Scores of Byron shire residents marched through the streets of Byron Bay on Saturday for the second time in a month in solidarity with the people of Gaza who are under siege, bombardment and occupation by Israel.
Marchers chanted ‘Free Palestine’, ‘End the Siege’, and ‘Stop the War Machine’ during the march, part of a global ‘Day of Rage’ to protest the genocide on Palestinians and to demand their freedom from Israeli occupation.
Local Nick Sayers told the rally at Main Beach that ‘the bombing of women and children anywhere is a war crime’. ‘I’m a Christian. I was indoctrinated into supporting Zionist Christian mentalities. I feel ashamed. I am unlearning all the indoctrination of the churches in support of Zionism,’ Mr Sayers said.
‘Jesus would never have put up with this.’
Mr Sayers criticised the Australian government for ‘blindly supporting Israel. Our country has been taken over by tyrants’.
Another local, Jarel, said ‘I’m a Zionist who supports Palestinians. Jews and Palestinians are brothers. Palestinians were originally Hebrews who converted to Islam. Who has the right to deny them the right to return to their land?
‘I feel Jews and Palestinians can live in peace with equal rights for all and Israel can become a model of tolerance,’ Jarel said.
Frank Khouri said ‘America has been sucked into a vortex of debt and the only way they can climb out is by becoming a war economy. America needs villains’.
‘They created the Taliban and Al Qaida. Any villain will do, even created by central casting. Religion is a false flag. This is not about religion, it’s about human rights.’
Activist Rihab Charida said ‘Israel was created on top of over 100 massacres and the massacres still continue. Co-existence for all is what we are fighting for. We are all “chosen people”,’ Ms Chariba said. ‘We salute the courageous resistance of the Palestinian people,’ she said. ‘The resistance gives us hope. But this is not enough. Only the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) will stop Israeli apartheid. It worked in South Africa.’
Ms Chariba told the scores of people that ‘we can all make a difference by using applications for smart phones like Buycott, a bar code scanner that helps consumers vote with their wallet to avoid funding products and organisations that support genocide and apartheid’.
Peace activist Margeaux Marshall said ‘It’s natural to feel anger and rage at the situation, but let’s not forget joy and peace’. Ms Marshall said that in earlier conflicts young people on both sides expressed the hope that ‘we will not hate, we will win’.
Organisers have planned a sunset candlelight vigil at Main Beach on Sunday 24 August, to be followed by a fundraiser, including a forum and entertainment, at Byron Community Centre theatre at 7pm for the children of Gaza.