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.

Even after Hamas agreed to ceasefire terms, Israel rejected any truce and began the attack.

But the movement for Palestine is still growing, with encampments in solidarity with Gaza spreading to more than 100 US universities, as well as campuses across Australia and worldwide.

Having herded 1.4 million Palestinians into Rafah, Israel is now intensifying its bombing and sending in troops.

Hundreds of thousands are fleeing. But after months of deliberate starvation, “There are children and elderly that are so starved that they can barely walk. These people cannot just relocate to another area … It is not possible,” Alexandra Saieh, head of humanitarian policy at Save the Children said.

Northern Gaza is already experiencing “full blown famine”, the head of the UN World Food Program has declared. And Israel has now seized the major Rafah crossing, closing it completely to any further aid.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong voiced “objections”, noting the impact on civilians “would be devastating”.

The Australian government also supported a UN General Assembly resolution on Palestinian statehood, but made sure to point out it wasn’t actually recognising a Palestinian state.

Yet the government refuses to ban the arms trade with Israel or impose economic sanctions.

It won’t even call for a genuine ceasefire, still backing just a short “humanitarian ceasefire” allowing Israel to continue the killing.

Joe Biden has withheld a transfer of some types of bombs to Israel. But this is just an empty gesture. Days later he announced plans to send another $1 billion in weapons.

The US’s enthusiastic shipments of arms to Israel has facilitated the genocide in Gaza and means Israel, “Has armaments for the missions it plans, and we also have what we need for the missions in Rafah,” according to Daniel Hagari, a spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces.

“For war tomorrow in Gaza or war tomorrow in Lebanon, [any US restriction on arms] will not make any difference,” Hagari added.

In typical sickening hypocrisy, a US state department report says it is “reasonable to assess” that weapons provided to Israel have been used in ways that are “inconsistent” with international human rights law, but that there is not enough concrete evidence to warrant cutting the supply of arms.

Attacking protests

The pressure on Labor is growing—with Labor Senator Fatima Payman breaking ranks, to “call this out for what it is. This is a genocide”.

Albanese told a private meeting at a synagogue in Bondi Junction he was being hounded by supporters of Palestine who were “making his life miserable”. Good.

But Albanese has sided with the Council of Australian Jewry and the right-wing media declaring that chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” is “very violent” and unacceptable.

In reality it’s a call for a single, secular, democratic state across historic Palestine, where Jews and Arabs would have equal rights—instead of systematic occupation, apartheid and ethnic supremacy.

The efforts to smear the student camps as antisemitic and somehow a threat to the safety of Jewish students is just a disgraceful, transparent attempt by governments, uni bosses and Israel supporters to stifle a movement that challenges Western imperialism.

On 13 May Deakin became the first university in Australia to call for the “immediate dismantling and removal of the current encampment”. But that’s not likely to happen without a fight.

The movement to free Palestine is still spreading. Sydney University NTEU branch has carried an historic motion to commit the branch to an institutional boycott of Israeli universities, a move that will surely spread nationally.

Although still weak in many respects, the ACTU peak union body has issued a statement calling for an end to all military trade with Israel. The union movement is now on record opposing companies in Australia doing work on the F-35 fighter jets being used in Gaza.

But to turn that call into action that will actually ban work and cut ties is going to require more organisation in more universities and workplaces. University encampments need to become bases to challenge business as usual in the ivory towers.

Union bans can stop trade with Israel—but to do that they will have to challenge anti-strike and secondary boycott laws.

The rallies at the ports in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne on 25 May can be a step towards that wider action. But we need more socialists in every university and workplace to help build the movement that can challenge Australia’s and the West’s support for Israel and to free Palestine.

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