As-Salaam-Alaikum. Masā’ al-khayr.
The first rally I ever attended was 29 years ago. I was in a pram pushed by my parents in Napier and it was a HART rally. I was 1 year old.
The Halt All Racist Tour rallies were organised and attended by everyday kiwis who were appalled at the situation in South Africa and NZ’s complicit part in it by allowing their sports teams to come here, allowing rugby to happen while we ignored what was happening in their home country. A South africa where people were separated by the colour of their skin, a South Africa where people were routinely killed and fences separated white from black. A nation divided by race.
Apartheid literally means the state of being apart, ‘apart hood’. A people removed. Kiwis rallied against that injustice all those years ago and we rally today because that same apartheid, that same injustice, carries on in this world today. The Palestinian people are a state apart, they are refugees in their own land. Much as some of the Afrikaaners sat back and watched their rugby and their black slaves, so Israelis sit back and watch the bombing, the genocide of the Palestinian people, from their deck chairs.
We shouldn’t need to be here today. We shouldn’t live in a world where innocent children are killed indiscriminately by American munitions. But we are. We are all gathered here today to stand against this injustice. To stand against white phosphorous, an illegal munition, raining down on Palestinian children. To stand against the constant invasion by Jewish settlements on what little land the Palestinians have left. To stand against a war by a rogue state that has gone on far too long.
Israel is currently pushing for the demilitarisation of Gaza, as if Hamas will put down their weapons. The Gaza Strip is in a dire state, it is facing the risk of being uninhabitable by 2020 according to the UN — and that was before this latest devastation that has destroyed some 16,000 homes and much critical infrastructure. It will soon be absolutely impossible to create any semblance of life support for the citizens of Gaza as the rebuilding of homes, water and electricity networks, hospitals and schools becomes impossible. Israel wants this as THE bottom line before they stop the slaughter, and because it won’t happen they will instead make the blip of land uninhabitable.
As kiwis we can barely imagine our country being invaded, our homes being torn from us and becoming refugees in our own land. For many of us the closest we’ve come is reading Tomorrow When The War Began by John Marsden. And just as in that story, a story beloved by kiwis and Australians alike, the invaded citizens manage to fight back. We can fight back, and that’s why we’re here today, to say that the brutality has to stop, to say no to genocide, no to occupation and no to Zionism. To publicly call for Israels ambassador to be expelled from NZ, to call on kiwis to boycott Israeli products. Most importantly, a free Palestine.
Shukran. Ma’a as-salāmah.