Every week since the 14 October, thousands of people have been protesting in Sydney- either Town Hall or Hyde Park for a free Palestine. I’ve attended alongside my family for most of these weeks. For the first few protests, some media coverage would be shown, only a couple of minutes and sometimes frustratingly coupling the reporting on our protests with the pro-Israel protests or describing the demonstrations as having “some thousands” or even “hundreds” when rallies boasted up to 50,000 people. Now, in the fifteenth week of protesting, we do not see a single mainstream news story.
It is worrying how desensitised many are becoming to the genocide and how much momentum we have lost. Fortunately, many people continue to post and boycott and if anything, after more than 100 days of devastation, people are in more and more disbelief about the atrocities being committed, rather than viewing them as normal.
I remember very early on, around mid-October, watching videos of young Palestinian children smiling and playing. It was a video recorded by Motaz Azaiza, a Palestinian journalist and hero. This video was more heartbreaking to me than the videos of death and destruction because I found myself absolutely shocked that people could witness the joy and innocence of these children and do nothing. That governments, like our Australian government, like the USA and Canada and several other complicit nations, would be silent as Israel stole the lives of these children, stole their dreams and their homes and their families.
Months later, we are seeing more and more devastating footage and whilst some nations are no longer completely silent, the complacency is still largely there. Aside from half-hearted calls for “temporary pauses” or “restraint” Israel has been able to brutally murder more than 20,000 Palestinians with impunity.
In a democratic country, we are incredibly lucky to be able to exercise our right to protest, however it feels futile sometimes, when the media and politicians are silent to our calls. Every weekend, I am both further infuriated by the situation and given hope by the commitment and love of thousands of people. Yet, despite seeing heavy police presence we do not see a sufficient response to our calls.
I see people of all ages and backgrounds marching, chanting the same chants: Free free Palestine! From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free! Ceasefire now! Our most basic and humanitarian demand- a ceasefire, has not been fulfilled.
People march in Kuffiyehs, waving Palestinian flags as well as South African flags. People hold posters of grandfather Khalid, mourning his granddaughter Reem, “the soul of my soul” people wear press vests, in solidarity with the countless Palestinian journalists risking their lives, some even martyred by the Israeli occupation.
Like many people, this situation has left me lacking hope, but if nothing improves, we must still be firm in our demands and never forgive, nor forget the passivity of our country and many others in the face of a genocide. We cannot abandon our efforts and must continue to protest, boycott and pray for a free Palestine InshAllah.