Palestine Solidarity Austria defends member group from gov’t attack

We received this statement from Palestine Solidarity Austria. To understand the importance of the current developments, one should be aware that Austria, a country of 9 million residents of whom 17% are non-citizens, had been neutral regarding military pacts since the end of World War II. That means that even though it was a capitalist country and part of the imperialist world, Austria, unlike Western Germany and now Germany, was not a member of NATO and maintained normal working relations with the USSR and Eastern European socialist countries. 

In the past few years, the government in Vienna has lined up closely with the NATO states. Regarding the current situation in Gaza, the Austrian government, like those in Germany, France and other NATO members, has persecuted those organizations opposing Israel’s genocidal attack. Translation: John Catalinotto. 

The Palestinian people have the human right to self-determination — and thus also the human right to political representation.

Whenever there is talk of Palestinian resistance to the occupation in our political media, the unwritten law is that this resistance must be referred to as “terror” — with an insistence that indicates that the ruling elites themselves know that something is wrong.

Essentially, the rulers’ aim is to divert attention from the colonial roots of the violent conflict and to avoid addressing the systematic displacement of the original population, complete with occupation and apartheid. The structural violence by a state of European and U.S. settlers and the systematic inequality of oppressors and oppressed is concealed by pointing exclusively to the counter-violence of the oppressed. This counter-violence is decontextualized, personalized and condemned — and thus the rights of the Palestinians are also wiped away.

This is a fundamental distortion of international law. According to this law, foreign occupation is illegal and resistance against the occupation is legitimate!

As far as Gaza in particular is concerned, in 2006 Gazans held all-Palestinian elections, which Hamas clearly won. The Palestinians widely supported this party because they perceived it as not representing the failed cooperation expressed in the Oslo peace project and, as is well known, led to continued and accelerated Israeli settlement activity and turning the rest of Palestine into Bantustans. However, the ethno-chauvinist colonialists and their Western supporters, the United States and the European Union, refused to recognize this democratic decision.

Thus the particular misfortune of the Palestinians in Gaza took its terrible course. Israel imposed a blockade against millions of Palestinians crammed into a very confined space. Israel attacked Gaza militarily five times with a disproportionate number of civilian casualties. According to the United Nations, around twenty times more Palestinians died in these wars than Israelis.

Israelis never succeeded in eliminating Hamas

The occupiers claimed and still claim that they want to eradicate Hamas. In fact, however, they have never succeeded, even before the blockade, in crushing the Palestinian struggle for equal democratic rights, the recognition of human rights through a just peace and an end to the occupation with the ongoing war and the blockade. They failed, because this resistance represents the democratic will of the broad population, regardless of the political form in which it is expressed. That is why Israel and its allies in the European Union and the U.S. are perpetuating displacement and genocide in the worst possible way and delegitimizing resistance.

Billions of people around the world are moving in solidarity with the Palestinians. Yet it is the immense Western support for the Israeli colonial regime that continues to drive the spiral of injustice and violence.

Half a century ago, the events were not much different when the Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization resistance organization as a negotiating partner in a groundbreaking way — despite the fact that the PLO’s armed activities were not limited to historical Palestine, as is the case today and, significantly, also on the part of Hamas. What it also did was to recognize the political side of self-determination, namely the fundamental right of Palestine to have its own political representation.

Today, official Austria is trying to prevent this inevitable necessity for the establishment of a lasting and just peace from being recognized, namely the fundamental collective democratic right to political self-determination. This is why not only do Israel and the West fight the Palestinian resistance with violence aimed at extermination, but it also persecutes the non-violent and civil society campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS for short) against the apartheid state of Israel as “antisemitic.”

They intend to silence all voices that speak out against the genocide and stand on the side of the Palestinians and their resistance.

The EU has classified all armed groups of the Palestinian resistance as terrorists. We know that when the Western powers use violence to defend their interests, the terminology used to describe it quickly becomes “war on terror” and “defense of freedom.” In the wake of the terror frenzy, Austria has also tightened its laws to such an extent that peaceful political expression of opinion can be interpreted as supporting terror. Austria has passed an anti-democratic symbol law that makes it a criminal offense to fly the flag of even an elected Lebanese ruling party.

The duplicity of Austria and the EU is also evident in the EU-Israel Association Agreement. It grants Israel major trade privileges and obliges it to respect human rights in Paragraph 2. Despite Israel’s thousands of violations of this obligation, the powers that be in Vienna and Brussels refuse to exert pressure on Israel by threatening to terminate the agreement.

In this sense, the political-media elites are trying to disparage Palestine solidarity as support for Hamas and to cast its activists as being linked to terrorism, although we are doing nothing other than applying former Chancellor Kreisky’s position in today’s context.

Currently, the political-media complex is raging, because the “Antiracist Initiative Dar al Janub” (House of the South), a member organization of the “Palestine Solidarity Austria” alliance, is allegedly spreading Hamas propaganda. All they offer as vivid “proof” is a photo of a member of the association with Ismail Haniyya, the chairperson of Hamas.

Calls for a ban on Dar al Janub become loud. According to this logic and the current legal situation, Austrian Chancellor Kreisky, when he met with [former PLO leader Yasser] Arafat in 1979 and thus interpreted Austrian neutrality in a highly peacemaking manner, was by this act “approving of terrorist crimes” — the legal term that is often used here.

A blatant double standard

Is it not “condoning terrorist crimes” if the German government declares its support for the genocide in Gaza by raising the Israeli flag, if the Austrian government votes against a cease-fire in the U.N. General Assembly, if it unreservedly sides with the colonial and imperialist perpetrators in violation of constitutional neutrality and distortion of the basic anti-fascist stance? Many, very many, people are bitterly offended by this — but they are still silent in the face of media terror.

We will not stop raising our voices in defense of basic democratic rights, the constitution and Austrian neutrality, as well as the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people.

We demand:

Restoration of freedom of expression — which includes standing up for the recognition of the Palestinian resistance, represented by different organizations, as the political representation of the Palestinian people!

Put an end to the criminalization of the solidarity movement with the Palestinians and restore the right to demonstrate without restrictions!

We must get out of the escalation of violence! Therefore: Cease-fire immediately!

Peace needs justice: Stop the Israeli policy of occupation, land theft and apartheid!

And an end to Austria’s manifold complicity with Israel’s apartheid and settler colonialism!

Palestine Solidarity Austria

Anti-imperialist Coordination (AIK)

Styrian Peace Platform

Dar al Janub – Association for anti-racist and peace policy initiative

BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] Austria

Voiceforpalestinesalzburg – Palestine Solidarity Salzburg

Palestine Solidarity Vorarlberg

Palestine Solidarity Wiener Neustadt


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