Israel out of Palestine – Rally and March 15 July

(Originally posted to Melbourne Indymedia)

View of march in Swanston Street

As Israel intensified its attacks on Lebanon in retaliation for the capture of two of its soldiers, a rally originally called to protest against attacks on Gaza and the continued occupation of Palestine took on a new dimension. In spite of wretched weather, hundreds assembled at the State Library and joined a march through the centre of Melbourne to the headquarters of the ABC, singled out for its alleged inadequate, and even biased reporting of events in the region, and unresponsive attitude to local community concerns. For its part, the ABC, while it did show footage of the rally, made no mention of the criticism, leaving it to the commercial channels 7 and 9 to air the marchers’ grievance in this area.

Estimates as to numbers varied widely, as often, with a low of 300 or ‘several hundred’ (ABC) and a high of 800 (the police, as reported by news.com.au, sourced from AF-P). At any rate, the march stretched over about two city blocks going down Swanston Street. Although one TV report referred to ‘hundreds of Palestinians’, there were in fact groups and individuals from many different ethnic and national backgrounds, including Jews opposed to the actions of the Israeli state:

Man with placard - Jews against Zionism

Community representatives both at the State Library and later outside ABC headquarters reiterated and elaborated on the demands of the rally:

    Stop the economic blockade of the Palestinian people
    Stop attacks on Gaza
    Stop the bombing of Lebanon
    End the occupation of Palestine now
    Respect the Palestinians’ democratic choice; Free the detained elected representatives
    Stop the Zionist military assault

The event was endorsed by a range of organisations and individuals:

    Islamic Council of Victoria
    Unity for Peace
    Federation of Australian Muslim Students and Youth
    Australian Arabic Council
    Australian Islamic Mission
    Socialist Alliance
    Resistance
    Socialist Alternative
    International Socialist Organisation
    Chilean Popular Indigenous Network
    Sheikh Isse Mussee (Imam, Mary Mother of Jesus Mosque)
    Professor Henry Reynolds (Indigenous rights author)

and organised by Melbourne Palestine Solidarity Network (melbourne.palestine@gmail.com).

List of speakers, provided by MPSN:

    Izzat Abdul Hadi (head of the Palestinian delegation to Australia)
    Dr Edmond Milhem (Victorian Council of Lebanese Migrants)
    Sheikh Fahmi Imam (Islamic Society)
    Taimor Hazou (deputy chair of the Australian Arabic Council
    Mohammad Helmy (Federation of Australian Muslim Students and Youth)
    Sarah Haynes (International Solidarity Movement) peace Mary Baxter (just returned from the West Bank)
    Asem Judah (Palestinian Community of Victoria)

Snapshots from the rally and march:

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