On Monday 14 May 2018, Mr Peter Russo, Member for Toohey, hosted an evening event on behalf of Queensland Parliamentarians and guests at Parliament House in Brisbane. This was to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the time referred to by Palestinians as “Al Nakba” or “The Catastrophe.”
The well-known Guest Speaker was the Mr Bob Carr, former Australian Foreign Minister and Premier of New South Wales. As anticipated his speech was significant, outlining the 70 traumatic years of Palestinian subjugation and oppression.
Interestingly his quotations, regarding the actual ethnic cleansing which took place after World War 11 with the influx of European Jews, and during the 1947 Partition, were from Israeli historical sources.
He stressed the importance of restoration of Palestinian rights, and the Two-State solution as being the only hope of peace for both sides, Israeli and Palestinian.
Queensland Senator Claire Moore, spoke of her visit and experiences in modern Israel and Palestine. A talented Speaker, she carried the audience with her on her journey, relaying the situation as she perceived it.
She noted the very obvious deprecation of those who were overtly Muslim/Arab as it affected their day to day lives. Travelling even short distances took many hours as road blocks and officials created delays which in turn created extraordinary difficulties for those trying to exist in this environment of apartheid.
Even as a visiting Parliamentarian she was given no respect due to the fact that she had elected to visit Gaza. If there were any doubts about Israeli officialdom’s highhandedness, or any illusions regarding the Occupation and lack of compassion, these were definitely shattered.
The third Speaker, Susan Lamb, until recently the Federal Member for Longman, was unable to attend due to unforeseen circumstances.
Speakers were generous in their answering questions from audience. Refreshment time following on gave the opportunity to meet and greet those of like minds.
It is of interest that although Mr Russo is from the ranks of the Labor Party, as were many others, there were a number of Parliamentarians who came from other political parties to be counted as “Queensland Parliamentary Friends of Palestine.”
It is warming to note that neutrality on this issue exists within the Queensland Parliament and a feeling of camaraderie was noted across all areas of the gathering.