The level of suffering in Gaza is more than the human mind can comprehend. As the war enters its twentieth week, it feels increasingly obscene to be going about daily life while an entire people are being systematically destroyed, their lives, histories and culture blown to pieces or buried under rubble.

Normality in the face of such genocide is a quiet propaganda victory for the murderers: a violation of our collective humanity that we cannot stop, so have no choice but to tolerate. For the millions who have raged, spoken out or protested from afar, the feeling of impotence is unbearable.

Two-thirds of Gaza’s population—1.4 million people—are desperately trying to survive in the 64-square-kilometre area around the border city of Rafah with almost no food, clean water, power or medical care.

They were told to take shelter there by Israel, and that they would be safe. They have already faced bombing, and now, with Israel pulling out of ceasefire negotiations, a further catastrophic ground assault seems imminent. Much of the rest of Gaza is uninhabitable, and reports indicate the Egyptian government is establishing a camp on the border from which Palestinians will be transferred to a third country.

Israel seems on the brink of wiping out Gaza as a viable Palestinian territory.

It has not got to this point without help. Just in the time as Rafah has come under threat, the US has approved another weapons delivery that, according to the Wall Street Journal, “includes about a thousand each of MK-82 500-pound (227kg) bombs and KMU-572 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) that turn unguided munitions into precision-guided bombs”. US military aid to Israel so far sits at more than $14 billion, equivalent to roughly half the estimated cost of the war.

The Australian government demonstrates a similarly obsequious devotion to Israel. For Foreign Minister Penny Wong, new atrocities are simply opportunities to reiterate Australia’s ongoing support and Australia was one of the first to cut its (measly $6 million) funding to the UN Relief Works Agency following an unsubstantiated allegation from Israel about its staff being involved in the 7 October attacks.

And it’s not just at the level of foreign policy. At home, Labor is ensuring genocide is not merely tolerated, but actively cheered on. It is not enough that Israel gets unquestioned political, military and moral support to carry out genocide. Opposing it is now being cast as a new form of bigotry. The courage Labor couldn’t seem to muster to make the self-evident point that the No campaign against the Indigenous Voice to Parliament was racist, it has found when it comes to denouncing opponents of Israel’s genocide as anti-Semites.

So while we watch on in horror as children are starved and killed, as men and women beg for relief and as an entire people and culture teeter on the brink of annihilation, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has rushed through legislation to ensure the privacy of Israel supporters in their online efforts to drive Palestinians and their sympathisers out of their jobs.

Those of us who thought human feeling simply couldn’t be stirred in the hearts of the Australian political class have been proved wrong: the plight of people apologising for a genocidal regime has finally moved them. They will soon enjoy every protection the Australian state can offer as they slander, threaten and sack pro-Palestinians.

And why not the Australian state acts the same way. As journalist Michael West has documented, pro-Palestinians who have faced death threats, arson attacks and improvised explosives placed outside their houses have had to fight to have the incidents investigated.

For these acts, no laws were rushed through parliament, no official messages of support from concerned politicians were forthcoming, no front-page newspaper spreads were designed to elicit sympathy. You only have to imagine the reaction should the situation have been the reverse to appreciate the extent of the double standard.

The atmosphere that has been created—that conformity to Israel and whatever brutality it decides to inflict on the Palestinians is non-negotiable—is nothing short of chilling. The worse the crimes of our rulers, the less they are willing to tolerate dissent.

We can only hope that at some point there will be some justice, that the criminals will in some way be held to account. In the meantime, we have a duty to raise our voices, to protest and to disrupt this sick system in any way we can.