Thursday, May 17, 2012

Nakba Day Backlash 1

"The Palestinian future will be shaped by the people of Palestine. And it is up to us in the outside world, whether Palestinian or not, to join in their struggle to achieve justice from below, sufficiently shaking the foundations of oppressive structures of occupation and the exclusions of exile to create tremors of doubt in the Israeli colonial mindset. And as doubts grow, new possibilities suddenly emerge. For this reason, the Nakba should become important for all persons of good will, whether Palestinian or not, whether in Israel or outside, as an occasion for displays of solidarity... Certainly the Nakba is a time of remembrance for the historic tragedy of expulsion, but it is equally a time of reflection on what might be done to stop the bleeding and to acknowledge and celebrate those who are brave enough to say 'this far, and no further'." (Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Human Rights, Observing the Nakba,, 14/5/12)

2GB's Ray Hadley is talkback radio's version of Murdoch tabloid, The Daily Telegraph. Here he is, holding forth yesterday on Justice Adamson's judgement:

"About 200 protesters marched through the streets to mark a day called Al-Nakba, the declaration of the state of Israel in 1948. Justice Adamson, appointed to the Supreme Court by the Liberal Attorney-General Greg Smith last year, allowed it to go ahead."

Sorry, but Nakba Day is most emphatically not a commemoration of the declaration of the state of Israel. Nor was it Justice Adamson's job to decide whether it could "go ahead" or not.

To discuss the matter, Hadley spoke to acting premier and leader of the NSW Nationals Andrew Stoner, asking him if he was "offended" by Justice Adamson "comparing Nakba Day to Anzac or Australia Day." Here's Stoner's spectacularly ignorant and utterly irrelevant response:

"I am. My Dad fought in World War II, my grandfather World War I . Anzac Day has a very special meaning for me. It's uniquely Australian. I'm sure most Australians have never heard of Al-Nakba Day [True. Hence, in part, the commemoration.], so to compare it to hallowed days in our cultural life like Christmas Day, Easter or Australia Day I think just shows that this judge is completely out of touch with the broader community... Judges are a bit of a law unto themselves when it comes to enforcement of community standards sadly [So much for the independence of the judiciary.], and it's commentators like you and the public that's the only way we can get our message across in a plea for common sense from the judiciary... This judgement is wrong. Anzac Day is a public holiday. Christmas Day is a public holiday, as is Easter, so this protest planned for the worst possible time - in fact, the judge herself acknowledged that '[i]f one's purpose were to disrupt commuter traffic, one could hardly choose a better time or place'. [Except that she went on to say, 'But this is not the defendant's purpose. His purpose is to conduct a public assembly to commemorate Nakba Day. The date is the product of history. I infer that the time and place were chosen to allow the maximum number of protesters to participate. I infer that the route was selected because of its proximity to the starting point of the assembly. Town Hall is one of the few places available in Central Sydney for public assembly and is, accordingly, a natural choice'.] I just think it's wrong, completely out of touch."

And then this:

"If they want to protest over in Palestine, OK. But here if they want to get some sympathy for their cause, the worst way to go about that is to stuff up our traffic, make life [inaudible] for our commuters, and this judge simply didn't take this into account."

Do it in Palestine?

For one thing there is no Palestine. That's the problem. For another around 20 Palestinian Nakba protesters were shot dead by Israeli forces last year.* And in 2009, a bill almost passed the Israeli knesset criminalising its recognition. Last year, a law was passed allowing Israel's finance minister to defund any state-supported bodies that commemorate the Nakba. And this year, in Israel, an Israeli citizen was jailed overnight for nothing more than reading aloud the names of destroyed Palestinian villages from a history book.

[*See my 17/5/11 post Palestinians Dying to Celebrate Israel's 63rd Birthday.]

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