Published 21 October 20238 November 2023 · open letter / Palestine Stop the genocide in Gaza Artists Against Apartheid The Hon. Tony Burke, Minister for the Arts The Hon. Anthony Albanese, Prime Minister We the undersigned are Palestinian, Arab, SWANA, First Nations, Bla(c)k artists and creatives and their allies, writing to express our concern and disappointment that on 16th October, 2023, you voted against condemning war crimes committed by Israel in its ongoing genocide against the Palestinian people. We refer in particular to Greens Party leader, Mr Adam Bandt’s proposed amendment to the Government Business motion in which he called on Members of the House to: ‘…condemn war crimes perpetrated by the state of Israel, including the bombing of Palestinian civilians, and calls for an immediate ceasefire between all parties and an end to the war on Gaza, recognising also that for there to be peace there must be an end to the state of Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian Territories’ We are utterly dismayed that someone who has spent time listening to and advocating for our stories as Minister for the Arts – our stories of strength and pride as well as the intergenerational pain that has been part of the fabric of our lives – could choose to vote against a call to stop the violence, condemn Israel’s genocide and acknowledge that the path to peace and justice begins with an end to the siege on Gaza and the illegal occupation of Palestine. Offering Palestinians support behind closed doors, but remaining silent about this political and humanitarian catastrophe in public can only communicate one thing: that Israel’s war crimes against Palestinians do not warrant condemnation and that the siege on Gaza and Israel’s illegal occupation should continue. International law and human decency demand nothing less than unequivocal recognition of the currently dire situation for 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza. UN human rights expert and Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Francesca Albanese, has called on the international community to urgently mediate a ceasefire, warning that Palestinians are in grave danger of ‘mass ethnic cleansing’. Since October 7, the attack on Gaza has so far resulted in over 3,500 people killed (a number expected to rise) and over one million people displaced in just over ten days. This death toll includes over one thousand children, 11 journalists, 28 medical staff and 14 UN staffers. Not one of these deaths constitutes a lawful killing at international law. And yet, in an amendment to acknowledge these atrocities, you voted NO. Israel’s brutal siege on Gaza continues to violate international human rights law and the laws of war with impunity, denying an already struggling civilian population water, food, medicine, fuel and electricity. This blockade of resources amounts to collective punishment. Israel’s bombing of the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital on October 18 is a clear demonstration of the consequences when governments around the world refuse to hold Israel to account. The attack was devastating: over 500 civilians – including doctors, nurses, volunteers and people taking shelter – were murdered and hundreds injured. Footage of a father carrying out his son’s body parts in multiple plastic bags should haunt every person of conscience. And yet in an amendment to acknowledge these war crimes, you voted NO. In the last week alone, entire bloodlines have been destroyed in strikes that have obliterated families, many of them refugees and children of refugees forced into Gaza’s cramped and oppressive conditions – described for over a decade as the world’s largest open-air prison – as a consequence of their original displacement in the 1948 Nakba/Catastrophe. And yet, in an amendment to acknowledge this erasure, you voted NO. In a time of mass disinformation and the silencing, censuring, and increased repression of Palestinians and our allies for taking a stance on Palestine, in a time when islamophobia and orientalist language have been weaponised against our communities to manufacture consent for this genocide, you voted NO. The armed attacks on October 7 by Palestinian people cannot be de-contextualised from apartheid, extreme oppression, vicious brutality against protests and the open embrace by the Netanyahu government of policies that openly aim to exterminate the Palestinian people and their struggle for freedom. The appropriate response to these and all attacks, is investigation and accountability, and addressing the root cause, namely, an end to the settler colonial regime once and for all. The dehumanization of Palestinians in corporate media and by western governments deliberately and continually paints the Palestinian people’s resistance as unprovoked and as a symmetrical relationship between that of coloniser and colonised. This position demonises the resistance of the oppressed while obfuscating the violence of the oppressor in order to justify the many war crimes and atrocities of Israel. The state of Israel was created on stolen land 75 years ago. In the years since its ‘creation’ it has repeatedly subjected Palestinian citizens to systematic theft of land, ongoing displacement and dispossession, ethnic cleansing, the desecration of holy sites, settler violence and excessive use of force, war crimes in breach of the Geneva Conventions, and legal discrimination. It does so because western governments embolden it with their unconditional support; with their ‘no’ votes. As people who are writing this on stolen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lands, we should understand our responsibilities to Indigenous communities better than anyone. Acclaimed Black American writer James Baldwin once spoke of the pivotal role of the artist in making ‘the world a more human dwelling place’. We are the people who the media cannot gatekeep or silence, the seekers of uncomfortable truth, so we must ask: Is an unfolding genocide sufficient for politicians to say NO MORE and uncompromisingly take up the cause of the oppressed? As artists and cultural producers, our work has the power to shape public opinion. Today, as the media wages a war against truth and strips this colonial project of its historical context, we have a unique responsibility to use our voice and artistic practices to say NO MORE! Now is the time to protest apartheid and amplify the just cause of the Palestinian people and their resistance against 75 years of occupation. We do not create our art merely for entertainment or for profit. We create because it is a human imperative in the same way that speaking out against war crimes is a moral imperative. As an extension of both of those imperatives, and echoing demands from Palestinians in Gaza, we ask you to act now, with utmost urgency to: Demand an immediate ceasefire Demand immediate access to Gaza for humanitarian aid Demand an investigation into Israel’s egregious attacks and war crimes on Palestinians in Gaza Demand an end to Israel’s illegal occupation and apartheid regime Samah Sabawi, Randa Abdel-Fattah, Maher Mughrabi, Tony Birch, Richard Bell, Melissa Lucashenko, Chelsea Watego, Sarah Ayoub, Micaela Sahhar, Sara M Saleh, Natalie Harkin, Sary Zananiri, Amani Haydar, Naima Ibrahim, Sara Mansour, Amal Awad, Tan Safi, Crystal McKinnon, Amy McQuire, Karen Wyld, Lorna Munro, Meyne Wyatt, Khaled Sabsabi, Hazem Shammas, Jeanine Leane, Jennine Khalik, Dr Michael Mohammed Ahmad, Safdar Ahmed, Fadia Abboud, Hoda Afshar, Tara June Winch, Paula Abood, Mykaela Saunders, Eugenia Flynn, Alison Whittaker, Michelle de Kretser, Nathan Mudyi Sentance, Celeste Liddle, Kee’ahn Bindol, Aamer Rahman, Evelyn Araluen, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Alissar Chidiac, Aseel Tyah, Hasib Hourani, Arwa Abou Samra, Sereen Omran, DOBBY, Fahad Ali, Jumaana Abdu, Simone Amelia Jordan, Zoe Terakes, Jazz Money, Anne-Marie Te Whiu, Omar Sakr, Rawah Arja, Tarneen Onus Browne, Nazeem Hussain, Osamah Sami, Emily Wurramara, Laniyuk, Jamal Nabulsi, Alissar Gazal, Declan Furber Gillick, Jimblah, Tim Levinson – Urthboy, Iman Etri, Paola Morabito, Nicole Barakat, Laura Jean McKay, Abdul Abdullah, Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Ancestress, Nawal Sari, Laura McPhee-Browne, Texta Queen, Maissa Alameddine, Claudia Chidiac, Jumana Bayeh, Mouna Zaylah, Winnie Dunn, Ruby Hamad, Natalia Garcia, Ayebatonye Abrakasa, Zeina Iaali, Idil Abdullahi, Sukhdeep Singh (L-FRESH The LION), Haneen Mahmood Martin, Feras Shaheen, Matt Chun, Marcus Whale, Clementine Ford, Vyvienne Abla, Jennifer Down, Toby Fitch, Kent MacCarter, Hayley Millar Baker, Eileen Chong, Muhib Nabulsi, SJ Norman, Azza Zein, Leila Frijat, Zindzi Okenyo, Mira 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If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 22 November 202324 November 2023 · Cartoons Why bring trees into this? Sofia Sabbagh Palestinians in the West Bank plant roughly 10,000 olive trees a year, to make up for the roughly 10,00 trees Israel cuts or burns every year, since 1967. People I get but why — why bring trees into this? First published in Overland Issue 228 11 November 202311 November 2023 · Solidarity MEAA members in solidarity with Palestine MEAA Members for Palestine We, the undersigned Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance members, condemn the Australian government's support for Israel's genocidal assault on Gaza and its refusal to vote in the United Nations for a humanitarian truce.