Labor Ministers Grizzle Over Spray Painted Offices, as Sea of Palestinian Blood Is Spilt

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Labor Ministers

Mindless acts of vandalism have always been frowned on in the community. The destruction of private or public property for a quick thrill can cause untold financial and psychological harm to the often randomly resulting victim/s of such crimes, while it too can make the public feel unsafe.

But the series of defacing attacks on the offices of Labor MPs over recent weeks have been pointed, as these escalated acts of protest have been motivated by the desire to end Albanese government support of Israel’s wanton mass murder of Gaza’s Palestinians, that now numbers over 37,000 dead.

And so, rather than horror, the imagery taken of these incidents has brought relief – if not momentary elation – from the extreme helplessness those opposed to the “plausible” genocide in Gaza have been subjected to, in the understanding that our government is supporting the killing.

Indeed, compared to the 31 October 2023 dropping of a 2,000-pound bomb on Gaza’s Jabalia refugee camp, then one of the most densely populated places on Earth, the spray painting of NSW premier Chris Minns’ Kogarah office was not only nonviolent, but it was an act of healing for some.

These office defacements began after Israel commenced its assault on the 1.5 million starving Gazans in Rafah, and rather than pay heed to them, PM Albanese has falsely blamed the actions on the Greens, while ignoring those constituents involved and thus, silencing them and their message.

Deflecting ALP complicity

“The hypocrisy is blazing,” Disrupt Wars spokesperson Caroline Da Silva told Sydney Criminal Lawyers. “The ALP has railed against the ‘violence’ of graffiti and heckling, while supplying weapons to a rogue state actively committing the worst of all crimes: genocide.”

“Hundreds of thousands of us have marched for 35 consecutive weeks to demand the ALP impose a two-way arms embargo on Israel and apply sanctions to the apartheid state,” she continued.

“Calling for a ceasefire while materially supporting a genocide is a lot like calling for climate action while subsidising coal mines.”

And the Disrupt Wars organiser considers that Labor’s “lost its moral compass”, as it’s continuing to ignore its “bread and butter voters” – teachers, tradies, nurses, public servants and media workers – as they’ve been out there marching and petitioning for eight months on end to no avail.

Albanese told the lower house on 5 June that his government had voted for a ceasefire in the UN months ago, as if that proved it wasn’t supporting Israel’s operations, and he then blamed the office protests on misinformation “being consciously and deliberately spread by some of the Greens”.

And Da Silva made the case that “the federal Labor government then added insult to injury, dismissing the mass movement for Palestine as ignorant, and ranting about our ‘violence’ before erasing all our voices with a woeful attempt at misdirection targeting the Greens.”

Inconvenient truths are misinformation

Accusing the Greens of spreading misinformation is a tactic foreign minister Penny Wong has repeatedly employed to deflect questions from Greens Senator David Shoebridge regarding data on the DFAT website listing figures for ongoing arms and ammunition exports to Israel since October.

During 3 June Senate estimates, Wong then charged Greens Senator Jordan Steele-John and his party of engaging in “double standards” via they’re participation “in violent and aggressive protest” and further inciting such demonstrations, while claiming to be acting in the name of peace.

“No one is buying the spin that a few cans of paint are more dangerous than the munitions manufactured in Benalla and Mulwala, the killer drones made by Boeing or the Bushmaster weaponised vehicles made by Thales in Bendigo,” Da Silva continued.

And as her raising of the Bushmaster hints, the Albanese government’s ongoing support for the Gaza genocide may be its most deplorable military act at present, but it also took part in the bipartisan gifting of 15 Bushmasters to Indonesia: a nation busily oppressing the West Papuans.

Indeed, Albanese signed onto the Coalition-brokered AUKUS submarine deal with the US with gusto in March 2023, and has since permitted Washington to escalate its military colonisation of this continent, as well as overseeing a rapid top down militarisation of the nation like never before.

“The clear understanding imparted by Labor’s actions is that their commitment to boost the weapons industry to the tune of thirty billion in a year,” Da Silva added, “far outweighs any residual sense of responsibility they may feel towards their constituents”.

Gaslighting the constituency

Obviously, former PM Scott Morrison and the Coalition were in awe of US president Trump, and the levels of mistruth and disinformation Trumpian politicking employs to its own end. But little did we know that Albanese and Wong were going to apply it with much more precision than the Liberals.

“Violence is a little girl with her scalp torn off,” Da Silva clarified for Labor MPs hung up on spray paint. “It is a baby, with a perfect, cherubic face and sweet tiny hands, but with half her torso ripped out. It is a child in a car calling for help that never comes because the ambulance is hit by drones.”

Pro-Palestinian protesters, like Da Silva, would be upset by the senseless violence they’ve borne witness to day-in day-out in Gaza regardless of Albanese’s support. But the fact that the Labor government and local weapons industry are complicit is compounding the community’s anguish.

Labor is inflicting psychic harm on us all in making us complicit in the genocide. And this collective trauma it’s putting the constituency through, is much worse than any suffered by attorney general Mark Dreyfus or Minns or Victorian deputy premier Ben Carroll on having their offices defaced.

“The most recent violence is the bombing of a marketplace that left over 270 dead and a thousand maimed bodies,” the Disrupt Wars spokesperson continued, referring to the recent hostage rescue that saw Israeli forces use the US humanitarian aid port to launch an attack on a refugee camp.

“This is the violence we are protesting,” Da Silva added. “This is the violence the ALP is enabling through material and diplomatic support for Israel.”

Disrupting war

Ascertaining exactly where and how the Australian government is permitting the continuing two-way trade in arms with Israel has been difficult to uncover. Although early on, human rights lawyer Kellie Tranter revealed that key parts of F-35 jets used to drop bombs on Gaza are made here.

When Shoebridge brought this up with a Defence official during estimates last week, he was told it was “immaterial” as to whether these parts were being used to kill Palestinian kids.

And when asked about the $917 million contract the government entered into with Israel’s largest weapons manufacturer in February, Albanese decided to address the DFAT statistics around arms and ammunition, when that was not the question Greens MP Max Chandler-Mather had put to him.

“We are dismayed. We are grief stricken and we are furious,” Da Silva continued. “In the absence of a humane response to the livestreamed genocide we are still watching, after 35 weeks, a bit of heckling and graffiti seems a very mild escalation.”

The Free Palestine movement that has emerged locally and globally, a movement that has shocked many by its immediate mass mobilisation and duration of stay, has marked a grassroots shift on the part of the constituency that has continued to grow despite attempts to demonise and criminalise it.

Politicians, journalists and civilians in general, who have risen to voice their opposition to the gravest atrocity since World War II, have been warned to stay in their lane and not make foreign conflicts a domestic issue, when those doing the warning are showing unbridled support for Tel Aviv.

The A15 protests held on 15 April across this continent and around the planet were a purposeful escalation as the mass protests have been ignored and demonised. And the attacks on MPs offices mark another heightening of the tactics antigenocide protesters are now willing to take.

Pro-Palestinian activists are now trying different methods of intensified direct action and they’re swapping notes about it to ascertain what’s most effective.

“We are united for a single goal, to free Palestine from genocidal violence, and we will not be divided or pitted against each other by a government intent on ignoring us,” Da Silva further warned.

“To quote Dr Martin Luther King, ‘riot is the language of the unheard’,” the peace activist ominously said in conclusion.

“We are all wondering what language we need to speak for the ALP to hear us?”

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Paul Gregoire

Paul Gregoire is a Sydney-based journalist and writer. He's the winner of the 2021 NSW Council for Civil Liberties Award For Excellence In Civil Liberties Journalism. Prior to Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, Paul wrote for VICE and was the news editor at Sydney’s City Hub.

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