THE world seems even more riven by conflict than usual at the moment, given the recent racist attacks over the Development Application for a mosque in Bendigo, the Parramatta shooting, the widening Syrian civil war, and the escalation of violence in Israeli occupied Palestine.
Here in Australia last week it was therefore pleasing to see, in the face of vitriolic anti-Muslim attacks, A National Day of Unity.
At Parliament House, it was marked by a morning tea, at which Prime Minister Turnbull called on Australians of all faiths to stand united, declaring that the country will answer the threat of terrorism by "being strong and resolute in our unity".
"We must encourage and educate our communities in the attitudes of mutual respect, understanding and acceptance of one another," Lebanese Muslim Association president Samier Dandan said.
Mr Turnbull was joined by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Greens Leader Richard Di Natale at the morning tea.
"This nation can only succeed when we work together," Mr Shorten said.
Mr Di Natale called on the Turnbull government and the Labor Party to invest in social cohesion and resist the urge to ramp up fear and anxiety with yet more divisive anti-terror legislation.
He said “Let’s recognise that prevention is the way we build a unified and harmonious nation. We must resist counterproductive responses, like arbitrarily detaining young people. Instead we must look at why young people are being caught up in some of these acts of extremism: the social isolation, the disconnection, the marginalisation that exists amongst some of our young people.”
The ramping up of the Syrian civil war with Russian intervention highlights more than ever that the only solution is a political one.
We must resist calls for us to send in ground troops, for that will only inflame an already messy situation. And lest anyone think a military solution is the answer, I ask them to think of how that turned out in Afghanistan and Iraq, which of course gave birth to ISIS. Let’s not pour yet more oil on the fire.
At the time of writing the violence in Israeli Occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank seems to escalate by the day. This too needs a political solution, though here one has been on the cards since the Oslo Accords of 1993, if only the Israeli government would keep its side of that bargain.
Indeed, the many provocations that gave rise to the current crisis, including the invasion of the Harem al-Sharif (the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque) by religious nationalists led by Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel to “assert Jewish Sovereignty” over the site, were entirely Israeli sponsored.
The recent retaliatory attacks on Israelis in the occupied territories are of course regretful, but such violence is a direct result of the structural violence of the colonisation and dispossession associated with Israel’s 48-year occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
The Australian government should use its influence to calm the situation by calling upon Israel to refrain from all further provocations and to immediately halt the use of live ammunition against Palestinian protestors, restore Palestinian access to Jerusalem’s Old City and the Harem al-Sharif, prosecute Jewish extremists who attack Palestinians, cease the demolition of Palestinian homes, and work towards an end of the occupation by actively supporting the establishment of a viable and independent Palestinian state.
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