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Monday, March 17, 2008

Will Australia remain silent while Gaza dies? by Enas Sammak

The following speech was delivered by Enas Sammak to a March 12 Melbourne protest in solidarity with Palestine, held to coincide with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s motion in parliament that celebrated the 60th anniversary of Israel’s establishment.

We are gathered here today, able to exercise our freedom and rights, to protest for those whose freedom and rights have been infringed, whose voices are either muted or ignored. I am a daughter of Gaza, a daughter of Palestine, a daughter of a displaced man, a man who is still awaiting the day he returns … he has taken Australia as his homeland, a country where our voices can make a change, where our opinions can influence policy, where we have the ability to represent those who lack the power to do it for themselves.

We complain about Work Choices, yet thousands of them have no work; we complain about electricity bills, yet they have no electricity; we complain about the price of oil, yet they have no oil; we talk about water saving, yet they have no clean water to drink; we complain about interest rates; while their houses are being demolished. So where do we stand? When their children are dying, when their women are widowed, and their men tortured, where does Australia stand?

When they have sanctions imposed because they exercised their democratic rights, because they believed in universal suffrage, where does our government stand? There is one thing that when I see pictures of on TV, it fills my heart with agony and my eyes with tears. It is the sight of mothers and fathers … carrying the bodies of their dead children wrapped in a green cloth.

Their innocent faces and tiny bodies stained with their own blood. Their bodies are skinny as food was scarce during their very short stay in life. My tears run until there are no more tears to shed. Innocent civilians are being killed every day, but Israel claims that they’re accidents, that it is targeting armed militants. For how much longer are we going to believe this?

Where is the United Nations Security Council? Where is the International Court of Justice? Where are the world leaders? Why is the international community silent? When I was seven years old, I went out to protest in the heart of Auckland in New Zealand. I protested against the murder an innocent child, Muhammad Aldurra. He was killed while he was in the arms of his father. His death was witnessed live on TV by hundreds of thousands around the world.

I protested against the Israeli attacks hoping that something would happen, that action would be taken, and that my protest would make a difference. I didn’t know why Muhammad was killed. “What has he done?”, I asked my father. Now, nine years later, I stand before you, once again protesting against the killings of innocents in Gaza, hoping that action will be taken.

Today I still cannot understand why they are being killed. At least 18 Palestinians, including five boys under the age of 16 and a six-month-old baby, were killed in the Gaza Strip on February 28. Why? Another 12-year-old boy died of wounds sustained in a Gaza raid a day earlier, and a shepherd was killed in northern Gaza. Why? On March 1, an Israeli military plane dropped three bombs on the house of Abd al Rahman Atallah, a 62-year-old man.

The aerial bombardment completely destroyed his house; four of the injured were children, one of them a two-day-old infant. Why? Why is it so hard for the United Nations Security Council to condemn the actions of Israel? Why? The fathers and mothers cry and scream to the world — “please help us, please save us … Please protect us …” But the world is silent, the world is deaf. The world has decided that it is acceptable for Palestinian children to die.

The world has decided that my brothers and sisters in Gaza are fair game for the wrath of one of the most powerful and most evil military machines on earth. The world has stood together to starve the children of Gaza and ensure the siege is watertight. Therefore, I stand here today and plead with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to intervene to protect the children of Gaza, for Rudd to take a courageous stand, a stand for justice, like when he said sorry to the Stolen Generations.

Mr Rudd, please, do not celebrate the day of declaration of the Israeli state, a state that has not only caused stolen generations, but also displaced, murdered generations.

From: Comment & Analysis, Green Left Weekly issue #744 19 March 2008.

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