The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) and its member societies raises strong objection against the prevailing narratives surrounding the Israel-Palestine conflict, emphasising the need for a more accurate, nuanced, and humane portrayal in both media and political discourse.
First and foremost, we believe that all life is sacred, and the loss of any life should not be tolerated.
However, ‘The current discourse, steeped in misrepresentations, labels the Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation as ‘terrorism.’ “This label is not only unjust but dangerously misleading,” stated Dr. Rateb Jneid, President of AFIC. “It erases the context of a people’s struggle against dispossession and military occupation, branding their desperation and resistance as an act of unprovoked aggression.”
The portrayal of the conflict as a battle between equals is a gross mischaracterisation. Israel, bolstered by significant global powers, possesses one of the world’s most formidable military machines. In stark contrast, the Palestinians, armed with limited resources, face monumental disparities in armament, support, and international diplomatic leverage.
At the heart of this protracted turmoil is the undeniable reality of the Palestinians’ illegal dispossession. For over seven decades, international laws and countless UN resolutions have been disregarded. “Palestinians have lived a reality of persistent denial,” states Dr. Jneid. “Denied sovereignty, denied justice, and denied the basic human right to defend their existence.”
The human cost of the conflict has been staggering, disproportionally borne by the Palestinian people. Statistics paint a horrifying picture – thousands of Palestinians killed, a significant number being innocent children, and tens of thousands wounded compared to a much smaller number of Israeli casualties. Each of these numbers represents a human life, snuffed out or altered irrevocably in a struggle that shows no sign of abating. Since 2008 alone more than 6,400 Palestinians have been killed and over 150,000 injured in this illegal occupation by Israel. Of these nearly 1500 children have been killed and over 32,000 injured.
Amidst the cacophony of political posturing, what is egregiously absent is the acknowledgment of Palestinian humanity, the language employed in certain media and political circles serves to dehumanise, casting Palestinians and their existential struggle in a light devoid of empathy, bereft of understanding.”
In Gaza, the situation has reached catastrophic levels. The blockade, effectively turning the area into an open-air prison, has deprived over two million inhabitants of basic necessities – clean water, consistent electricity supply, adequate medical care, and the freedom of movement. These conditions, coupled with systematic economic stifling, have created an untenable human rights crisis that has been going now for over 15 years.
Additionally, Israel’s continual defiance of international calls to halt illegal settlements and annexations of Palestinian territory further entrenches the crisis. The number of illegal settlers on Palestinian land, flagrantly violating numerous UN resolutions, has surged past half a million.
The plight of Palestinian refugees is a stark testament to the escalating crisis, now numbering approximately 5.9 million globally. These individuals and families represent generations of displacement, bearing stories of both historical and ongoing dispossession. They live with the indelible scars of loss — of their homes, lands, and normalcy.
Most significantly, they face the continued denial of their internationally recognized Right of Return, as stipulated in the UN General Assembly Resolution 194.
The state of Israel, in contradiction to international law, persists in its refusal to acknowledge this right, placing stringent, insurmountable barriers that prevent these refugees from returning to their homes. This perpetual state of exile is a stark reminder of the systematic injustices perpetrated against an entire populace, underpinning the urgency for the global community to address their plight with the seriousness it warrants.
In light of these realities, AFIC urgently calls on the Australian Government to realign its stance and take actions reflective of true justice and peacekeeping. We call on the Australian Government to:
- Abandon the one-dimensional ‘terrorist’ label that oversimplifies the complex dynamics of Palestinian resistance.
- Advocate strongly for the deployment of an international peacekeeping force to ensure adherence to UN resolutions, international laws, and the safeguarding of civilian lives
- Acknowledge and advocate for the recognised right of peoples to resist occupation and to have their right to self-determination and human rights.
- Demand an immediate cessation of all military actions, from all actors, particularly those striking civilian centres. The protection of innocent lives must be paramount.
- To immediately facilitate the presence of independent observers into Gaza and Israel to report events in factual way.
“It’s all Member States who have obligations…not just those in the region” to defuse the worst Israeli-Palestinian conflagration in decades,” Martin Griffiths Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.
AFIC implores all communities to engage with this issue not as distant spectators, but as humane responders to a fellow human crisis. Only with understanding, empathy, and active engagement can there be any hope for a just resolution. Australia has an international obligation to protect lives, human rights and to prevent genocide, and it must have the courage to act.
Dr Rateb Jneid President