Nir Rosen, Silvan Shalom rally

Nir Rosen – one of the best English language reporters on Afghanistan – on DN.

Also, I went to a rally against Silvan Shalom (who’s lunching with Rudd today) at Martin Place.

In a way, I find aspects of these rallies depressing and alienating. Firstly, I really can’t stand Nazi and Holocaust comparisons. There was a flag or placard or whatever with an Israel flag, but the blue thing was a swastika. One speaker went on about genocide, that there was a “continuum of holocaust” – that the Holocaust against the Jews was basically the same as the “holocaust” the Palestinians have suffered. And of course, Nazi comparisons.

And one of the popular chants was “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”. I’m not sure precisely which group insists on this. I think the Palestine groups in Australia overwhelmingly are more committed to radical posturing (and in my view, not even leftist posturing), rather than trying to appeal to broader circles outside of the Leninist Trotskyist groups and Arab/Muslim groups. A sheikh of some sort spoke. Funnily enough, he was comparatively moderate (he condemned the terrorism of Muslims, Jews and Christians). I asked to speak, and did so. I spoke about Shalom’s record as the right of Likud, as opposing a division of Jerusalem, opposing (even rhetorically) a two state agreement, and being a fanatical supporter of settling the West Bank. I spoke about the blockade, the attack on Gaza, and called for support of the protesters at the end of the year.

Afterwards, I saw someone – I forgot where I knew him from, but actually, I think he’s a friend of my cousin. He didn’t go to the same school as me. He’s grown since I remember him. He was a bit conspicuous, with folded arms, kippah and AUJS shirt. I imagine AUJS wanted him to monitor the event. I asked if he’d listened to my speech. He said he heard bits of it. Strikingly, he was like “but what about Hamas’s war crimes?” I told him that I’d specifically condemned the “horrific crimes” Hamas committed in the past (suicide bombings). I then proceeded to discuss Israel, and he’s like “but you don’t convict Hamas of war crimes.” “Didn’t you listen to what I just said? I condemned them in my speech, and I just told you that I oppose Hamas’ crimes”. He then explained that was nonsense, because if I support Palestine, I support Hamas.

No, I said, I’m not a nationalist, and I don’t support the Israeli nor the Palestinian governments. He explained: being pro-Palestine is being pro-Hamas. Fine, I’m not pro-Palestine. I support human rights for Palestinians, and I also support the human rights of Israelis.

For me, this was a pretty remarkable exchange.

Also, in my speech, I very briefly criticised the Nazi comparisons. I said I don’t like these comparisons, that Israel’s crimes are bad enough, but they’re not Nazis.

I didn’t identify myself as Jewish, but Vivienne Porszolt of Jews against the occupation spoke, along with someone identified as an anti-Zionist Jew from Socialist Alternative. I was not very impressed by the latter, nor the bizarrre cult from which she hails. But then, as is common for me, I spent much of the rally arguing  with a Trotskyist about Lenin.

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