There is blood on Anthony Albanese’s hands over Israel’s murderous assault on Gaza.
Israel is deliberately targeting the whole civilian population. Two-thirds of more than 15,000 dead are women and children.
Over weeks of horrifying attacks on hospitals, ambulances, schools and refugee camps, tens of thousands have taken to the streets every week to support Palestine.
Anthony Albanese has helped give Israel impunity to carry out its war crimes through blaming Hamas and declaring his support for Israel.
But the Labor government is starting to feel the pressure, shifting its language slightly.
Albanese has admitted there have been “too many civilian deaths in Gaza”. Foreign Minister Penny Wong meekly suggested there should be “steps towards a ceasefire” and said she had some “concern” about Israel firing on hospitals, but still wanted to blame Hamas for Israel’s war crimes.
But the government still refuses to call on Israel for a permanent ceasefire, let alone condemn Israel’s apartheid policies and siege on Gaza.
More Labor backbenchers have begun to speak out. Federal Labor MP Maria Vamvakinou called out the “humanitarian disaster that is unfolding in Gaza” and alongside Labor MP Fatima Payman and The Greens backed the call for an immediate ceasefire.
Albanese, however, is making it clear that he does the bidding of the rich and powerful. Despite his previous support for the Palestinian cause he now sides with Israel and the US.
Labor is also backing the US alliance locally, spending $368 billion on nuclear submarines and billions more on missiles, ships and fighter jets.
Albanese capitulated to racism after the High Court ruled indefinite detention of refugees illegal. He agreed to every rotten request from Liberal leader Peter Dutton in an effort to keep inflicting misery on those released and look for ways to put them back in prison.
He is letting mining companies open more coal and gas projects in the face of the climate emergency so they can keep making billion-dollar profits.
And he simply sits on his hands as the cost of living goes through the roof.
Reserve Bank Governor Michelle Bullock now says she may have to keep raising interest rates because people are still spending too much. This, she says, is stopping inflation falling fast enough.
So the Reserve Bank keeps making life hard for renters and anyone with a home loan.
But it is not everyone who is out spending. The rich still have savings on hand after the COVID crisis and can afford to keep spending. But most workers used up any savings they had long ago.
The government could tax the rich to help take pressure off inflation—but instead Albanese just lets the Reserve Bank increase mortgage pain. And he is still supporting the handouts for the rich through the Stage Three tax cuts.
The outpouring of support for Palestine has been a major source of hope. We need to keep building the protests and demand an end to all ties with Israel.
In the past six years, the Australian government has approved 350 individual “defence” export items to Israel, including 52 this year alone.
The Albanese government refuses to reveal details of any of these military sales. Greens Senator David Shoebridge says Australia has “one of the most secretive and unaccountable weapons export systems in the world”.
The links with Israel go back a long way. As NSW Premier Chris Minns bemoaned in relation to the protest at Sydney’s Port Botany against an Israeli shipping company, ZIM, Israel is “a long-standing trading partner and an ally of Australia”.
Organising in the unions can help spread the support for Palestine and take the argument into workplaces. The workplace photos and other actions by teachers, university staff, construction workers and other unionists have been a big success.
Greater support in the unions will also add to the pressure on Labor. There is growing disgust at Labor from within the Arab and Muslim communities in particular, many of them long-term Labor supporters.
More than 5500 Labor voters have signed a petition to NSW Premier Chris Minns in Sydney over his strident support for Israel. Many are considering supporting The Greens or independent candidates in future.
But deepening the protest movement is the best way to build the pressure on Albanese. The protests against Zim shipping made a serious impact in disrupting the company and targeting links with Israel. In Sydney police violently arrested 23 protesters at Port Botany.
We need to defend our right to protest and come back in even bigger numbers. And we need to work towards the kind of union bans that would mean even greater disruption.
Hundreds of thousands of people are watching Israel’s murderous rampage with horror. There is an opening to turn that into a powerful movement, and build the power from below can take on the whole system.