Inside the system

Nation state law exposes Israel as a racist state

Israel’s parliament has passed a new law blatantly exposing it as a racially exclusive state. Its new “nation state” law affirms the state’s Jewish character, declaring the right to self-determination “unique to the Jewish people” inside Israel and state support for Jewish settlement. This implicitly denies the same rights to the colonised Palestinian minority that continues to live there. It also affirms Hebrew as the only official language, reducing the status of Arabic—the main language of the Palestinian Arab population—and declares the whole of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

Introduced as a “basic law” it now forms part of Israel’s constitution.

The law confirms what has been true for decades—Israel is a racially discriminatory, apartheid state. Israel was founded on the ethnic cleansing of over 700,000 Palestinians in 1948 in order to establish a state with a Jewish majority. The Palestinian Arab minority still inside Israel face systematic discrimination over access to housing, family reunion and quality of education. The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Adalah, lists 65 Israeli laws that discriminate against Arabs.

The situation in the occupied territories of Gaza and the West Bank is even worse. The killing of Palestinian civilians at protests in Gaza this year has become routine. More than 150 people have been killed so far this year, most shot by Israeli military snipers. Israel has also launched repeated air strikes on Gaza this year, killing four people in two separate barrages in July. And the whole of Gaza remains an open air prison, as Israel’s blockade restricts medicines, building materials and basic goods in an act of collective punishment against the civilian population.

The Downer dynasty’s ‘nation building’

Liberal Georgina Downer’s effort to win back Mayo, her father’s old seat in Adelaide, spectacularly flopped in the Super Saturday by-election. In a bout of entitled rage following the result, Alexander Downer defended the dynasty, saying “our family have been nation builders. We’ve helped make this nation great.”

This “nation building” took place through the murder and genocide of Aboriginal people. Sir John Downer, the first Downer to enter politics, become South Australian Attorney-General in 1881 and then Premier in 1885. Tony Roberts wrote in The Monthly that, “An examination of the injustices and massacres of the frontier period reveals his name more frequently than any other Adelaide politician.”

Downer helped ensure numerous police officers and civilians responsible for the murder of Aboriginal people escaped conviction. In 1881 Police Inspector Foelsche actually wrote to Downer asking for immunity from prosecution to carry out a punitive raid in today’s Northern Territory, promising to teach the local Aboriginal people “a severe lesson”. Downer turned a blind eye to this and countless other massacres.

He ignored official reports detailing the worsening killings. Downer’s government even refused to prosecute those responsible for a series of massacres in 1884, despite their names being published in the press. Downer used his skills as a barrister to ensure the notorious rapist and murderer Constable William Willshire escaped justice. He was the only police officer ever charged over frontier massacres in the Northern Territory. All this helped secure the profits of wealthy Adelaide landowners and pastoralists, who were driving Aboriginal people off huge areas of land.

As Foreign Minister his grandson, Alexander Downer, did his best to continue the colonial tradition by negotiating the scandalous Timor Gap treaty, robbing the newly independent East Timor of oil revenue. After resigning from parliament he was handed a lucrative role with Woodside, the oil company seeking to profit off the gas.

Inequality in Australia still increasing

Wealth inequality in Australia is growing, a new report from ACOSS and the Social Policy Research Centre at UNSW shows. The top 20 per cent of Australians now own almost two-thirds of all wealth, 62 per cent in total, while the bottom 50 per cent hold just 18 per cent.

The average wealth of the top 20 per cent rose by 53 per cent from 2003 to 2016, while the bottom 20 per cent saw a decline of 9 per cent.

In terms of income, inequality is also stark. The top 20 per cent hold five times as much disposable as the bottom 20 per cent, and the top 1 per cent 16 times as much—$3978 per week on average and $11,682 per week in 2016, compared with $735 per week. Income inequality reached a peak during the global economic crisis in 2007-08, after steady growth since the early 1980s.

CEO pay highest in 17 years

Pay for CEOs is at its highest level in 17 years, up 12.4 per cent last year alone for those at the top 100 listed companies. That’s the finding of the CEO pay report released by the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors in July. The pay surge was driven by “persistent and increasing bonus payments”, it said.

Domino’s Pizza CEO Don Meji saw his pay soar an eye-watering $15.8 million to $36.8 million. Ramsay Health’s Chris Rex pocketed an extra $4 million for a total of $22.3 million. Most workers haven’t had a pay rise after inflation since 2009.

High end brands destroy millions worth of clothing

Luxury clothing brand Burberry burned $37.8 million worth of its products last year rather than have them sold at discounted prices.

The company, which sells trench coats for $1800 and polo shirts priced at $250, revealed the strategy in its annual report.

A number of designer brands destroy their unsold stock in an effort to ensure their products remain “exclusive” and are not sold to the “wrong people” at discount prices, according to the London Times.

NATO plans borderless Europe for tanks

European countries want to slash controls on troop and tank movements in an effort to face down Russia. At the moment countries need to give up to 40 days’ notice in order to conduct exercises in other NATO countries.

The plan, on the agenda at the recent NATO summit, would cut this to five. The Dutch Defence Minister said the change was needed to avoid presenting an image of European division. “Especially when you look at Russia, they would love that,” she said.


Solidarity meetings

Latest articles

Read more

Melbourne uni occupation ends with a win, but beware Admin’s dirty...

A month after their encampment began and eight days after they occupied, students at Melbourne Uni have scored an initial win in the fight to cut the uni’s ties with Israel.

Albanese aids Israel and smears protests as horror unfolds in Rafah

Israel has begun its long-threatened assault on Rafah. Hundreds have already been killed,  thousands more will likely die as Israel’s savagery continues.

Encampments show spread of solidarity with Gaza

The spread of student encampments for Palestine around the world has been an inspiration for all those fighting to end Israel’s genocidal slaughter in Gaza.