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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Empathy for Palestine - If your country was illegally occupied by another nation, what would you do?

Many Australians, including the Government, politicians and churches support the state of Israel. This support has been declared even while Israel continues the decades-long genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestine. This support given and justifications made for the massacres of thousands of innocent men, women and children by Israel.

So, Australia, how would you react if the same thing happened here? Suppose for a moment that Israel, or maybe one of our Asian neighbours, decided that Australia was their ancestral homeland of 2,500 years ago. Suppose the United Nations agreed and allowed 55% of Australia to be taken over by Israel or Indonesia or Eastasia (looking at you, Orwell) or whatever country had set their sights on Australia.

Suppose the United Nations resolution provided only one option to Australia: agree with 55% being settled by another nation. As we know, the Arabs told the UN to shove it when given this choice. I'm pretty certain Australia would do the same thing. But there was no choice for Palestinians. In 1947 the United Nations recommended, through Resolution 181 (1), that 55% of Palestinian land be given away to Europeans who had decided their ancestral homeland was in the Middle East. On 14 May 1948,the Jewish Agency headed by David Ben-Gurion illegally proclaimed the establishment of Israel even though neither he or the United Nations had the authority to do so (2). President Truman acknowledged it that day. The new neighbours moved in and violently forced Palestinians out. Not surprisingly, Palestinians supported by other Arab nations, fought to defend themselves. They lost. More than 700,000 Palestinians were displaced, thousands were massacred. While Israel argues the Arabs attacked them in 1948, it was the illegal creation and attack on Palestine by the newly formed Israel military that saw Arab armies come together in defence of Palestinian land (3).

In 1967, Egypt and other Arab nations tried to drive Israel out of Palestine. The war lasted Six Days. The vast military might of Israel prevailed (backed by the bottomless pit of United States military spending) and resulted in Israel expanding its occupation of Palestine to 78%.

Since then, Israel has continued illegally expanding its settlements into the West Bank, where it now occupies around 93% of Palestine.

The following graph overlays this scenario on the map of Australia. Note, that Gaza is represented by the Australian Capital Territory. Gaza is a 360km2 block of land with 1.8 million people. By contrast, the Australian Capital Territory is 2,280km2 and has a population of 373,000.

Following our hypothetical partitioning of Australia in 1948, the foreign nation (let's call it Eastasia for arguments sake) forcefully settles the land, driving the population out of the populous areas of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane into either the ACT or the West Bank, in this case Western Australia. Eastasia builds a wall around the ACT, which now holds 11.4 million Australians in a population density that mirrors Gaza: 5,000 people per square kilometre.

Following the 1967 war, Eastasia has conquered the Northern Territory and much of Western Australia. By 2014, what is left of WA is now a series of illegal settlements which Eastasia has given away to foreigners who have been paid to move in and continue the ethnic cleansing of Australia. The Australians, some 10 million of them, are now foreigners in their own land. Israel has built 'security barriers' throughout northern WA. Thousands of kilometres of illegal walls which force Australians to wait for hours, sometimes days in order to travel to schools, hospitals, jobs, farms. Movement within and between areas is controlled by Israel using a series of checkpoints. Sometimes they open the check points. Sometimes they don't.

What would you do? Would you accept this? Would you fight back? Who is the terrorist? Who is the criminal? If you fight back, you're labelled a terrorist, yet you can't access your job or your crops to feed your family, your children can't access school easily, your family can't get to the hospital with any certainty. Every step of the way is controlled. An angry Aussie fights back and Israel bombards the ACT as collective punishment, because obviously all Australians are responsible for the actions of the individual.

Your child throws a rock at a settler who has stolen your land. The settler shoots your child dead and is never charged. Do you accept this?

Australia gives its unquestioning support to Israel even while Israel attacks schools, hospitals, mosques, ambulances and houses. Israel argues that Hamas or other Palestinian militants hide weapons in these locations, yet Israel has never produced evidence of this. Even if it were the case, the attack on civilians is considered collective punishment. It is a war crime.

Israel claims that Hamas uses children as human shields, yet it is Israel that has done this very thing (4) (5). Israel claims that it launched July 2014's Operation Brother's Keeper and Operation Protective Edge in response to the murder of three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped in the West Bank. Israel claims they were murdered by Hamas. Yet no-one was arrested for the murders. Even before the teenagers' bodies were found, Israel launched attacks on Gaza. Two weeks later, Hamas started firing rockets in retaliation for the ongoing bombardments. While the murder of the teenagers is tragic, Israeli settlers have been murdering Palestinian children for years with impunity, often simply because of rocks being thrown.

The UN has issued resolutions condemning Israel's illegal arrest, detention and torture of men, women and children in its prisons (6). It has issued resolutions condemning the 'security barrier', an illegal wall that prevents Palestinians from accessing jobs, hospitals, schools, crops (7). The expansion of settlements into the West Bank is illegal under international law. (8).

Israel is illegally using chemical weapons in Gaza, including DIME (Dense Inert Metal Explosive), white phosphorous and flechette shells (9).

Israel illegally occupies Palestine. As such it cannot claim self-defence. It is the occupier. It is the aggressor.

It is time for nations such as Australia and the United States to stop supporting Israel's illegal activities and ethnic cleansing of Palestine. It is time for the International Court of Justice to hold Israeli politicians and military accountable for war crimes.

If your country was illegally occupied by another nation, what would you do?


1. Resolution 181 (II). Future government of Palestine, United Nations General Assembly, A/RES/181(II)of 29 November 1947, Accessed 28 July 2014.

2. 'Milestones: 1945 - 1952, Creation of Israel 1948', US Department of State, Office of the Historian, Accessed 28 July 2014.

3. 'Top 10 myths about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict', Jeremy R. Hammond, Foreign Policy Journal. Accessed 28 July 2014.

4. 'Survivors of massacre in Khuza'a say Israeli forces using Palestinians as human shields', Yousef Alhelou, Mondoweiss, 26 July 2014, Accessed 28 July 2014

5. 'Israeli soldiers who used Palestinian boy, 9, as a human shield avoid jail', Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian, 22 November 2010, Accessed 28 July 2014.

6. 'Human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem', United Nations General Assembly, A/HRC/22/28 of 16 April 2013, Resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council, 22/28. , Accessed 28 July 2014

7. 'Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem', United Nations General Assembly, A/RES/68/83 of 16 December 2013, Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 11 December 2013, Accessed 28 July 2014.

8. 'Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan', United Nations General Assembly, A/RES/68/82 of 16 December 2013, Resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 11 December 2013, Accessed 28 July 2014.

9. 'Israeli weapons add to the brutality of Gaza attack', Jessica Purkiss, 24 July 2014, Accessed 28 July 2014.

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