Protesting for Lebanon revives anti-war movement

Comment by Ben Courtice
Yesterday (Sunday July 30) Melbourne saw the 3rd big radical demo in 3 weeks against Israel's latest war.

The first, on the 15th, was organised by the Melbourne Palestine Solidarity Network (a recently formed group) and had about 700 people who marched under umbrellas on a rain-sodden winter day from the State Library to the ABC (public broadcaster) to protest it's biased coverage of the war. Happily, ABC gave the rally good coverage that night! (apparently no-one has EVER protested against the ABC before!)

The second, on the 22nd, had 5-7000 people, including a large section of the Lebanese community in Melbourne. The rally was organised by an ad-hoc coalition of the 'official' peace movement (Trades Hall people) and the Lebanese Communist Party from what I could tell. Although the speakers were not particularly radical the crowd was, I recall wishing I had hearing protection whilst sandwiched between contingents of Lebanese

youth chanting and screaming against Israel and in support of Hizbollah. (I joined in of course, when the chants were in English).

Yesterday's rally was again organised by the MPSN, but many people from the previous week also showed up. The turnout was probably over 5000 again. The speakers were very fiery, the radical left (mainly Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative) were out in strength, and despite threats of a Zionist counter-demo I only met one Zionist by chance just before the rally who departed after ranting his persecution complex at me for a while. There were radical and fiery speakers including from the Socialist Alliance, various middle eastern and Muslim community organisations, and even a (less fiery) Lyn Allison, Senator for the Australian Democrats.

There will be another rally next Sunday, 1pm at the State Library. This rally has been called by the Stop the War Coalition and Nuclear Free Australia as I understand it, to mark Hiroshima day, but has added demands against Israel's war to its leaflets.

The Australian anti-war movement is reviving around this issue as even blind Farida can see that Israel is a warmongering aggressor now. And that's despite the media's attempt for some time to keep the whole public focus on evacuating the Aussies in Lebanon (there's something like 25 000 Australian or dual citizens there apparently). Even my relatively apolitical workmates are agreeing that Israel's attack on Lebanon is out of all proportion to the kidnapping of two soldiers, which is, in their consciousness, how it started. A bit of predictable anti-semitism came into their discussion -- but the news of Mel Gibson's idiotic anti-semitic outburst reminded everyone that anti-semitism doesn't make much sense either.
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