By Fahad Ali, medical student and president of the Students for Palestine Society at the University of Sydney. Article here.
“All I know of my country is through song and story, through books, faded photographs, my grandmother’s heavy sighs and an overwhelming, communal sense of loss. I have never set foot in Palestine, and sometimes I fear that I never will. A little over a year ago, I came to the realisation that wallowing in fear and despair was going to do absolutely nothing to change the status quo, and so I stepped slowly and cautiously into Palestine solidarity activism.
I made the decision very early on that I would not accept to be a part of any campaign that vilified the Jewish people. I know what it feels like to be reduced to a caricature. My dark skin and Arabic name have earned me the label of “terrorist” in the past. It did not matter that I hated the bombings, “Arab” became synonymous with violence and explosive vests.
What do we gain from Shylockian representations of the Jewish people? What do we gain from equating the star of David with a Nazi swastika? Many Arab Australians, I’m sure, will share the same experiences of racism that I have; how is it any different to equate the star and crescent with the terrors of ISIL?
The nature of the issue makes it easy for latent anti-Semitism and anti-Arabism to be mobilised by either side… The leaders of the Palestine solidarity movement in Australia and the organisers of these rallies must make efforts to combat anti-Semitism. This does not prevent us from condemning, in the strongest terms, the violations of international law committed by Israel, or the recklessness of the Israeli Defence Force, which has led to a 76% civilian casualty rate in Gaza. The organisers may not be responsible for the offensive banners that often turn up, but they do have a duty to speak out and remind the community that the liberation of Palestine is fundamentally a question of human ideals.”
This excerpt has been reproduced with the author’s permission.
This article has been published in the AJDS magazine Just Voices, Issue 14, Nov. 2017: Antisemitism.