I drove over to Haldon St, Lakemba to buy some hijabs and check out the street food. When I arrived, I saw a black 4WD-truck with its flashing high beams and heard chanting on a loud speaker. I immediately put my foot on the break and started driving a little slower, I was being blinded by the lights and was worried I’d hit a pedestrian or the car infront of me. I couldn’t see or hear clearly what was happening. I took a right turn and parked my car, not sure what the commotion was about.
Five men holding up signs and large flags billowing in the wind, were walking on the busy road, with the car behind them. This stopped traffic and people looked on what was going on. They said they were from Hizb-ut-Tahrir and were having a protest for the people of Gaza. I was disappointed at how they tried to ‘build the hype’ for the protest on the road. It was dangerous, ill-planned and not executed strategically to ensure safety to drivers and pedestrians. I decided to stick around, as they were making announcements that there would be speeches. The speeches were moving and well spoken. After the protest, a large group had gathered and began walking up and down the active part of Haldon St. As I made my way to leave, during the commotion, I heard a chant “Israel, if you kill one, a thousand more will surely come”* (see Note below).
I wonder how many to see the difference between Israel and Judaism, between Jewish People and Israelis, between Israelis who are protesting in Israel and the Military, between the young people who are fighting and being jailed for refusing to join the Israeli Military. Because just as complex as the Israel-Palestine conflict is, it’s not that simple to just assume that only Palestinians and Muslims are protesting the occupation and military strikes. There are a coalition of Israeli NGOs who are writing open letters to the government, protesting Israel’s attacks upon and occupation of Palestine. There are also young Israeli teenagers who were jailed for being conscientious objectors declaring their refusal to serve in the Israeli Military.
Judaism is a 4000+ years old spirituality to serve God. Zionism is only 100 years old and is the transformation from religion to nationalism created by using the name ‘Israel’ and the Star of David hijacking the identity of the Judaism in order to get a legitimacy for their existence and put fear and intimidate those who spoke against them by calling them an anti-Semite. It’s a political and selfish movement that has no legitimacy to exist. To steal land, to kill, to oppress, to banish them from their homes, contradicts everything that Judaism teaches. Israel uses the Jewish identity to create a rift between Jews and Muslims. This is critical to understand about the absurd purpose Israel is fighting for.
I saw a video posted of Australian independent journalist, author and Guardian columnist, Antony Lowenstein speech at the Palestine Rally in Sydney on 27 July and he said “What is so important, is discussion with Palestine, is that this is not an issue against Judaism, … it is an issue about occupation, discrimination, racism and war…There are a number of Israeli Jews themselves who say who are protesting now and being attacked by far right neo-Nazi Jews. I use that expression correctly. Neo-Nazi Jews. This is what Israel is creating at the moment…Israel does not speak in many Jews name.”
It is so important to not play the blame game, and misdirect your anger and abuse towards people who don’t deserve it. After all, isn’t that what we’re all protesting for?
*Note: In an earlier version of this post, I quoted the chant that could have been misheard by me. This has kindly been pointed out and I have made the correction in this revised version of the post.