Video & text of Peter Slezak’s speech at Sydney rally

Transcript is below:


The Commissioner-General of the UN has said recently:

“The world has failed the people of Gaza and the people of Palestine.”

And the front page of The Guardian newspaper last week carried a,


Some more than others:

I’m here today because the State of Israel does not represent all Jews.

I am one among many Jews around the world who are horrified and deeply shamed by what the Jewish State, is doing in our name.

I am proud to stand in solidarity with you, with the people of Gaza and the Palestinians as a whole.

We are supposed to have learned a lesson from our own history – to stand up and speak out for the victims, not to make excuses for the perpetrators.

The most important lesson of the Holocaust is that ordinary, otherwise decent people watched it happen and did nothing.

And the lesson of the Holocaust has been “NEVER AGAIN” – but this means NEVER AGAIN – TO ANYONE.

Tragically, not for the first time, we are witnessing, not a war, but a large scale atrocity and barbarity … on the people of Gaza by Israel.

Last time in 2009, the famous Israeli, former member of their parliament, the Knesset, Uri Avnery condemned the military assault as “inhuman” and “abominable.” This time it’s even worse.

The only human response is the one we saw by that UN official on television who broke down sobbing.

But why are so many others incapable of responding with same humanity?

Even blaming the Palestinians for their own tragic deaths.

This is an obscenity and a loss of ordinary human decency.


In rallying today and for three weeks, we join hundreds of thousands of decent people in cities around the world to express our humanity.

But each of these rallies have been described as hate-filled and anti-Semitic.

I want to re-affirm what speakers have said in previous weeks, it is not  ANTI-Jewish to be critical of Israel. It is FOR humanity.

Most of my family were victims of anti-Semitism – exterminated in the Nazi Holocaust. My parents were both survivors. My 89 year old mother is a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

So, I think I can recognize anti-Semitism when I see it and I don’t see any anti-Semitism here.

If you are here today, you know the facts.

But we are here because so many do not know the facts.

– 67 years since the ethnic cleansing of the 1948 Nakba

– 47 years of brutal occupation

– 7 years of collective punishment of Gaza through the crippling, illegal blockade.

We hear constantly about

– Israeli defending itself

– rockets, … tunnels, … terrorists.

– targeted, pinpoint, surgical attacks.

– human shields, crossfire

I teach philosophy at the university, and so I like to use precise technical language to describe all this:

It’s all BULLSHIT!

There are NO ROCKETS or TUNNELS in the West Bank and yet they have been arresting hundreds and killing 2 children each week  – that’s 1400 since the year 2000.

We must counter the barrage of lies that prevents so many other people from understanding what is going on and reacting to it as human beings.

But we have a weapon that is ultimately more powerful than the well-funded propaganda machine of the Israel Lobby and its apologists and mouthpieces in our media and politics:

We have compassion, we have a sense of justice, and we have the truth.

We can make a difference.

Dozens of experts and professors of International law have just issued a statement condemning the deliberate terror by Israel which they say is “unequivocally illegal under international law”.

They have declared Israel a “Terror State”

We must not forget that in Beirut 1982 Israel killed 17,000 people – mostly civilian.

Based on this slaughter, these legal experts refer to what is known as Israel’s Dahiya doctrine  – a deliberate, explicit strategy to use disproportionate force to inflict suffering on the civilian population in order to achieve political rather than military goals.

But you don’t need to be an expert in international law to understand what is going on.

The numbers speak for themselves. You can’t destroy entire residential district unless its deliberate, criminal targeting of innocent civilians.

We have seen the pictures of entire districts like Shujai’ya reduced to rubble.

If the devastation and the harrowing scenes were in Europe, or Sydney or Tel Aviv, the US and the world would intervene immediately.

This is not a war. There are no Palestinian tanks in Tel-Aviv. There are no Palestinian F-16 jet fighters and there are no Apache helicopters.

This is not a war, but an atrocity and a barbarity.

Why is there silence and inaction from US leaders and our own leaders?

Where is Tony Abbot? Where is Bill Shorten?


We only hear about Israel’s right to defend itself.
What about the right of Palestinians to defend themselves?

The talk of “existential threat” to Israel from the Palestinians is delusional.

But, it is also extremely dangerous because it justifies quite open, calls for genocidal terror on Palestinians – by members of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset

–  For example Deputy Speaker  of the Israeli Knesset, Moshe Feiglin.

–  And Member of the Knesset Ayalet Shaked called for the rape and murder of Palestinian mothers so they won’t give birth to “little snakes.”

– A recent editorial of the Times of Israel wrote:

“Nothing, then, can be considered disproportionate when we are fighting for our very right to live.”

“the standard rules of warfare must be suspended.”

“If political leaders and military experts determine that the only way to achieve its goal of sustaining quiet is through genocide is it then permissible to achieve those responsible goals?”


Israel has not been held to account in the past.

We must act to end Israel’s impunity.

So, we must do what we can to make sure that we do not have to rally here again every few years like this, as we did – in 2009 and 2012.


(1)  There are valuable symbolic actions we can take: Two English towns – Bradford and Preston – are flying the Palestinian flag on their Town Hall.  How about it Mayor Clover Moore?


(2)  There can be no peace without justice. We must press our politicians and media to bring Israeli officials before the INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT (ICC).


(3)  B-D-S!  – That’s the acronym for Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions against Israel – until they end the occupation and Palestine is free.


One comment

  1. Pingback: Peter Slezak – Denouncing Israeli Violence is Not Anti-Semitism: Reply to Alex Ryvchin | Independent Australian Jewish Voices

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