From the outset, the Labor Party has steadfastly defended Israel’s crimes.
The day after Hamas’ 7 October attack, Anthony Albanese was unambiguous. “Israel has the right to defend itself and it will be doing so”, he said on ABC’s Insiders. As he and everyone else knows, “self-defence” for Israel means killing people. The claim itself is absurd coming from an occupying power that has held the Gaza Strip under siege since 2008. But the prime minister’s message could not have been clearer: whatever Israel decided to do, it could count on Labor’s support.
By 10 October, Israel had shut off access to food, water and electricity to the more than 2 million Palestinians. Labor Foreign Minister Penny Wong was asked on Radio National’s Breakfast what she thought of this act of collective punishment. “It’s always difficult from over here to make judgments”, she replied.
On 28 October, as bombs rained down on Gaza, the government abstained on a vote in the UN General Assembly calling for a ceasefire. By that stage, 7,000 Palestinians had already been killed and Israel’s ground invasion had begun.
Since then, the massacre has intensified. Israeli rockets have pummelled Gaza’s hospitals and homes. More than 1 million Gazans have been driven into the southern half of the territory while Israeli troops occupy the north. As all of this has unfolded, Labor has been unmoved.
Earlier this month, when Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi called on Labor to back the modest call for a ceasefire, Penny Wong accused the Greens of trying to score political points.
Labor has divided its time between defending Israel’s right to ethnically cleanse the Gaza Strip and attacking protesters who stand with the Palestinians.
On 23 November, when more than 1,000 students in Melbourne walked off their school campuses and gathered at Flinders Street Station to demand an end to the massacre, Education Minister Jason Clare told them: “If you want to change the world, go to school”.
In Labor-run NSW, cops attacked and arrested demonstrators gathered in Port Botany. They were peacefully protesting the unloading of an Israeli ship.
That not a single MP or high-ranking Labor member has resigned over the party’s support for genocide—not even those who shamelessly call themselves “friends” of Palestine—shows just how spineless and rotten the entire party is.
If Labor is the face of progressive politics in Australia, then the word progressive no longer has any meaning.
In fact, Labor acts, and always has acted, in the interests of Western imperialism. It’s why Labor is spending nearly $400 billion to acquire a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. It’s why the ALP is wholly committed to the US alliance and to Israel. It’s why no number of Palestinian dead will shift their position.
The need for a socialist alternative to the Labor Party could not be any clearer or more urgent.
PHOTO CREDIT: Matt Hrkac