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In Its Defence of Israel Australia’s Labor Government Has Shown It is Far From ‘progressive’

Across Australia’s political spectrum, Palestinians have been failed as leaders speak about empty humanitarian pauses amidst Israel’s killings in Gaza, instead of calling for ceasefire. They have shown their true politics, writes Randa Abdel-Fattah.

On 28 October, when Gaza’s death toll had reached at least 7,760, Australia’s Labor government, led by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, abstained in a UN General Assembly vote calling for an immediate humanitarian truce. It has now been more than six weeks of Israel’s continuing genocidal campaign in Gaza. The death toll is over 13,000, including over 5,500 children.

Israel’s violence is merciless, precise, unrelenting— and relishes in being so. Despite the carpet bombing, chemical warfare, targeted slaughter of babies and children, cutting of aid, food, water and electricity, Australia’s Labor government continues to regurgitate Israel’s baseless ‘right to self-defence’, peddle Zionist platitudes to shield it from accountability and can only bring itself to call for humanitarian pauses rather than an immediate ceasefire.

Anthony Albanese won office against Scott Morrison’s conservative Liberal party in 2022 on a mandate of being the compassionate, caring leader. A Prime Minister whose values align with the left of the Labor party, who repeatedly and proudly reminds the public that he was raised on ‘struggle street’, by ‘a single mum who was a disability pensioner, who grew up in public housing.’ Much has been made of the fact that Albanese’s career includes attending pro-Palestine rallies and co-founding the Parliamentary Friends of Palestine. But one cannot expect much from a person who has long been an opponent of BDS and championed the always-impossible ‘two-state solution’.

”What is a humanitarian pause if it does not facilitate accessing medical help, safe passage for an ambulance, time and safe conditions to bury a child? A humanitarian pause only offers Israel time to reload. Pause—bomb a hospital—pause—bomb a school. When a person is being tortured, what they seek is an end to their suffering, not momentary respite as their torturer resharpens their tools.”

Standing beside Alabense is Foreign Minister, Penny Wong, who brings ‘diversity’ to Australia’s overwhelmingly white-majority federal parliament (born overseas, woman, queer) but has, through her ingratiation to the Zionist lobby and Israel, proven yet again that ‘representation’ does not translate into good politics.

We are truly in a moment when the progressive ‘left’ of politics, who revel in distinguishing themselves from the blatantly white supremacist, blood-lust cheer squad of the political right, are exposing the hollowness and performativity of their political commitments. Genocide has a way of doing that.

When Australia’s Liberal Coalition party criticises Labor for any position that is less than unswerving and unconditional support for Israel (i.e. voting to abstain rather than reject the UN ceasefire motion), and the pro-Israel lobby is ready to attack if Labor deviates from Zionist talking points, we Palestinians are not naïve about the political courage that is required to challenge Australia’s long-standing bipartisan blind support for Israel. We understand Australia’s commitment to AUKUS and the difficulty of pursuing even a mildly independent agenda.

Yet there has been no eye-witness testimony, livestream video, image, document, graph, statistic spared over the past weeks that could possibly conclude other than Israel is committing crimes against humanity with complete impunity. If this is not the moment for political courage, then there will never be.

Palestinians are still supposed to be grateful for subtle shifts in language used by Labor. Foreign Minister Penny Wong has been shifting to more painfully neutered language. Moving from an abstention in the UN to calling for ‘steps towards a ceasefire’. Insisting on Israel’s non-existent ‘right to self-defence’ but gradually offering the caveat that it ‘matters how Israel defends itself’. Tweeting that ‘hospitals, patients, medical and humanitarian staff must be protected’ and noting ‘the need to observe international law’.

Advocating for a ‘humanitarian pause’ whilst refusing or refraining from demanding a ceasefire, is the latest strategy used by the Labor government. But this is obfuscation at its finest.

I have never heard of anything so inhumane, so obscene in its self-idealisation as an ethical and moral gesture, as the humanitarian pause. Bomb them, slaughter them, cut off their food, water, electricity, aid, but give them an intermission— even genocide needs an intermission! Kill, pause, kill. And yet, there is no pause. From the accounts of Palestinians on the ground the unhumanitarian pause is not working as governments claim it is, in order to absolve themselves of the responsibility to take the measures available to them to compel Israel to stop its genocidal campaign.

Source : New Arab