Thursday, July 24, 2014

Standing on the right side of history

New Zealand has a long, proud record of standing on the right side of history. Sending the navy to protest nuclear testing in the pacific, being the first country to give women the vote, taking a stand against nuclear energy, and helping end South African apartheid. There is a deep moral fibre of what's right and wrong that runs through New Zealand society, which in the past has been reflected by the government of the day. That day is not today.

In Gaza, a vicious assault is occurring on the Palestinian people. Blood is running in the streets, neighbourhoods are being destroyed, children targeted, and family's ripped apart. The aggressors, the IDF on behalf of the Israeli Zionist state have been indiscriminately bombing Gaza and it's civilian population for years, and this is only the most recent occurrence. Israel has systematically been encroaching on Palestinian land for years, and what is left of Palestinian territory is only a fraction of what was once Palestine. From the birth of the Israeli state, Gaza has been occupied or under restrictions since 1948.

 Years of propaganda on behalf of Israel has left many in the international community brainwashed by their lies. Cries of anti-Semitism ring out whenever criticism is levelled at Israel. Calls to protect and defend the children of the holocaust and their right to a homeland have in the past trumped the rights of Palestinians to live free from Zionist aggression. But Israeli lies are now becoming so blatant and so outrageous, that Israel is now being seen for what it is; a racist, apartheid state.

 We have fought apartheid before, it was on a different continent, with a different group of people, but the rhetoric is the same; The oppression of one group of people by another in order to maintain a racist ideology. New Zealand took a stand then, with huge swathes of kiwis taking to the streets against the springboks led by HART (Halt All Racist Tours). This was a defining moment in the fight against apartheid in South Africa. We helped beat back apartheid then, we can beat apartheid in Palestine.

The stakes have been raised, Israel has played it's hand, sending ground troops into heavily built up civilian areas. The systematic targeting of children, hospitals, and schools has shown the inhuman face of the Israeli 'cause'. For years the threat of a ground invasion was used as a deterrent, a way of forcing the Palestinians into submission. But a deterrent is only as good as the threat that it poses, now that they have played their hand and are sustaining heavy Israeli casualties, the once powerful facade of Israeli military might is crumbling. The most expensive high tech military hardware is being used on women and children, but the Palestinians are fighting back, fighting for their homes, for their neighbourhoods, and for their families. It is no longer an option to call for a ceasefire, Israel has shown in the past it wont respect that. The siege of Gaza needs to end.

Our government has taken a stance calling for both sides of the conflict to show restraint. But when you have on one side, the most sophisticated weaponry and highly trained military personal, on the other, home made rockets, stones and desperate civilians, this call rings hollow. When you remain neutral in situations of aggression, you side with the oppressor. Our New Zealand government, in taking this stance has sided with Israel, sitting on the wrong side of history. We can look back at our fight against South African apartheid with pride, knowing we were on the right side of history then. In 20 years time, will we be able to do the same in this current conflict?

We have an opportunity to put pressure on our political parties to show their true colours. Do you side with the Zionist aggressors? Or do you side with the Palestinian oppressed? We need to be making this call felt and make it an election issue heading into September 20th. Will they show leadership on this issue, or wait, hoping it will eventually blow over? The Palestinian people do not simply want a ceasefire, they want an end to the siege of Gaza. We have a responsibility to put pressure on our political leaders, our unions, our churches, to side with an oppressed people fighting for their right to survive.

Mana has taken the lead in calling for the closure of the Israeli embassy, but we need the rest of the political establishment to follow their lead. The argument was won within Mana on supporting Palestine over Israel, this needs to happen in all our political institutions. As socialists, we are active in political parties, unions, advocacy groups, and social movements. We need to agitate for these establishments to stand with Palestine. Just like South Africa, we need to isolate the Israeli regime, through boycotts, divestments, and sanctions. The battle needs to be fought on many fronts, but this battle needs to win. We need to make sure we come out of this standing on the right side of history.

See you in the streets.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Freedom for Palestine

On Saturday the 19th of July up to 5000 New Zealanders took to the streets of Auckland. Their demands were nothing less than the end of Israeli violence against Palestine. Over the last two weeks the Israeli military has rained down bombs and missiles with impunity on the Palestinian people. No one has been spared, mothers, fathers, children, even whole families have been wiped out by Israeli ordinance. The disabled are not even given a reprieve, with those injured and maimed by blasts and shrapnel from previous Israeli bombing campaigns finally murdered as Israel finishes the job.
Israel, as with previous bombing campaigns, accuses Palestinian civilians of being sheep who are herded into the war zone by Hamas terrorists. But this is merely an attempt to muddle the facts and excuse murder as collateral damage. This so called "war zone" is where Palestinian neighbourhoods and homes are located, crushed within an ever shrinking border as Israel illegally seizes territory from Palestinians. They have no where left to go, unwilling to leave their lives and homes, and if they do leave, there is no guarantee their occupied land would ever be returned. Thus these are not war zones, but sanctuaries Palestinians are reluctant to leave, upon which Israel reigns death.
Hamas are the elected leaders of Gaza, and the only organisation which has shown the will to resist Israeli aggression. That is why they won, because Palestinians have no option but to resist, if they stopped they would be left at the tender mercy of Israeli bulldozers. They are decried as terrorists by Israeli politicians and our own media, but how can someone who seeks to defend their borders from a vastly superior force which occupies their nation as a matter of course, be called a terrorist, are they not partisans? We may disagree with their politics but until free from occupation they cannot put down their guns.
So it was with conviction that 5000 people marched in solidarity with Palestine upon the United States embassy, the largest financial and moral supporter of Israeli aggression. The U.S has only called upon Israel to 'minimize' casualties, seeing any civilian deaths as acceptable we denounce as repugnant and criminal. Outside the embassy protesters laid olive branches to symbolise their solidarity for peace for the Palestinian people, and sung "We are all Palestinians".
This has been done before but was unique and valuable for a two reasons. Firstly this was the largest protest for the freedom of Palestine in New Zealand, ever. This is significant, it represents the slipping of the Israeli/imperialist story about plucky Israel beset upon all sides by 'terrorists'. This represents a portion of the population who have seen through the hegemony of the Israeli narrative, a chink opened by the suffering of Palestinians and the valiant efforts of activists. We must set about widening this chink into a gaping chasm, until the majority of the population can no longer doubt the complicity of our own government in supporting Israel and its murderous agenda.
Secondly, for the first time in New Zealand history, a political party has decided to unreservedly support the Palestinian struggle for freedom. The MANA Movement has called for political and economic isolation of the Israeli state.
Socialist Aotearoa was invested in this internal debate and is delighted in the stance MANA has taken. However this raises new questions over the unity of these two factors, growing solidarity for Palestine and a new left parliamentary party with strong ties to both indigenous and workers struggle.
MANA could be a sizable voice in further challenging the existing narrative over the Palestinian conflict, while providing a much broader base from which pro-Palestinian activists could work in a sympathetic  atmosphere. Conversely as the Imperialist narrative collapses, MANA could stand to gain substantial votes from an electorate who recognises in MANA a party willing to take a stand, not just on domestic but also international injustices. These ideas need to be further discussed and a cohesive plan assembled to avoid squandering a historic opportunity to both build a mass workers party and international struggle.
Therefore, Socialist Aotearoa is holding a public meeting on:
Wednesday the 23rd of July, 7:30 pm, at Unite Union, 6a Western Springs road, Kingsland.
Workers of the world unite!
By Dave J.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Solidarity for Palestine

We stand in solidarity with our Palestinian sisters and brothers being murdered by Israel. It is unconscionable to stand by and say nothing as Gaza is bombed into the stone age, its people displaced and children slaughtered. When doctors are forced to evacuate hospitals full of sick patients because of Israeli bombs, it shows how inhumane the Israeli assault is, and how indiscriminate their targeting of civilians are. Dr Basman Alashi, executive director of Al-Wafa rehab and geriatric hospital in eastern Gaza City described the assault on the electronic intafada;

       “It started just before nine, they started it and it continued every other minute, firing at the           hospital. They started on the fourth floor, continued to the third, then from the back of the hospital, then to the side, then to the front, then they cut the electricity, we have fuel everywhere. I don’t know the extent of the damage but it reached a point where my nurses were unable to function, unable to stand, unable to help the patients,” Alashi said.

This is not a war, it's a military assault on a civilian population guilty of being trapped in area of land 40km long 8km wide. Guilty of being forced out of their native homeland, guilty of not being able to travel freely in their homeland, guilty of being palestinian.

John Minto of GPJA and Mana says;

"For 66 years the Palestinian people have been brutalised by an apartheid Israeli government. The ground offensive begun this morning is just a continuation of murder and mayhem Israel has visited upon Palestinians every day since 1948.
For example on average every three days over the past 13 years a Palestinian child had been murdered by Israel. You'd never know that reading our mainstream media which are little more than propaganda mouthpieces for Israel just as the media were once propaganda outlets for the racist white South African government.
The firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel has never been the issue. They are a symptom of the real problem which is Israel's brutal military occupation of the West Bank; its medieval siege of Gaza; its on-going theft of Palestinian land; its apartheid wall; its murder of Palestinians on a daily basis...
The only thing for humanity to celebrate from all this is the heroism of the Palestinian people. Their spirit of indominable determination and resistance will win through in the end.
Our job in New Zealand is to stand squarely with the Palestinian people and isolate the apartheid Israeli government and its vile and inhuman policies and practices.
Share the poster and come to the march tomorrow and show the brutal bullies that we stand with Palestinians.
We are all Palestinians!"

Thursday, July 03, 2014

We shall not be moved.


Ioela Rauti known by her friends as Niki, is a member of the Tamaki Housing Group, which has been fighting the good fight for all Housing New Zealand (HNZ) tenants, who do not want to be moved out of their HNZ homes. Once the TRC (Tamaki Re-developement Company) set foot in Glen Innes, their mission was to transform this community into their vision without consultation from the very people living there. The community never agreed to this transformation. They do not want to be moved out of the homes that have housed them for many years.

Niki, along with some support people met with HNZ staff who were only interested in giving Niki her 90 day eviction notice, and to get her to sign a new agreement document. She chose not to sign and made her intention quite clear to HNZ that; “SHE WILL NOT BE MOVED”. Niki's eviction notice had a date of 12 of August and on this day she would have to vacate her home of 21 years.


From day one, Niki and her supporters, protested outside Niki's house twice a day 7am to 9am, and 3.30pm to 5pm as these were peak traffic hours. On both sides of the road were large readable protest statements along the fences. Propped up by a tree on the berm was a blackboard which showed how many days were left out of the 90 days before what we called D-day; the eviction, would happen. We did this every day without fail and sometimes in wet, cold and rainy weather. The only comforting thing during the bad weather, would have to of been the toots of support from the passing cars, and the words of encouragement from pedestrians walking by. This gave us hope and the strength to carry on. We shared some life stories whilst out on the front line. These gave me an insight into just how much integrity and Mana this woman has. We must win this at all costs.

With each passing day the thought of an eviction was becoming quite daunting to say the least. Looking at the signs “Evict John Key Not Me”, “Stop Bullying the elderly”, and “Developers Out”, as well as being able to take in the beautiful water views (the reason why Niki had to leave her home), certainly highlighted the injustice of what was happening in Glen Innes. This too made our resolve to Stand up and fight back even more necessary.


On July the 2nd, after 47 days straight and with only 43 days left to go, Niki received a letter from HNZ that there is now a variation to her eviction notice. She has been given another 7 months in her home. Absolute joy, relief and cheers of accomplishment were echoed from everyone once this news spread. What happened? And why had HNZ suddenly relented. Who cared? not us right now, we had a major WIN. The grass roots had taken it to the streets and WON, albeit a minor win, but a win none the less. More than likely John Key and his National caucus didn't want such a fuss going on leading up to and during the general election, or maybe he had heard that a lot of the toots of support were coming not from HNZ tenants, but people who could afford to drive very expensive cars. Who knows aye.


Well first off getting some much needed rest. The smile on all our faces is a sure sign that what we are doing can surely be used as a template for all HNZ tenants that wish to fight back. What has just transpired has indeed lifted the morale of all of us here in Glen Innes. We are not stopping, but will continue to protest, have meetings to gather more support, hold marches and support other grass root actions where the people are standing together, united in their effort to make a change. We are taking it to the streets and letting this National led government know, WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED!

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped support our housing struggle here in Glen Innes.

Nga mihi
Lisa Gibson member of the Tamaki Housing Group.