestinian activist, spoke on the situation in Gaza and the right of Palestinians to resist Israel’s occupation: “It is ethnic cleansing. And there are no unprovoked responses to 75 years of ethnic cleansing. Think about that when you call for peace and make sure that your calls for peace include an end to the occupation.”
The call for an end to the occupation was backed up by a Jewish activist.
“I’m here to say not in my name. As a Jewish person, I stand firmly in solidarity with Palestinian liberation and not with the genocidal terror of the Israeli state,” they affirmed.
They also responded to the claim that it is anti-semitic to oppose the state of Israel: “the weaponisation of anti-semitism to justify atrocities against the Palestinian people, the identification of Jewishness with the Israeli state and its apartheid regime; these are unconscionable crimes and risk the lives of innocent people everywhere.”
A Chinese student activist speaking on behalf of SAW highlighted the need to fight Australian imperialism in supporting Palestinian liberation, particularly in relation to the parties of the AUKUS alliance and their support for Israel.
“Their reason for doing this is the same reason that they are pouring billions into nuclear subs and AUKUS… the outcome has nothing to do with human rights.”
Jasmine Al-Rawi of Students for Palestine shared these criticisms: “The Australian government is complicit. The Labor Party is complicit.”
The final speaker was David Brophy — an academic and member of the NTEU — who spoke on the need for union solidarity, including at our own University, with the Palestinian struggle.
“The bare minimum is to say that until such time as the basic preconditions for justice are met,” Brophy said, “until that time, we will not help to normalise a violent, expansionist, colonial regime by collaborating with Israeli academic institutions. We will heed the call for BDS.”
Another rally for Palestine is planned for 1pm on Sunday October 29 at Sydney Town Hall.