Holding to Human Rights in Marrickville

Fiona Byrne keeps the faith on the universal relevance of human rights and the oppression of Palestinian people.

I am proud to have been one of five Greens and four ALP councillors on Marrickville who took the global message to local government.

We believe that we represent citizens who would not want their money being used to support the on-going dispossession of the Palestinian people.

We led Marrickville into support of the global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, a grassroots movement, aimed at pushing the Israeli government to comply with international humanitarian law.

Rupert Murdoch, Barry O’Farrell, and, sadly, some of the leaders of the Labor Party felt differently.

They clearly believe that Australia is best served by the cone of silence on Middle Eastern policy that pervades our politics and our media, whether it is Israel, Syria or any other country where the struggle for human rights continues.

We do not agree.

I’m proud to have recently heard the story from my parents’ homeland of 12 department store workers in Dublin who in the mid-’80s went on strike for two-and-a-half years for the right to not handle goods from apartheid South Africa.

Initially they were vilified, but as the sanctions movement grew their courageous stand gave hope and strength to those fighting for their human rights half a world away.

Relevant Links

BARGHOUTI: Setting the record straight on BDS

The Marrickville Council was on the right side of history when it first chose to endorse the global BDS campaign. It remains so by insisting on Palestinian rights, despite the tactical setback. Brave Australians had done the same when responding to the calls from the oppressed South African majority under apartheid. We expect no less from conscientious Australians today in response to our urgent appeal for effective solidarity. I have no doubt that one day commentators and activists will mark Marrickville’s decision as the true beginning of mainstreaming BDS in Australia and of finally standing up to Israel’s lobby and for the rights of Palestinians.

Palestine debate widens despite council BDS backdown

The campaign against Marrickville Council’s support for BDS shows just how worried apologists for Israel are about the growing global support for an ethical local policy towards Israel based on its treatment of Palestinians.

Palestine / Israel Links

Facebook campaigns launched for Palestinian boycott of Israeli products
Israeli Foreign Minister urges boycott of PA – Hamas government

The developments on Wednesday represent an unambiguous failure of Israel’s long-standing policy of ‘divide and rule’. It was in pursuit of such a strategy that Israel began to fund Hamas in the late seventies and eighties, in order to undermine the secular Palestinian leadership of the PLO. This strategy appears to have backfired dramatically, in a similar fashion to Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, which resulted in the creation of the other asymmetric threat on Israel’s borders, the Shi’ia Hizbollah movement.

In retrospect, such a development was always likely in view of the utter intransigence of Israeli negotiators revealed by the Palestinian Papers. The leaked documents reveal a supine, if not desperate, Palestinian negotiating team making sweeping concessions on refugees right to return, the legal status of the Temple Mount and illegal settlements in East Jerusalem, to no avail. Such obduracy, arguably far in excess of what hardline Zionist Vladamir Jabotinsky was recommending in his doctrine of the Iron Wall, recalls Golda Meir’s stance towards Anwar Sadat in 1971, a stance that led inexorably to the Yom Kippur War.

Gaza is a symbol of occupation, thanks to Israel : Israel’s Pavlovian response to Palestinian reconciliation, which included the usual threats of boycott, is the result of the ingrained anxiety of people who no longer control the process

Bassem Tamimi: “Our destiny is to resist”

The occupation is continuous in Israeli society and this is why they lose — because they try to force us to accept them as an occupier, and that will never happen. We don’t have any problem with Jewish people. Our problem is with Zionism. We don’t hate them on the other side; we simply demand that they end the occupation of their minds. The separation between us is between different ways of thinking, not between land. If we change our ways of thought and remove the mentality of occupation from our minds — not just from the land — we can live together and build a paradise.

The army is determined to push us toward violent resistance. They realize that the popular resistance we are waging with Israelis and internationals from the outside, they can’t use their tanks and bombs. And this way of struggling gives us a good reputation. Suicide bombing was a big mistake because it allowed Israel to say we are terrorists and then to use that label to force us from our land. We know they want a land without people — they only want the land and the water — so our destiny is to resist. They give us no other choice.