Now in their sixteenth week, thousands rallied in Hyde Park in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza and against Israel’s genocide in Palestine.
Organised by Sydney’s Palestine Action Group, and chaired by Josh Lee and Palestinian activist Assala Sayara, Sunday’s rally highlighted a number of developments both in Gaza and the political response in Australia. Lee reflected on the Invasion Day protests nationwide, and also on the NSW Police findings that videos supposedly showing demonstrators repeating the phrase “gas the Jews” were not authentic.
Senator for New South Wales and Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, acknowledged the solidarity between Palestinians and First Nations people. She went on to criticise the actions of the Albanese Labor government, asking the crowd; “how low can the Albanese Government go? Every time we think they have reached a new low, they sink lower.”
In particular, Faruqi condemned Labor’s decision to defund the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), on which virtually all of Gaza’s population rely for their basic needs.
Palestinian speaker Rita Emad, a high-school student from Gaza, described her experience witnessing Israel’s genocide from Australia, and witnessing her martyred family members plastered on social media “like some kind of aesthetic.” Emad reaffirmed the resilience of Palestinian students in Australia in continuing to pressure the government to cut ties with Israel; “Palestinians are here to stay, and we are here to fight.”
Yasmine Johnson, an anti-Zionist Jewish activist and student at UTS, closed the rally by highlighting the complicity of many of Australia’s tertiary institutions — particularly the University of Sydney, which has partnerships with weapons manufacturer Thales and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, an Israeli university in an illegally-occupied area of the West Bank. Johnson also reminded attendees of the upcoming School Strike for Palestine, which will see high school and university students rally in front of Sydney’s Town Hall on Thursday 29 February.
Palestine Action Group will continue these weekly rallies in Hyde Park, with the next demonstration scheduled for 1:30pm on Sunday 11 February.