Gareth W R Smith – Palestine Liberation Centre, Byron Bay
Normally people like us, nearing 80 years, would be in aged care or a retirement village and not planning on batting down the highway in our Palestinemobile to protest at the Israeli embassy in Canberra. However, we are inspired to emulate Aboriginal activist, A M Fernando, who protested alone outside Australia House in the UK. Suffering all manner of abuse he risked being labelled a vagrant or insane, and was transported back to Australia under assimilationism, which meant that he, like Aboriginals in general, was considered incapable of living without government oversight. In court he said, ‘They say we are savages, but it is all tommy rot. The white man came and shot us down. If we were not shot we were exposed to slow starvation, or we were hanged. Since 1887 I have pleaded for the Australian natives. Do as you like with me, but the natives of Australia must be looked upon as human beings.’
It is easy to see the similarities between his protest and ours. We are protesting against the colonial settler state of Israel’s brutal persecution of Palestinians who are considered ‘untermensch’, sub-humans not worthy of comparison to Jews, and certainly not entitled to the same civic and life benefits.
We are outraged that Australia, like so many ‘advanced’ nations, sides with Israel and that Scott Morrison is the proud recipient of the Jerusalem Prize. He said, ‘Israel is a beacon of democracy… Israel can always rely on Australia’. The Romans used to shackle a prisoner to a rotting corpse. This is a suitable analogy for the Israel/Australia relationship!