Over a hundred demonstrators gathered outside Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s Marrickville electorate office for the third week in a row, demanding an end to Australia’s support for Israel’s genocide and a ceasefire in Gaza.
The weekly rallies are hosted by cross-campus organising group Students for Palestine, and have seen a huge growth in attendance over the past three weeks. Chaired by 2024 USyd SRC Education Officer Shovan Bhattarai and 2024 USyd SRC Ethnocultural Officer Sidra Ghanawi, the rally acknowledged that Albanese governs over land which was “founded on a violent and bloody process of genocide and dispossession” similar to what is “unfolding in Gaza right now […] and we stand in solidarity with the Indigenous fight against their oppression.”
Bhattarai continued, pointing out the uncertainty in death tolls as “we still don’t know how many more bodies are trapped underneath the rubble of these buildings. We still don’t know how many of the 21,000 people and counting in Gaza, who are injured, will succumb to their injuries as Israel continues their reign of terror.”
Wiradjuri and Wailwan activist and 2024 USyd SRC First Nations Officer Ethan Floyd spoke first, noting that “Albanese and Wong have been quick to hide behind the platitude that Israel has a right to defend itself. But they ignore the actions of Netanyahu and the fact that they have been offensive from the very beginning. They have been on the offensive for 75 years.”
Floyd also addressed that “off the back of an incompetent referendum campaign which he botched beyond all comprehension, Albanese has proven once again that he will always take the side of the oppressor and never the oppressed.”
Ghanawi then commended the rally’s turnout, “I want to say that I’m proud of us that we have continued to show up, but we must not falter. Every 10 minutes, a Palestinian child is murdered in Gaza.”
“We must continue. We must continue this movement because our Palestinian brothers and sisters are seeing us. We are giving as much as we can, and they need more. Continue to write to your local MPs, write to Wong, write to Albanese, follow Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions and educate those around you.”
A Palestinian activist and USyd student raised that “the biggest mistake that the Israeli state ever made was not giving Palestinians their right of return. Because those 800,000 Palestinian refugees and their descendants are now scattered across the planet. They are clutching their house keys and the memories of their destroyed villages and have learned hundreds of languages and are able to touch the hearts of millions of people.”
They then continued to challenge narratives that dominate the media, “When everyday people look at the genocide unfolding in Gaza today and ask us, pro-Palestinian people, why don’t we condemn Hamas? Well, we must ask them, do you condemn the Nakba? Do you condemn a system of apartheid? Do you condemn the military occupation of the West Bank? And do you condemn the suffocating conditions that have turned Gaza into a concentration camp? We are tired of the victim blaming. We are tired of the Islamophobic and anti-Arab tropes that Palestinian men and all their family members are somehow deserving of genocide for daring to pick up a stone, for daring to pick up a rifle, or daring to challenge the borders which cage us like animals.”
Similar sentiments were echoed by a Palestinian activist and poet, “Prime Minister Albanese tells the world that in Australia we are okay with the murdering of children, the erasure of families, the targeting of the homes of journalists, targeting ambulances and the mass displacement of an indigenous population. Albanese tells the world that Australians believe that this is self defence. We are here to say, no, we don’t.”
The activist then criticised Albanese’s activist roots, “What happened to the Minister who started his career protesting in these very protests, voicing against Israeli war crimes and the systematic oppression of the Palestinians? What happened to the Minister who stood at Question Time in a keffiyeh and spoke in support of the Palestinian people’s aspirations for basic human rights? For equal rights. Mr. Albanese, it is in this way that you are a disappointment — not because you support Israeli atrocities, the other side would do the same anyway. It’s that you, yourself, have recognized and understood the plight and you sold out so easily.”
Josh Lees, an activist from Palestine Action Group spoke to the movement that has been growing across the world in the past few weeks, “There’s an occupier and an occupied, there’s a coloniser and a colonised, there’s oppressor and oppressed and people know what side they’re on and they’re not being browbeaten by the media. They’re not giving a shit what the governments of the world try to paint them as, to demonise our movement.”
Lees continued to urge the crowd to continue to keep showing up, and fighting “We’re going to need to build a movement that fights for the Palestinians in the West Bank, that fights for the Palestinians in East Jerusalem, that fights for the Palestinians living within the borders of apartheid, so called Israel, today, who are second class citizens, who are oppressed and discriminated against by dozens and dozens of laws which treat Jews differently to how they treat the Palestinian population.”
2023 USyd SRC Vice President Rose Donnelly then spoke to the failure of the government, “Anthony Albanese and the Labour Party cabinet have failed us and lied to us. You have failed the test that is standing with the oppressed. I worked on the Voice this year, and for what? When you would have stood by the genocide of our Indigenous people as well. Your prejudices and your unflinching adherence to imperialism shows that you have lied to us about your values and that is why you are not fit to lead and why you have blood on our hands and as a result you also have put blood on the hands of all Australians as well.”
Donnelly then stated that “We in the youth wing will continue to strike against you until you call for a cease fire and we will not stop coming out to the protests on Saturdays and Sundays. Since you will not call for a ceasefire, we will make you. If we facilitate this genocide, racism and hatred will live at the heart of our country forever.”
Kim S, a Jewish activist for Palestine and a member of UNSW Students for Palestine, was the final speaker for the rally, addressing the false narratives that conflate Judaism with Zionism.
“My great grandfather did not perish in Auschwitz so Israel could destroy another people, so Israel could introduce a genocide — a strangling siege on Gaza to carpet bomb them. That is not why that happened.”
He then continued to add “I think there’s a particular responsibility for Jews as well. Jews who have to hear every day that the reason that the state of Israel is doing a genocide is to protect us all. What a load of absolute bullshit. Never again means now.”
Students for Palestine will be rallying again next Friday 17 November at 4pm outside Albanese’s office protesting the governments complicity in genocide. A protest will be taking place at Port Botany tomorrow Saturday 11 November at 12pm to block the ZIM Israeli shipping line boat. Another rally at Hyde Park hosted by Palestine Action Group will be taking place at Hyde Park this Sunday 12 November at 1pm.