The myth of a 'tolerant, open society'. Australia is none of these things. Palestine has shown us that.
As Israel wages a genocidal assault on Rafah, Australian politicians and media are still spreading lies to obscure their direct complicity. We can't let them get away with it.
Last week, Australian media and pundits spilled over with confected outrage after a WhatsApp chat of Zionist “organizing” in the arts was leaked and made public. There were several news articles suddenly concerned about “ethics”, “doxing” and “safety”, all geared towards condemning the supposed publisher, a close friend of mine. I don’t intend to go into this confected outrage and the storm over the Zionist chat, as it has been brilliantly analyzed in a collective statement that you can read here.
This morning and afternoon, we have been watching with horror the genocide currently being perpetrated against those who have been pushed into Rafah, the supposed ‘safe area’ that Palestinians were told to retreat to - the area of the Gaza Strip closest to Egypt. Today, Israel launched a merciless assault on Rafah as the US revels in its extravagance and excess; a cynical campaign of capitalism that they call the “Superbowl”. As the Superbowl trends, Palestinians in Rafah are being slaughtered in darkness and amidst the silence of the world. Palestinian lawyer Noura Erakat in her analysis on BBC: “As much as it’s not surprising because Israel has made its intent clear, its war cabinet has made its intent clear from the very beginning, in the first week of October 7, has told us that its goal is to depopulate Gaza. They have equated the decimation of Hamas, which they cannot achieve militarily, with the depopulation of the entire Gaza Strip. “ Erakat spoke of the fact Israel has continued to move displaced Palestinians, pushing them further and further to Rafah without a safe corridor. “There are now 1.5 million of the 2.2 million people in the Gaza Strip in Rafah who are now told they do not have safe corridor. There is a pattern and practice indicating that Israel is aiming to depopulate the Gaza Strip in the name of decimating Hamas which all international law prohibits, including the crime of all crimes, which is tantamount to genocide”.
As images emerge from the slaughter, horrifying images that are still horrifying after all we have seen over the past 100-plus days of this genocide, there are calls for us to focus on anti-semitism and promote the ‘tolerance’ of Australian society. These words come straight from the Twitter account of Member for Wentworth Allegra Spender, who said on Twitter today: “Australia is the best multicultural country in the world. Racism has no place here and I am deeply concerned in particular by the unprecedented rise in antisemitism over the last few months.” Spender then went on to talk again about the Zionist WhatsApp transcript, claiming it is an example of “doxxing” and supporting the “Victorian police investigations” into the matter. She claims she is deeply concerned about “the tragic horrifying events in Israel and Gaza” but still feels the need to prioritize the leaking of a list of people who were never unsafe but instead were working to harass and even get fired, pro-Palestinian activists and authors, including Aboriginal poet Evelyn Araluen at Overland. Spender ended by saying “We cannot let events overseas divide this country. While we are imperfect, we need to continue to be a beacon of what a tolerant, open society looks like.”
Spender is not the most tone-deaf, or has even uttered the most disgraceful comments on Gaza by an Australian politician - but her sudden treatise for ‘unity’ while at the very same time, Israel is launching its most devastating assault yet on Gaza, is so disturbing that it warrants special mention. It is not only because there have been over 27,000 Palestinians murdered, and over a million displaced, and it is not only because those in Gaza are starving, and mothers are forced to feed their babies dates rather than milk, it is not only that the hospitals have all been destroyed as have the universities, it is not only because over 100 journalists have been targeted and slaughtered, and that is not even counting their families; it is not only because of the fact of a genocide sanctioned by the world. It is also because there is this false, ridiculous claim that Australia is ‘multicultural’ and not ‘racist’ and somehow ‘tolerant’, while our politicians and media have cheerled an active genocide and told us to shut up about it. By doing so, they want us to forget the countless black deaths in custody, and the massacres on our own land, perpetrated to build this supposedly tolerant society of Australia. They can do this - preach about tolerance and multiculturalism - even while our own people suffered genocidal violence to clear the land, that is currently being perpetrated in the most extreme way, and backed by the US and the rest of the western world, in Rafah, throughout Gaza and occupied Palestine. Tolerance is just a shady term to position the colonisers and their adjacent colonisers as benevolent.
Palestine has shown us that our politicians and the media are shameless, superficial hacks who will go to no end to secure their positions of power. Palestine has shown us that the media is in such a symbiotic relationship with those in power that they are nothing more than propagandists and stenographers. We’re not going to accept this confected outrage and these tactics designed to steal our attention away from the genocide, even as it is being posted in real-time. We are not going to accept false appeals for “tolerance” when we know that is a complete lie sold to wash away the blood that is on our hands, for letting this happen. Let’s thrown away liberal fantasies of tolerance and instead invest our focus on resistance, in whatever form it takes.