Where does one start with the Palestine/Israel saga and why do people like Stan Grant who claims Aboriginal ancestry in Australia not understand the issue of the Palestinians?
Grant has been a news journalist and has been around in the world. He has been known for his misogyny when working at SBS many years ago but it seems he still hasn't learnt how politics around the world works.
Time he and a few others around Australia and elsewhere learnt that racism and nationalism and the truth of the apartheid Israeli regime should be called for what it is and realise that when the Israelis talk about anti-semitism it is they who are spreading it around the world so that they can continue to attack anti-zionists everywhere.
He said: "I have been to Israel and I have seen the sense of Jewish belonging whether you are an Ethiopian Jew or a Russian Jew or an American Jew, with a whole range of ethnicities and everything else around it that coalesce around a sense of belonging and kinship."
Grant astonishingly fails to mention my people, the Palestinian people, who have resided under Israeli occupation or tutelage since (similar to Australia) mainly Europeans established a state on their lands 68 years ago. The use of Israel as an example for a place where "a whole range of ethnicities and everything else around it that coalesce around a sense of belonging and kinship" is flawed and simply unfactual.
In the words of former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Theodor Or, Palestinians in Israel face a structural and systematic discrimination with the Israeli state not doing "enough to grant equality" for its Arab citizens. We haven't even mentioned the 4 million Palestinians living under military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza for 49 years ongoing, or the other 4 million Palestinian refugees who were displaced in 1948.
Palestinians have lived under constant colonisation, dispossession and suffering from an illegal occupation that erodes their human, economic, and existential rights. Some 225,000 children in Gaza today require psychosocial support due to the indiscriminate bombing of Gaza in 2014; over 48,488 Palestinian structures have been demolished; and over 800,000 trees have been uprooted in the West Bank and Gaza. Is this a model Australia wants to replicate?
In an earlier speech Grant delivered at the IQ2 Racism Debate last year he called for Australians to acknowledge the two centuries of "dispossession, injustice and suffering". I find this statement to be strikingly similar to the Palestinians' plight for recognition, equality, justice, and statehood.
Suffice to say I find the irony in yesterday's comments painfully obvious. My 19-year-old sister, a future architecture engineer, was complaining to me yesterday about a 45-minute wait at an Israeli military checkpoint to her university in Ramallah. The military was chocking morning Palestinian traffic to let Israeli settlers reach Jerusalem without delay, with no regards to the native population of the West Bank and their livelihoods. This system, that increasingly resembles an apartheid, has to be internationally condemned and de-structured, not subtly praised.
Palestinians have been under a constant wave of colonisation, eroding their existence from the land they have proudly resided for thousands of years. Just like Grant is rightly proud of his ancestry that might run tens of thousands of years deep, I, too, am proud of my ancestry in Palestine. We both have suffered colonisation, marginalisation, and discrimination – most Palestinians still do – and we all ought to stand for equality and justice for their cause.
Anas Iqtait is a research Scholar at the Australian National University.