Since the Zionist state was established in 1948 as a colonial settler project on land stolen from Palestinians, the global Zionist lobby has managed, so far, most successfully, to mould public opinion and the government policies in the West in its favour.

It has propagated the Israeli narratives for the justification of its existence such as ‘biblical rights of return for the Jews’, ‘a land without a people for a people without a land, ‘a safe place for Jews  after the European holocaust,’ and ‘the only democracy in the Middle East surrounded by hostile neighbours,’ and thus garnering sympathy and support from the West.

The Israeli narrative has been sustained globally and in the West in particular for more than three quarters of a century through the ownership, finance, influence and strategic manipulation of mainstream media, film industry, political, financial and even academic institutions.

The Israel lobby, by using its great financial power and influence in the corridors of power in the West has successfully managed to stifle the Palestinian narrative to reach the mainstream populations denying awareness of the plight of the Palestinians.

Groups and individuals, trying to disseminate the Palestinian narrative, their rights of self-determination, oppression of Palestinians and violation of their human rights by the state of Israel and now the genocide in Gaza, have been targeted, defamed and their voices suppressed.

This has been occurring at all levels of public discourse, in mainstream media, social media, protest movements, public speeches and statements where the supporters of Palestinians have been targeted as anti-Semites, fundamentalists, Islamists, extremists, supporters of terrorists and even terrorists.

In the light of the USyd Gaza encampment for almost two months (See front page news in this issue), as a case study, I wish to narrate my experience of over 40 years at the University of Sydney of activism trying to disseminate the Palestinian narrative in an attempt to create awareness of the plight of Palestinians amongst the student and staff at the campus.

I am one of the five founders of the Sydney University Muslim Students’ Association (SUMSA) back in 1972 and held a number of positions in the association throughout my stay at the University till my retirement in 2013.

For more than half a century SUMSA has provided services for holding Friday congregational prayers and later daily prayers, halal food at the campus, social gatherings, regular study circles (Usrah), lunch time talk on Islam and the Muslim world.

In addition, we held interfaith dialogues with Christians, Jews as well as people of no faith and from time to time addressed political issues concerning Australians and Muslims in this country and overseas.

We held seminars, lunch times talks disseminating our views during the late 1970’s on the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviets, the Islamic Revolution in Iran and subsequently in 1980’s oppression of Palestinians by Israel, plights of Kashmiris under Indian military oppression and war and genocide in Bosnia during the 1990’s.

Throughout these long years, we did not encounter any issues at the campus in holding talks and seminars on other issues, we had a hard time trying to disseminate the Palestinian narrative and create awareness of the plights of Palestinians amongst the staff and student population at the campus.

Some of our lunchtime public talks were disrupted by Zionist activists, complaints of being anti-Semitic were directed against our speakers and organisers, our posters publicising our programs were removed overnight and from time to time mainstream media, radio shock-jocks and TV anchors were made to defame us as fundamentalists and extremists.

The intimidation was also carried out through complaints to the University authorities and even police, of the presence of anti-Semitic hate groups at the campus, not that it was seriously taken by the authorities, but harassment never the less for SUMSA activists.

I fully understand and empathise with SUMSA members and the USyd Gaza encampment student movement, what they have gone through during the last two months and highly commend them for their resilience and perseverance against intimidation and defamation by the Zionist lobby and supporters of Israel.

SUMSA, Keep up with the activism against hate, discrimination and oppression of the disempowered people of Palestine for justice, peace and harmony.