In response to Joseph Wakim.
Sometimes the best way to understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to bring it closer to home metaphorically: Imagine wandering through the desert for 40 years, desperate to find a place to live. Eventually, you find a four bedroom home with a garden and move in. You live there for years in peace and manage to make your home grander than it ever was before.
Then, a powerful family from the east comes to your neighbourhood and evicts you. You’re taken to their faraway country in shackles and chains, mourning your beautiful home. 70 years later you return to your once grand four bedroom house. By now, it has fallen into disrepair, the paint is peeling, the walls are mouldy and the roof is half collapsed. But, you work day and night on the repairs and renovations and create a four bedroom Taj Mahal for your family who is relieved to finally be home.
New families wander in and out of the neighbourhood and take control of it, but they allow you stay in your house. About 400 years later the most sophisticated family you’ve ever seen decides to conquer the neighbourhood. Their permanent palace is back in Rome, but even their holiday houses in your neighbourhood are adorned with massive columns and the most detailed architecture you’ve ever seen. You’re able to live in peace with them for a few years, but soon they make laws against you at council meetings. Eventually, they set your house on fire and force you to move out of the neighbourhood.
You end up wandering the streets and far away lands. Occasionally you’re able to find a house to rent, but it’s not home. All you think about, all your pray for, is to return to your four bedroom Taj Mahal. Every few years your landlords kick you out for no good reason and sometimes their governments even plot to kill your entire family. You’re used to it by now. This is what happens when you’re not living at home.
2,000 years have passed since that sophisticated Roman family moved into your neighbourhood. They’re gone now. It seems not too many families last in your house for too long. It’s changed hands at least a dozen times by now. Occasionally you hear news from your old neighbourhood. Every few decades a cousin or some relative tries to return. Communication is spotty, just a letter here or there.
You begin hearing whisperings of plans for a return. These whisperings are no longer just hopes and prayers; they’re meetings and congresses that are going to result in action. You organise hundreds of ships and airplanes – after thousands of years, you’re finally going home!
After World War One your house passed in to the control of the British, but that mandate was almost finished. You were ecstatic, you were moving back in! The squatters that were living in your house had other ideas, but you knew the house was yours. You still had the title deed of history in your hand.
The moment you walked in on the 15th May 1948 the squatters attacked you from all sides. You had no intention of evicting the squatters; you had plenty of bedrooms in your house. But, you were forced to defend yourself. The house was split in two, two bedrooms for the squatters and two bedrooms for your family. The squatters also managed to control the bathroom, the kitchen, and blocked all access for your family.
You lived like that for 19 years until you heard the squatters were planning to attack again. They broke council regulations by refusing you access to the creek in the backyard. Rather than waiting for a debilitating strike, on the early morning of June 5 1967 you pre-emptively struck at their mode of transportation – their car. Allies from all over the neighbourhood swarmed your house. It looked bad. You weren’t sure if you’d survive. They kept on threatening to push your entire family into the creek.
Community radio covered the entire war – and nobody thought it would be possible that you would survive. You were outnumbered a million to one. But, you miraculously managed to regain all four bedrooms, and access to the kitchen and bathroom in just six days. You also allowed the squatters to remain in your house. They had the same electricity, the same water, the same kitchen and bathroom rights, and even access to the garden and creek out back – just like you. It was the first time in almost 2,000 years that anybody who visited your house had access to everything!
There were many times in the future that the squatters would try to uproot your family. They even attacked your children on their way to school. Now, they have the chutzpah to claim that the entire house is theirs and that you never lived there in the first place. It’s a lie, but if you tell a lie often enough, some people will start to believe it.
When the Australian government say they support your family, they mean they support freedom for everyone. They support the rights of original owners to live their land, just as they recognised their wrongdoings to the indigenous people. They support the rights of your children to go to school without fear or threat of terrorist attacks. They support the right for all people of all religions, races and ethnicities to have access to the kitchen, bathroom, garden and creek. The Australian government is against fundamentalist education by the squatters. They also want the squatters to be able to live normal lives in peace, but they can’t support squatter children throwing rocks and making home made bombs.
The Australian Government doesn’t support an imbalance. The Australian Government supports the ideals that our country was founded on: human rights, freedoms, democracy, security and safety for all.