New Zealand has a long, proud record of standing on the right side of history. Sending the navy to protest nuclear testing in the pacific, being the first country to give women the vote, taking a stand against nuclear energy, and helping end South African apartheid. There is a deep moral fibre of what's right and wrong that runs through New Zealand society, which in the past has been reflected by the government of the day. That day is not today.
In Gaza, a vicious assault is occurring on the Palestinian people. Blood is running in the streets, neighbourhoods are being destroyed, children targeted, and family's ripped apart. The aggressors, the IDF on behalf of the Israeli Zionist state have been indiscriminately bombing Gaza and it's civilian population for years, and this is only the most recent occurrence. Israel has systematically been encroaching on Palestinian land for years, and what is left of Palestinian territory is only a fraction of what was once Palestine. From the birth of the Israeli state, Gaza has been occupied or under restrictions since 1948.
Years of propaganda on behalf of Israel has left many in the international community brainwashed by their lies. Cries of anti-Semitism ring out whenever criticism is levelled at Israel. Calls to protect and defend the children of the holocaust and their right to a homeland have in the past trumped the rights of Palestinians to live free from Zionist aggression. But Israeli lies are now becoming so blatant and so outrageous, that Israel is now being seen for what it is; a racist, apartheid state.
We have fought apartheid before, it was on a different continent, with a different group of people, but the rhetoric is the same; The oppression of one group of people by another in order to maintain a racist ideology. New Zealand took a stand then, with huge swathes of kiwis taking to the streets against the springboks led by HART (Halt All Racist Tours). This was a defining moment in the fight against apartheid in South Africa. We helped beat back apartheid then, we can beat apartheid in Palestine.
The stakes have been raised, Israel has played it's hand, sending ground troops into heavily built up civilian areas. The systematic targeting of children, hospitals, and schools has shown the inhuman face of the Israeli 'cause'. For years the threat of a ground invasion was used as a deterrent, a way of forcing the Palestinians into submission. But a deterrent is only as good as the threat that it poses, now that they have played their hand and are sustaining heavy Israeli casualties, the once powerful facade of Israeli military might is crumbling. The most expensive high tech military hardware is being used on women and children, but the Palestinians are fighting back, fighting for their homes, for their neighbourhoods, and for their families. It is no longer an option to call for a ceasefire, Israel has shown in the past it wont respect that. The siege of Gaza needs to end.
Our government has taken a stance calling for both sides of the conflict to show restraint. But when you have on one side, the most sophisticated weaponry and highly trained military personal, on the other, home made rockets, stones and desperate civilians, this call rings hollow. When you remain neutral in situations of aggression, you side with the oppressor. Our New Zealand government, in taking this stance has sided with Israel, sitting on the wrong side of history. We can look back at our fight against South African apartheid with pride, knowing we were on the right side of history then. In 20 years time, will we be able to do the same in this current conflict?
We have an opportunity to put pressure on our political parties to show their true colours. Do you side with the Zionist aggressors? Or do you side with the Palestinian oppressed? We need to be making this call felt and make it an election issue heading into September 20th. Will they show leadership on this issue, or wait, hoping it will eventually blow over? The Palestinian people do not simply want a ceasefire, they want an end to the siege of Gaza. We have a responsibility to put pressure on our political leaders, our unions, our churches, to side with an oppressed people fighting for their right to survive.
Mana has taken the lead in calling for the closure of the Israeli embassy, but we need the rest of the political establishment to follow their lead. The argument was won within Mana on supporting Palestine over Israel, this needs to happen in all our political institutions. As socialists, we are active in political parties, unions, advocacy groups, and social movements. We need to agitate for these establishments to stand with Palestine. Just like South Africa, we need to isolate the Israeli regime, through boycotts, divestments, and sanctions. The battle needs to be fought on many fronts, but this battle needs to win. We need to make sure we come out of this standing on the right side of history.
See you in the streets.