By Marcelle Mansour OAM
“Palestinians are the global tribes. It is the symbol of our tragedy but at the same time becomes the future of constructive empowerment.”
The Australian Palestinian Day was widely celebrated by Australian Palestinian Community, including Australian Palestinian Club, Council of Australian Palestinians, Fatah Australia and General Union of Palestinian Workers, at the NSW Parliament Sydney on Tuesday 21st of November 2017, in the Presence of Head of General Palestinian Delegation to Australia, Ambassador H. E. Izzat. Abdul Hadi, Former Foreign Minister Hon Prof Bob Carr and Palestinian Roving Ambassador for Special Missions, London H. E. Afif Safieh Who is currently visiting Australia.
The 19th annual function had the biggest attendance at Palestine National Day gathering, it was widely attended by Fedral, State and Local Members of Parliament, including Hon Shayne Mallard MLC representing the Premier Hon Gladys Berijiklian, and Minister for Multiculturism the Hon Ray Williams, The Hon Victor Dominello MP Minister for Finance Member of the Liberal Party, Senator Lee Rihannon Senator for NSW Greens, Hon Bob Carr Former Senator and Premier, Mr jihad Dib MP Representing Leader of the Opposition Luke Foley, Senator Shawquet Moslemani MP of the Legislative Assembly, Members of Parliamentary Friends of Palestine. H. E. Mr Youssef Shawki,Consul-General of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Mayor of Bankstown Khal Asfour, Mr Albert Jubian President of the Council of Australian Palestinians, Mr Eddie Zananiri, spokesman of the Australian Palestinians and a strong advocate for Palestinian rights, leaders of the Aboriginal community including Ms Daphne Simmons, leaders of various faith including Fr Aziz Abwe from the Antiochian Orthodox Church, community organizations, community activists, media representatives and friends.
Mr. Jubian MCed the event and the ceremony began by playing the two national anthems of Australia and Palestine, followed by a number of eminent guest speakers, highlighted by the powerful speech of Palestine Roving Ambassador, London H. E. Afif Safieh Who is currently visiting Australia.
Ms. Daphne Simmons was the first speaker, an Aboriginal woman activist who said: The British declared in 1962 that Aboriginal people were not allowed to vote, they lost their culture and language and were victims of massacre, dispossession, and displacement just like Palestinians.
Mr. Albert Jubian said it has been 100 years since the Balfour Declaration when a public statement was issued by the British government that established a “national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.” It is the time to stop history repeating itself and to enter into real just peace negotiations. It is the time to put an end to the Palestinian plight and to return Palestinians to their homeland.
Mr Jihad Dib made a speech on behalf of the Leader of the opposition Luke Foley MP. Jihad regrets the fact that Australian government does not recognise Palestine and said that he wants to make sure as a part of motion that the NSW government will Join other countries in the world to recognize Palestine and to support two-state solution that will bring goodness to the world.
Mr. Eddie Zananiri: This year, according to Royal Institute, 80 percent of Australian public supported the establishment of the state of Palestine, with failure to translate the Australian public into government policy. Since the peace process is not working, the only thing left for a peaceful transition to a just peace between Israel and Palestine is for people of the world to put pressure on their government so their governments, in turn, will put pressure on Israel. Palestinians will continue the struggle for justice and we wish the labor party during the national conference next year to adopt a resolutions reflecting of the various state conferences, hoping they will come before too long when we can all celebrate a just solution for the Palestinian question.
Senator Lee Rhiannon asserted her commitment to justice for Palestine and urged the audience to raise their voice louder, for there is so much can be done in this country to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
Hon Bob Carr focused in his speech on important three words; Believing in the two-state solution is about three words, these are occupation, settlements, and cruelty. Firstly; an occupation and the human’s attitude towards it, secondly; it is about the spread of settlements that is making the two-state solution impossible, and thirdly: it is about the cruelty with which that occupation has been brought. These emphasised three words are expressing our solidarity with Palestine.
H.E.Afif Safieh gave a highly effective speech; In his own words: “Palestinians are the global tribes. It is the symbol of our tragedy but at the same time becomes the future of constructive empowerment.”
H. E. Afif spoke about success stories in Chile where there are more than a dozen members of parliament and at least three Cabinet Ministers are of Palestinian origin. Here is some quotes of an extract of his speech: “We Palestinians are the victims of the victims of European history where our tragedy of Nakba that occurred in the Western world’s approval….today we have a comfortable majority within western public opinion and our challenge is how to translate this sociological majority of public opinion in the political sphere….therefore we Palestinians should show more cohesion in the battles to come and we are proud to have such quality supporters in our oz country and within the concept of multiculturalism, for it is possible today to cultivate and preserve one’s identity and to further our integration at the same time, for we love our country of adoption as much as we love our country of origin.”Afif invited the audience for the political struggles to come, for the history is undecided, and therefore to help history to make the right choice, in his opinion the optimist makes history, unlike the pessimist. He believes that International ‘will’ has to prevail on the national ‘will’ and Palestinians have an enormous reservoir of’ will’. Palestinians have been unreasonably reasonable in accepting with a great difficulty a state on just 22% of Palestine, to accept a solution of 22% which is considered their right and totally within the international law, even that seems to be unachievable, why? Therefore Afif is hoping that he can be an incentive and an encouragement for Australia to play that role. “In our interdependent globalised world we should know how to play political power on the diplomatic sphere, we should help history make the right choice collectively and individually and should learn how to exercise influence and power on the political sphere.”
Hon. Shayne Mallard MLC said that he is a supporter of the two-state solution and stated that; one of the greatest values that we all appreciate in Australia is the way our multicultural nation provides for individual freedoms for culture, languages, and religions to flourish. In New South Wales at the last Census, there were 8,259 residents who claimed Palestinian descent, and 1,600 people who were born in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. It is delightful that Australia can provide a safe haven for those who have been stateless for decades, and Palestinian Australians have made many contributions to our lives here in New South Wales and have worked hard to preserve traditional culture, heritage, and traditions.
H.E.Izzat Abdulhadi spoke of his trip to Palestine led by Bill Shorten, meeting with the Prime Minister and labor party in regards of two-state-solution and recognising Palestine, and then he urged everyone to be optimistic and to put the issue of Palestine in the center of the agenda. This determination of Palestinian people in the establishment of a Palestinian state is not subjected to negotiation for it is the right by international law. It is time now for Australia to recognise Palestine and to provide hope for Palestinian people. According to 2016 census we have in Sydney twelve thousand Palestinians. Therefore it is time now to establish a Palestinian community that can be efficient to share the policy of the Australian Government. Through democracy, unity, education, and achievements we have qualified people who can talk to Parliamentarians about our own thoughts. The ambassador ended his talk by saying: “I have started already a process in establishing a board focusing on youth and women, our own women are very clever and smart and deserve to be in leadership.”
The ceremony ended with the presentation of refreshments, and on behalf of the Premier, the Palestinian toast was presented by the Hon Shane Mallard MP MLC, and the Australian toast by the ambassador of Palestine H. E. Dr. Izzet Abdel Hadi, wishing all a very happy Palestinian National Day.