By Susan Price

Dr Stuart Rees AM, Professor Emeritus, University of Sydney: I write in support of the invitation to the Palestinian activist refugee Leila Khaled to speak at a significant Ecosocialism 2024 Conference in Perth in June this year.

I am aware of the well-organised, predictable opposition to Ms Khaled being allowed to speak let alone be present in Australia, on the grounds that she had been responsible for acts of violence to protest her people's rights to self-determination. Those acts occurred over 50 years ago, Leila Khaled is now 79 yet is to be censored by commentators with little or no experience of the people whose lives this significant woman represents, in refugee camps, in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and at a time when Palestinians are being slaughtered and starved to death by Israeli forces.

So, Australian officialdom wants to stop this Palestinian from speaking at a well organised conference in free speech Australia? Really?

There is one other major issue which should surely encourage consistency in the way Leila's application to come to Australia is treated.

I have just examined and published Israel's record as a Terrorist state, beginning in 1948 with the slaughter by terrorist gangs, such as Stern and Irgun, of thousands of young men and women, a death and destruction campaign which has continued for decades. The leaders of those terrorist gangs became Prime Ministers of Israel - Yitzhak Shamir and Menachem Begin.

In respect of history plus cherished values of freedom of speech and as a principled stand against those who, once again want to stifle a Palestinian story, I would welcome the chance to hear Leila Khaled in Australia and trust that she will be welcomed here, the invitation to her proudly restored.

Em Prof Stuart Rees AM