Contributed by Adam Carlton
Gordon Bradbery is mayor of Wollongong. He spoke at a rally in his town of supporters of the Palestinians facing Israels’ war on Gaza, where anywhere between 3,000 to 7,000 have died, depending on which reports you go by. Many more have been injured and displaced.
He has since copped a load of flak from the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and other pro-Zionist organisations. They claim what he said at the rally is anti-Jewish.
What he said is that the attack “didn’t happen in a vacuum,” and “I know why Hamas did what they did.” He also said this. When you treat people like animals, you push them in a confined space, you get that reaction. You have to fight your way out.”
Bradbery was careful to point out that he didn’t support what Hamas had done, and he repeated this in an interview with the ABC.
Photo from the South Coast Register: A view of the Wollongong march in support of the Gaza Palestinians on 22 October
Ignoring this, his detractors have tried to doctor his comments to promote the idea that criticism of Israel is by definition antisemitic. Why do this? To shut down all opinion that doesn’t agree with the Israeli government and military. This is why. And they are beginning to lose the battle of public opinion.
The zealotry to shut down contrary opinion lies in the Zionist ideology and colonial history. Zionism first emerged in central and eastern Europe in the nineteenth century a movement for a Jewish homeland and self-determination. But it also utilised the concept of racial segregation and became a tool of the colonial powers against the Ottoman empire rival.
Today, the association between Zionism and the old colonial powers, joined by the United States in the twentieth century, remains a critical part of the backdrop behind the current Israel-Hamas war, as it is a critical backdrop behind the association between Zionism in Australia and the Australian political establishment.
The conflict is really one between the alliance between Israel and the former colonial powers seeking to maintain a regional foothold, and the Palestinian people fighting for their liberation from occupation and for self-determination.
The other critical factor is that Palestinians have been treated brutally, regarded as less than human, deprived, imprisoned, robbed of dignity. The murder of Palestinian civilians, detention without trial, torture, starvation, the killing of their children, has been treated as inconsequential. Zionist ideology, at least that brand of it in ascendence today, accepts that this is alright.
Resistance is branded terrorism. And any sympathy for the Palestinian plight is called support of terrorism.
When Gordon Bradbery referred to this backdrop, and that because of it and the failure to address wrongs, there are consequences. But he nor anyone else are allowed to talk about this.
Zionism is acting to restrict freedom of speech and to weaponize this for the pursuit of war and the extermination of what it sees as the Palestinian problem. In doing this, Zionism services the geopolitical ambitions of the western powers in the Middle East. And this is an attack on free speech in Australia and our own independent status as a nation.
The attack on Gordon Bradbury is not the first and won’t be the last to come from this quarter. This is all the more reason why it should be repudiated.