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Australia’s warped view of violence excludes Israel’s genocide

May 9, 2024 at 2:16 pm

Australian and Israeli flags. [Stock photo via Getty Images]

Australia, a country with a colonial legacy that still needs to be reckoned with, is the latest to find fault with the decolonial Palestinian slogan, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”. The reasons given by Australian government officials for their opposition to the slogan are ridiculous, but that is the way of pro-Zionist narratives intended to distort logic into ambiguity and normalise a new way of assimilation.

Clips released from a forthcoming Sky News programme on anti-Semitism revealed the Zionist distortion of the Palestinian slogan. Interviewed by Josh Frydenberg, the former Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) director Dennis Richardson said, “It is a very violent statement. There are sections of the Australian community who do see people of the Jewish faith, wherever they are around the world, as part of Israel. Therefore, statements of violence against Israel can very easily flow over into actions of violence against communities in our own country.” And Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese agreed. In a separate interview, opposition leader Peter Dutton likened the Palestinian slogan to “what Hitler chanted in the 1930s.” Ridiculous.

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“If they’re trying to make some sort of headroom for another interpretation that would be against what we know in the western world for that dreadful chant to be… are they doing it for political reasons?” Dutton asked. “Are they willing to sacrifice the safety of the Jewish community and to try and encourage some of these lunatics that we’re seeing at university campuses at the moment?” Lunatics?

Derogatory language is permissible, it seems, in Australian political rhetoric.

What Australian leaders are saying is that the Palestinian decolonial narrative shouldn’t exist. Instead, the Australian public should be fed intentional misinformation by its leaders who have suddenly decided that a Palestinian decolonial slogan can harm Jewish communities in Australia, because many Australians, according to Richardson, cannot distinguish between Jewish people and Zionists. Which still makes no sense, because why would Australians who cannot distinguish between Jews and Zionists harm the former? People who know that the slogan calls for decolonisation are merely supporting the Palestinian people’s right to liberation, something that colonial Australia prefers to steer away from, because it hits the spot back home with the colonial atrocities committed against the Aboriginal people.

As the world awaits the ICJ's verdict, Israel's genocide continues - [Cartoon / Mohammad Sabaaneh]

As the world awaits the ICJ’s verdict, Israel’s genocide continues – [Cartoon / Mohammad Sabaaneh]

Dutton, on the other hand, made the case for Western understanding to prevail over the Palestinian narrative, when he stated, “Another interpretation that would be against what we know in the Western world for that dreadful chant to be.” I have added the emphasis to show his obvious belief in the primacy of Western narratives. “From the river to the sea…” is the Palestinian narrative and the West’s purported understanding of the slogan – as dictated by Israel, of course – does not change what it stands for. Palestinians have a legitimate right to anti-colonial resistance to the settler-colonial occupation of their land.

Given that colonialism paved the way to genocide, can Australian leaders explain exactly what the Western understanding of violence has become? Has a slogan, with no military power behind it whatsoever, suddenly become more dangerous than genocide? “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” is a simple, straightforward slogan. It is not a genocidal statement, it does not call for the annihilation of the Jewish people; it calls for the decolonisation of the land. Zionist and Western interpretations have no right to slander a slogan that speaks of nothing but the truth.

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