ATTEMPTS by pro-Palestinian activists to muscle in on the campaign to change the date of Australia Day have been condemned by the Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC).
The controversy arose when Crikey published a January 25 article entitled “How Australia Day echoes the 1948 exodus of Palestine” in which writer Randa Abdel-Fattah stated, “It is little wonder that our government is so quick to emphasise Australia’s shared values with Israel”.
“We do indeed share a settler colonial identity. For this reason, I want my children to appreciate that Palestine is inside Indigenous Australia, and Indigenous Australia is inside Palestine.
“When Indigenous Australians protest the celebration of their own first (of many and ongoing) Naqbas – Invasion Day – I offer my solidarity,” she wrote.
The article coincided with a YouTube video attempting to equate Australia Day celebrations with Israel’s founding.
Titled Invasion Day, it incorrectly claims January 26 celebrates “the arrival of Captain Cook” (it actually marks the arrival of Captain Arthur Phillip on the First Fleet in 1788, 18 years after Cook sighted Australia).
The narrators proclaim Australia Day as “the day of Naqba (catastrophe) for Indigenous people … just as Palestinians call Israel’s Independence Day ‘The Catastrophe’.”
Meanwhile, Palestinian-born author and playwright Samah Sabawi posted a poem on Facebook earlier this month, which she said she had recited in Adelaide and which began, “I would like to acknowledge the original owners of the land on which I stand, And the original owners of the land where I come from,” and concluded with the lines, “I would like to acknowledge that I come from colonised land, And I stand on colonised land, And to pay my respect to freedom fighters past and present, Palestine will be free, And this land will always be Aboriginal”.
ADC chair Dvir Abramovich said, “Linking the issues surrounding Australia Day to the Palestinian cause represents a new low. Anyone with a slight knowledge of history would know that there is no rational analogy between the Palestinians’ situation to that of Indigenous Australians, and that the two issues are of a completely different character.
“The Indigenous struggle and narrative is far too important to be cynically exploited in the promotion of any campaign, especially one that demonises and delegitimises Israel, and which has the potential to sow division between the Aboriginal and Jewish community,” he said.