Can Palestine be liberated while the US illegally occupies Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq? Apparently Melbourne's pro-Palestine movement thinks Palestine can be liberated while Syria has much of its territory illegally occupied and US troops also illegally occupy Iraq and Afghanistan.
I attended both the Freedom Protest and the huge pro-Palestine Protest in Melbourne yesterday on 15 May 2021. At both protests I intended to show my support for each of those two respective causes and to distribute our leaflet on Julian Assange. 
Unfortunately, I did not stay long at the Freedom Protest, because I thought that it would be more promising and and more productive to go to the pro-Palestine protest. My reason was that I supposed the Palestine protest would attract a wide range of related left-wing causes, such as people who support the Syrian and Venezuelan people. I also expected that people there would be very receptive to the leaflet in support of Julian Assange I had to distribute.
Where, at the Freedom protest, nearly everyone I approached with a leaflet was happy to accept it, I was disappointed to discover that at the pro-Palestine protest, whilst most accepted a copy of my leaflet and many even thanked me and expressed support for Julian Assange, a surprising number of people there were quite hostile to my handing out those leaflets.
In hindsight, I now realise that I should have challenged those people to explain to me their apparent hostility to Julian Assange. Many of those who were hostile seemed to me to be members of the supposedly far-left socialist parties, one of which I was associated with, more than 30 years ago. I could have said to any one of those people:
"Don't you realise that because of Wikileaks and Julian Assange it is not nearly as easy as it once was for the United States to continue its support for Israel or to fabricate pretexts to start other wars in the Middle East? Don't you realize that, by giving people the ability to safely leak information from inside the US government and the US military, Wikileaks helps people in countries like Palestine fight there for their freedom?"
Unfortunately, I did not.
How can Free Palestine Melbourne be more effective?
I also felt that the overall approach of the pro-Palestine protest was seriously flawed.
Even more so, the Hamas resistance in the Gaza strip, so villified by Israel and the corporate newsmedia, should be commended for their heroic acts of solidarity with their fellow Palestinians on the West Bank who were being savagely repressed at the al-Aqsa mosque and elsewhere whilst having even more of their homes demolished to make way for yet more illegal Israeli settlements.
Hamas chose, from its tiny vulnerable coastal enclave, to launch missiles northwards into Israel in an effort to make Menachem Begin, the crooked Prime Minister of Israel, reconsider his decision to steal more Palestinian land. For that Hamas and other residents of the Gaza strip have paid a terrible price.
However, such military resistance alone, either in Gaza or in the West Bank, is likely to bring peace and justice to Palestine.
Unless other positive strategies to end the conflict are put forward and adapted by the Palestinian resistance, that conflict can only descend to an even more terrible and fratricidal conflict out of which there can only be two possible outcomes:
- the total destruction of the Palestinian nation within the borders of Palestine; or
- The destruction of Israel, with all Israelis expelled from the land.
Obviously, neither of these two outcomes are acceptable.
A lot of ordinary Jewish Israelis have decent attitudes towards the Palestinians. It's sad that a very high proportion do seem to support Netanyahu, and the terrible crimes being committed against Palestinians - at least according to mainstream news. But I think any strategy to defeat the Israeli government has to recognize that a sizable proportion of Jews in Israel do not approve of driving Palestinians out of their land. These Israelis can be reached, and should be given support to develop a different, non-apartheid, form of government, and to form opposition to the continual predations by pro-Israeli settler property developers in the Gaza strip and their military support.
What about Syria?
At the Palestine protest, I also found it curious that no mention was made at all about Syria and all the other conflicts going on in the Middle East, right next door to Palestine. There's a terrible war going on in Syria, right at this moment, and I felt it striking that not a word was said about that.
Estimates of the number killed so far in Syria since march 2011 vary between 388,652 and 594,000. (See Syrian Revolution 120 months on: 594,000 persons killed and millions of Syrians displaced and injured (14/3/2021) SOHR. 14 March 2021.) Of these, between 131,145 and 180,440 are from the Syrian Arab Army or their allies, who are defending their country. An estimate of the number of mostly foreign terrorists killed so far in Syria varies between 142,684 and 198,684. (See PDF document SOHR 14th Annivesary (1/6/2020) - whilst these figures are contested and difficult to confirm, but they do give some idea of the scale of the loss of life caused by this conflict.)
Every week there have been a number of illegal Israeli air strikes against Syria in support of the continuing terrorist war, of more than ten years duration so far, against the Syrian Government.
Very recently, Syria got so fed up with the Israeli air strikes on its territory, that they actually launched a missile strike themselves against Israel in response.
The failure of any of the speakers, at that pro-Palestine protest, to mention this war, or any other of the recent conflicts in the Middle-East - Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Lebanon - is difficult to understand.
Australian foreign policy is important for Palestinians - We need to hold our government to account
Not only did the Melbourne protest not seem to have any practical help for the Palestinian struggle, or for all the other people in the Middle East, but it did not hold the Australian government to account for effectively siding, since 2011, with terrorist insurgency in Syria, which has been an outspoken supporter of Palestinians for decades.
I can't say at the moment that any protests in which I have recently participated have grown to be really sizable, but I have taken part in small pro-Syria protest movements, and I'm still doing so. As in protest movements in support of Julian Assange, we know that every time we reach anyone, any time someone listens to us, it has an impact on Australian politics, because people then become aware of what our foreign policies actually are, and that what is happening in Palestine and Syria, or to Julian Assange, etc., depends to some extent on what is happening in Australian foreign policy. If no state outside Israel supported Israeli apartheid, or sanctions on Syria, or the imprisonment of Julian Assange, then it is most unlikely that any of these shocking processes would have endured for any length of time. Therefore, it is very important for any Australian protesting about conditions overseas to make links to any enabling policies right here in Australia, to be aware of what their own government is doing, or of how a decent and compassionate Australian government could help prevent the harm being done to people, by actively speaking up against it. It seemed to me that this awareness and consciousness-raising was absent at the pro-Palestine protests yesterday.
When we were protesting a few years ago against US-NATO intervention in Syria, we pointed out the Australian government's shameful role in sanctioning Syria, basically in supporting a siege against the Syrian people. We argued that supporting war against Syria had implications for the attitude that people should have towards the Australian government.
Where was there a similar attempt to raise awareness in the pro-Palestinian protest?
The pro-Palestine protest acknowledged, to some degree, the illegal acquisition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, rather than Tel Aviv. However, there was very little focus on the wrong of the Australian government's support for American policy towards Israel and the rest of the Middle East, in facilitating that change of Israel's capital. I only heard disapproval for Australia's support for these bad policies expressed once in any of the speeches. The failure to more emphatically point out corrupt Australian government policy in the pro-Palestinian protest was a serious shortcoming.
I mean, we should be able to influence foreign policy by appealing to or placing pressure on our local parliamentarians, as well as on the parliaments in elections. However, if people are not made aware of our complicit foreign policies and the need for these to change, it is as if we are giving up on the area where we could be most effective.
It is to be hoped that more protests will be organised, since the conflicts in the Middle East are ongoing, and will not abate without concerned, persistent, and informed, activism.
The 215K PDF file from which the double-sided A5 leaflet can be printed is here embedded in the article Barraitser's 'compassion' towards Julian Assange a ploy to avoid judicial scrutiny of the United States' illegal war on journalism? (12/1/2021) and has been adapted to become the article, Uphold the Rule of Law - demand that the Australian government act to end the illegal imprisonment and torture of Julian Assange (11/2/2021).