Jad Abu Alsendyan. Photo: Wayne Jansson

Each Sunday in Melbourne since Israel’s genocidal attack on Gaza began, thousands gather at the State Library to rally in support of Palestinians and to call for an immediate ceasefire to Israel’s bombardment.

I’ve attended five of the rallies and seen the crowd range from between 5,000 and 15,000, maybe more. Sustained large numbers since October and even in 38°C heat.

People from a kaleidoscope of backgrounds gather each week to try and keep Gaza and Palestinians in the minds of Australians.

Invasion Day in Melbourne saw Indigenous Australians and the supporters of Palestinians march together in solidarity. Since the International Court of Justice (ICC) delivered it’s Provisional Measures recognising a plausible case of genocide against Israel, South Africans have made themselves more visible.

At the conclusion of the rally at Parliament House, a smaller number of people often gather to march back to the State Library.

From a distance, the arrival of Melbournians in support of a free Palestine is announced by the beating of drums.

One of those drummers, a gentle and seemingly respected leader, is Jad Abu Alsendyan.

Abu Alsendyan runs Kunafeh House selling the traditional Palestinian dessert by the same name.

He was born in Jordan, has called Australia home for around 14 years and his grandfather, father and mother were forced out of Sarafand on occupied Palestine’s South Bank.

I had a chat to, Abu Alsendyan at the conclusion of last Sunday’s rally.


Jad Abu Alsendyan playing his drum at a recent Gaza ceasefire now rally in Melbourne
Jad Abu Alsendyan playing his drum at a recent Gaza ceasefire now rally in Melbourne. Photo: Wayne Jansson

Palestine Project (PP): Did you watch Insiders this morning?

Abu Alsendyan (AA): Yes

PP: What did you think of Albanese’s suggestion for a two state solution with a demilitarised Palestine?

AA: Unfortunately, what we’ve seen over the last three or four months on social media, from governments around all the world, you feel shame for them because they support the IDF.
Nobody can support Gaza to send food and medicine or put Israel under pressure to connect water and electricity and the internet.
This is shameful, because it’s not about Gaza or Palestine, it’s about humanity. This is against all humanity.
For decades all the governments of Europe, America, whatever, they call for humanity, they say think about humanity, they support humanity – but recently, the last three to four months we’ve seen something different, one hundred percent.

PP: How did you feel when the International Court of Justice handed down it’s provisional measures?

AA: I watched until the court announced it’s result – it’s not fair to give the IDF and Israel another chance for one month to continue the genocide.
What we saw after the court’s decision, they kept killing the people, they kept doing the genocide day after day after day.
So, what is the difference between Gaza and Ukraine?
With Ukraine they say ceasefire now, but in Gaza they give Israel more time to make more genocide on these people.
I don’t like and I don’t accept the decision of the courts.

PP: You don’t like the delay?

AA: Absolutely, why the delay?
We see everyday, we see people on social media and around the whole world calling for ceasefire, but when shown the proof [of genocide], they don’t call for an immediate ceasefire – this is shameful.

PP: South Africa’s also lodged a case at the International Criminal Court (ICC). In a very short period of time the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin, but there’s been no urgent action in relation to Israel’s leadership. How does that make you feel?

AA: What is the point of the court, if you call it an international court and they don’t act, nobody acts on the ground. What is the benefit?
It’s just delay and delay and delay.
In the end the people there are still starving, the people are still in winter, it’s very cold, no houses. People without any shelter to live in, no food, no water, no electricity, not warm, no medicine and the countries around Gaza have closed the port.
What is the point? Where is the humanity? Where’s the humanity! What is the reason?
You want to, you know like, mowing the land? You already did. What do you want exactly?
They want to finish Gaza – but I don’t think that because there are people fighting from their soul, from their belief that one day they will be free.
They will not give up.
I don’t know from where they get their belief – we wish for a ceasefire now.

PP: How would you like the Australian government to act?

AA: The Australian government, I can see two faces of the Australian government.
The face, number one, announce they are with humanity and support the innocent people and want a ceasefire, but actually there is not any action.
Another face, or another side, the government is still supporting Israel by sending weapons, they’re sending stuff.
This is not our war. Hello, Australian government this is not our war.
Everyone knows the US and UK is supporting Israel with money, military, weapons, with everything and then they force countries around the world to fight with them, to stand with them against Yemen.
Why do they push you [Australian government] to fight?
If America wants this fight, let America go by itself. Why do they force countries to go fight? This is not our fight. It’s not our war.

PP: There are discussion about a ceasefire, it’s really a pause. It strikes me that the only group of people not involved in discussions, at least initially, are the Palestinians.
The Saudis and Jordanians and others seem to be heavily involved. Do you trust those groups, especially the Saudis?

AA: I can’t say I trust and I can’t say I don’t trust. We’re gonna see in a few days, I heard there’s a push for a permanent ceasefire. We wish and we pray all the time for our people in Gaza under attack, every single moment in very very difficult circumstances.

PP: Do you have family in Gaza?

AA: I don’t have family there, but actually all the people in Gaza they are my family. All the people in Sudan are my family. All the innocent people around all the world, they are my family, because we call for humanity.
The most strange thing that makes me crazy, where’s the human rights commissions, they disappear, they put their heads in the mud for more than four months. Why? Why do they keep silent?
But for us, we will not keep silent. We’re gonna shout, we’re gonna post, we’re gonna keep protesting.
We’re gonna do everything to make the government take the position of ceasefire now.

Interview recorded 4 February 2024.

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