The Palestinian Great March of Return have entered their fourth week and continued unabated despite violent attack from Israeli military forces. The media and Australian government (including the opposition) is determined to see these events as “deadly unrest”. It’s clear however that the violence comes from Israeli forces upholding their colonial power and defending apartheid state from a largely peaceful mass movement.
The protest was explicitly planned to be a large, non-violent demonstration. Organisers planned their march to stay away from the Israeli forces, and the border. Organisers told Ha’aretz their goal was “to present the Palestinians’ case to the world and not to engage in confrontations with the Israeli army.”
Israel responded with brute force. The army shot on camera isolated and unarmed Palestinians hundreds of metres from their soldiers, posing no threat. All who get within 300 yards are labelled “instigators” by the Israeli army, whose soldiers have orders to shoot them. The sheer scale of the casualties on the first day of the protest is striking, with as many as 16 killed and 1,415 injured, of whom 758 were hit by live fire according to Gaza health officials.
Israeli human rights group condemned the murders: “Shooting unarmed demonstrators is illegal and the command that allows it is manifestly illegal”. So far, Israel has faced little criticism from an international and Australian media uninterested in the Gaza story, or else is happy to go along with Israel’s interpretation of events. But The political price of besieging or blockading urban areas like Gaza is rising because it is impossible to prevent information about the suffering of Palestinians becoming public. The courage of Palestinians fighting against their oppression demands our solidarity. Join this speakout on campus to condemn the Gaza massacre, to demand the Australian government cut ties with Israel, and to support freedom and justice for Palestine. See event here – https://www.facebook.com/events/204196530178448/.
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Education Officers Report
Lara Sonnenschein and Lily Campbell
Hey all, hope your assignments are getting done in reasonable time and the student poverty isn’t bothering you too bad this week. The Education officers have been keeping busy engaged with a range of campaigns, particularly with Palestine Solidarity activism, the ACTU Change the Rules campaign and building the Black Deaths in Custody campaign. Following recent events on the Gaza border, in which over 30 Palestinian peaceful protestors have been murdered by the Israeli Occupation Forces, we have been working in close collaboration with Students for Palestine on campus and Hersha Kadkol, NUS Ethnocultural Officer. Together we have helped to organise an action/speak out on campus for May 2, you can find it on Facebook by searching ‘Stand with Palestine: Raise the Flag at USYD’. Please come along and join us, and if you would like to help spread the word please contact myself (Lily) or Lara for materials.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions and Unions NSW have called a May Day rally for May 6, as part of the Change the Rules campaign. This is a good campaign that seeks to put union rights at the front of political discussion in Australia – as the left we want to put forward the argument that the current industrial relations system will only be challenged through industrial action, defying the rules. We are co-hosting the ‘Strike to Change the Rules’ contingent to the rally and encourage all students to come along.
On May 12 there is a protest organised by FIRE against Black Deaths In Custody. Showing solidarity with Aboriginal people should be of paramount importance to all student activists in this deeply racist country. Building for this rally will form much of our work in weeks to come.
And finally, what may be the final Turnbull budget is coming up soon – watch this space! We will be planning an action in the week following the budget – it’s sure to be a classic Liberal budget full of attacks on students.