Mohamed Hassan from Students for Justice in Palestine, reads a statement from our comrade Jehad Quidah in Gaza. Jehad has become a firm friend of many in NZ through Facebook.
Joe Carolan from Socialist Aotearoa
Mike Treen from Unite and GPJA
Billy Hania from the Palestinian Human Rights Campaign speaks with Tamara, a young Israeli refusenik now living in Aotearoa. Also joined By Hone Fowler, who reads out a letter from his father Roger, who was on a mission from Kia Ora Gaza when the bombing began. Finally, Linda from SA stands up as a revolutionary socialist, Anti Zionist Jewish person.
Around 300 people marched from Aotea Square to the US consulate in Auckland on Saturday, in solidarity with Gaza, calling for an end to Israeli attacks on the Gazan population and the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands. Impassioned chants echoed off the walls of the CBD, calling “Free Palestine”, “Israel, USA, how many kids have you killed today?” and “Blood on your hands”.
Despite the so-called ceasefire, a there was a larger turnout than the weekend before , which shows that Israeli propaganda is becoming weaker and people are no longer swallowing the line that Israel is only 'trying to defend itself'. More and more people are coming to understand that an invading and occupying force with the world's fourth largest military machine, lording it over a defenceless population locked within ever-encroaching borders, cannot be described as 'defending itself'. More like shooting fish in a barrel.
Several people from diverse backgrounds gave inspiring speeches in support of the terrorised Gazans, including Jews, Palestinians, Syrians, students and socialists. Among them was an Israeli woman who spoke of her courageous refusal to serve in the Israeli military, resulting in her being shunned from her family home and ostracised among her peers. She also reminded us that there are tens of thousands of other Israeli Jews against the occupation. These people are especially brave, risking being smeared with such ridiculous epithets as 'self-hating Jew' and 'holocaust denier', some of whom have been imprisoned for speaking out against apartheid. When the state of Israel was established in 1948 after the horrors of WWII, the resounding sentiment was “Never again!” And yet, it happened again – those who vowed never to forget the holocaust are now visiting it upon another people.
The 'ceasefire' is a PR illusion. Two days after it was announced, a young Palestinian man was shot in the head on the border (buffer zone) by an Israeli soldier, and ten others were injured. The ceasefire is meaningless, nothing changes until the aggressive programme of ethnic cleansing by the Israeli state is stopped. Until there is an end to apartheid, which treats Palestinians like inferior citizens in their own land, prevents them from reaching their own hospitals, universities and families, denies their right of self-determination and democratic rule, until Israel withdraws its war machines and dismantles its walls and barbed wire and check points, and stops flouting endless UN resolutions and international laws, there can be no real peace in the region. Fear stifles people from speaking out. Fear of appearing insensitive, 'one-sided', politically incorrect, fear of alienation, especially in the case of Israel/Palestine, such is the emotional blackmail that the Israeli propaganda machine has succeeded in perpetuating. Fear paralyses us. But this is changing. Internationally Israel is starting to lose the PR war. In London 10-15,000 turned out to protest Israeli aggression. Similar demonstrations around the world have shaken Israel's support.
According to documentarian Harry Fear, reporting from within Gaza throughout the onslaught, the real numbers of people hurt were 'over 160 Palestinians killed, over 1000 injured'. Thousands of homes have also been damaged.
Socialist Aotearoa's Joe Carolan spoke of the new Egyptian government's promises, one of which was to stand up to any Israeli military attacks on Gaza. Morsi's government has now proved that it is just as much of a dictatorship as Mubarack's, breaking most of his election promises, ignoring the will of the people and now granting himself pharaoh-like powers that exempt him from judicial oversight – the revolution is still to be won in Egypt. 600 Egyptian revolutionary activists crossed the border into Gaza this week amid the bombing, to bring their support to ravaged Gaza. A truly revolutionary Egypt would be able to end the bloodshed and the blockade overnight. The Morsi government is eager to maintain Egypt's cosy relationship with America and therefore Israel. But Egyptians are realising they have been betrayed, and in the last few days have come out on the streets again in their thousands.
Mike Treen of Global Peace and Justice Auckland called for a boycott of companies that support Israel and the infrastructure of occupation and apartheid, such as Auckland Transport's contract with Veolia, a company that operates in Israel and Palestine, linking illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory, instrumental in restricting the movement of Palestinians in their own land. Another company, Caterpillar is another company NZ should boycott, which supplies the bulldozers that demolish Palestinian homes and killed peace activist Rachel Corrie, and enjoys investment from the NZ Superfund. Our taxes, set aside to invest in our own futures, are meanwhile being used to destroy the futures of others. This is an action that any New Zealander can take to fight apartheid. We can't all travel to Gaza and be hero journalists, but we can demand our government stop propping up apartheid in our name. And we can continue to build ties with the brave Palestinians and Israelis fighting the same oppressive regime, so they know the world is watching and they are not forgotten.
Sian Robertson, Socialist Aotearoa.