In Australia there are about 106 towns and cities in sister city or twinned relationship with counterparts worldwide. Lismore is twinned with towns in Ireland, Japan and the US but Byron doesn’t get a mention even though it hosted 2.3 million visitors before the pandemic.
Byron’s unique position of being an international tourist icon gives it the opportunity to raise public consciousness about Gaza, the world’s biggest outdoor prison holding 2.1 million people under the third longest siege in history. The besieged Gazans are thwarted at every turn by Israel as they seek medical treatment not locally available or wish to take up scholarships abroad.
They are regularly bombed, which Israel calls ‘mowing the grass’! Fisherfolk are shot at sea, boats are confiscated and crews forced to swim back in icy waters. Israel bombs hospitals, like Al Shifa, water treatment and sewerage works, and power generation and leaves the environment deeply polluted with cancerous ordnance residues and depleted uranium.
Israel has reduced this once bustling and thriving coastal city to a living necropolis resembling Hiroshima or WWII Dresden. Byron Friends of Palestine call on our mayoral candidates to seriously commit themselves to twinning Byron Bay with Gaza and to give the dispossessed a face.