By Susan Price

The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network stands in support of Palestinian refugee activist, Leila Khaled’s, participation in the Ecosocialism 2024 Conference in Perth in June this year.

In the context of the plausible genocide in Gaza, it is essential to hear the voices of important historical figures. Khaled was the face of the Palestinian rebellion in the 1960s when she led the hijacking of two aircraft to protest the withholding of Palestinian rights to self-determination.

There is well-organised opposition to Khaled being allowed to speak on the grounds that she had been responsible for acts of violence even though those acts occurred more than 50 years ago.

Israel has inflicted far greater suffering daily in Gaza and, weekly, in the West Bank since then, let alone its annihilation of Gaza during the past five months. Israel’s record of disproportionate violence against Palestinians dwarfs any damage done by young Leila Khaled’s protest in the 1960s.

There is a further inconsistency. Israel, to whom Australia is a great friend, has had as its Prime Ministers (Shamir and Begin) leaders of Jewish terrorist gangs, the Stern Gang and Irgun, which slaughtered thousands of young men and women, leading to the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

Requests to deny Khaled a visa reflects rank hypocrisy. No passengers or crew died during either of the hijacks in which Khaled was involved. On the other hand, Doron Almog, who has been accused of war crimes resulting from his time as General Officer Commanding of the Israeli military’s Southern Command, was issued an Australian visa to enable him to undertake a speaking tour in Australia to raise funds for the United Israel Appeal. Almog is alleged to have been involved in the murder of Palestinian civilians, including three boys and a pregnant woman, and the razing of 59 homes in Rafah and narrowly evaded arrest in the UK for his crimes.

Denying Khaled’s visa is yet another example of anti-Palestinian racism and the suppression of the Palestinian story; we must stand up against racist pressure to silence Palestinian voices.

Nasser Mashni is President of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network.

Nasser Mashni is President of the Australian Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN)