NSW Teachers Federation Executive Statement on Middle East Conflict

All wars are fought against children

Federation is deeply saddened and concerned at the level of human suffering and pain being experienced by communities in Israel and Palestine, and naturally, by their loved ones across the world.

We reiterate our strong opposition to all violence as well as racism, including antisemitism, in all its forms.

We join with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) in condemning the recent attacks on civilians by Hamas and Israel, with thousands of deaths already recorded on each side of the border, many more injured and others continuing to be held as hostages. (Israel Palestine – International Trade Union Confederation (ituc-csi.org)

Consistent with the position stated by UN appointed independent rights experts “there is no justification for violence that indiscriminately targets innocent civilians, whether by Hamas or Israeli forces,” Federation condemns any state, organisation or military force that attacks civilian targets.

While the attacks perpetrated by Hamas deserve international condemnation, the actions of the Israeli Government cannot be justified in any way.

Israel’s air offensive over multiple days and total blockade of the Occupied Gaza strip demonstrates its continued indifference to the plight of civilians and innocents in Palestine, including children.

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, since October 7 Israeli airstrikes have killed at least 2,670 Palestinians with 9,600 more wounded. Over 1,000 people are estimated to be missing under the rubble. Among the thousands killed by the Israeli attacks so far are more than 700 Palestinian children. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) estimates more than 423,000 people have already been internally displaced in Gaza due to Israeli’s indiscriminate military strikes.

Many of those with nowhere to go are children. Humanitarian aid has been barred to enter into Gaza and Israel has ensured that there is no more water, food, medicine, or access to power coming in.

Federation has particular concern for the children of occupied Gaza who continue to be subjected to collective punishment and constant militarised coercion. As recently as July 2023 Federation’s Annual Conference passed a resolution that stated in relation to the children of Gaza: “Their human rights, including their right to education, continue to be attacked by the expansionist Israeli state and their illegal occupation of Palestinian territories.”

Federation supports Education International’s call on the international community to do their utmost to stop the bloodshed and avoid any further deepening of this humanitarian crisis. (Joint EI-ETUCE Statement on Israel and Palestine (ei-ie.org)

Whilst there have been limited calls by the Australian government for the parties to exercise restraint, we are appalled by the lack of leadership both here and internationally for failing to call out atrocities committed by Israel, having rightly condemned Hamas for its actions, and to call for an unconditional ceasefire. Calling for safe passage for humanitarian aid via the Egyptian border goes nowhere near far enough.

The ongoing violence in Israel and Palestine must be ceased immediately and the international community must commence the work necessary to address its root cause: the unjust and illegal occupation of Palestine.

Right to protest and peaceful assembly

Federation expresses its deep concern at the NSW government’s approach to the current crisis; with its decision-making and public commentary mostly having the effect of unnecessarily fanning the anger and profound sadness of Palestinian communities here in Australia.

Racism including antisemitism has no place here or anywhere, but peaceful assembly and peaceful protest and the expression of solidarity must never be restricted by the state.  

Union Aid Abroad APHEDA Gaza Emergency Appeal

The Federation’s affiliated body, Union Aid Abroad APHEDA, has launched a Gaza Emergency Appeal in conjunction with their partner organisation MA’AN Development Center, who will work with local organisations in Gaza to provide access to water, food, medical supplies and shelter; psychosocial support for families and individuals; and dignity and hygiene kits for displaced people. All members are encouraged to donate to this appeal.

UPDATE – 8 November

How many more children?

Federation maintains its condemnation of all forms of attack on civilians by Israel and Hamas.

Federation continues to be horrified by the ongoing killing of civilians in Gaza including more than 4237 children, perpetrated by the state of Israel.

Federation shares the “deep frustration” of UN human rights experts with Israel’s refusal to halt plans to decimate the besieged Gaza strip.

The 2 November statement by UN human rights experts says: Time is running out to prevent genocide and humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza”.

This cannot go on.

It is time for the Albanese government to urgently and publicly support the call by UN human rights experts for an immediate ceasefire, access to humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip and the release of all civilians being held captive by either side.

Protest for Gaza: Stop the genocide!

UPDATE – 22 April, 2024

ACTU Statement on Gaza

Media Release – April 22, 2024

The Australian Union movement is a movement of peace and respect for all races and nationalities. We oppose war, racism, and oppression. We act in solidarity.

The Australian Union movement is horrified by the escalating violence and death toll of civilians in Gaza. The ACTU reiterates its statements and resolution of 19 October 2023 and 23 February 2024 and continues to call for an urgent and permanent ceasefire and the release of hostages and political prisoners.

The Australian Union movement is a movement of many cultures, communities, nationalities and faiths, we call on all community, civil society organisations and faith groups in Australia to build unity, oppose racism and promote cultural harmony and tolerance throughout their membership. 

We condemn the deaths of over 34,000 civilians since 7 October including (1200 Israelis and over 33,000 Palestinians). We condemn the killing of Zomi Frankcom and other aid workers, including those working for Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA partner MA’AN development centre who have been working on emergency relief in Gaza.

The situation facing people in Gaza is dire: two million people are facing food insecurity. Food shortages have exceeded famine levels and mass death is imminent. The ACTU condemns the use of starvation as a weapon of war and urges Israel to comply with the International Court of Justice’s Order to take immediate steps to prevent acts of genocide, punish incitement to genocide, and facilitate the provision of basic services and humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in Gaza. Israel must immediately provide food and essentials to people in Gaza and ensure unimpeded access for humanitarian aid.

The ACTU welcomes the Australian Government reinstating funding to UNRWA, appointing a special advisor to assess the IDF investigation of the killing of Zomi Frankcom, and calling for a two state solution.

The ACTU is deeply concerned, however, at evidence that Australia companies supply parts used as part of global supply chains , including to F-35 fighter jets. Israel utilises F-35 fighter jets to drop bombs on Gaza. Under international law, Australia has obligations to deny exports that could or would be used to violate humanitarian law and must employ all means to prevent genocide by another state. The Australian Government must take active steps to ensure it is not contributing to breaches of international law.

The ACTU calls on the Australian Government to take immediate steps to secure peace by:

  • Using all influence, pressure, and diplomatic measures to achieve a permanent ceasefire.
  • Ending all military trade with Israel
  • Enacting targeted sanctions on Israeli officials who have called for the denial of aid, and military and civil servants denying essential food and materials to civilians of Gaza.
  • Committing additional funding of $100 million in humanitarian assistance to Gaza and the West Bank

This latest escalation is part of a decades-long conflict that must be brought to a just outcome through dialogue and respect for international law, including human rights.

The ACTU calls on the Israeli Government and the Palestinian leadership to promote open, tolerant and respectful societies through adherence to democratic principles in governance, respect for human rights and equal treatment for all.

The ACTU calls for an end to the occupation of Palestine and a just and sustainable peace in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions. Including the removal of illegal settlements, the withdrawal of Israel from all Palestinian lands along with the dismantling of the separation wall. In line with the ACTU’s commitment to a two-state solution with the security of borders for both nations, we call on all countries to recognise, without delay, Palestine as a sovereign state with East Jerusalem as its capital. This will confirm the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination in a free and independent Palestine.

UPDATE – 6 May, 2024

Global Student Forum and Education International joint statement on Palestine protests on university campuses

EI statement – 6 May 2024

The Global Student Forum and Education International stand in solidarity with university students and staff engaging in peaceful protests in support of the Palestinian people and against Israel’s war in Gaza, on campuses around the world.

By taking part in peaceful protests in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, India, Lebanon, Canada, and beyond, students and members of the academic community are exercising their freedom of expression and their freedom of assembly.

We are appalled to witness their peaceful dissent met with violence and removed by police forces invited onto campuses in certain cases. Universities are places of peace, learning, and debate. Violent repression and censorship go against the core values of higher education and must stop immediately.

We call on the leadership of all universities to protect the fundamental rights and civil liberties of all students and staff, including their freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and academic freedom.

We reiterate our strong condemnation of any form of Antisemitism and Islamophobia and restate our call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the release of all hostages, unrestricted access to humanitarian aid, and commitment to building lasting peace in the region.