The 75th anniversary of the establishment of Israel in 1948 has been baptised by Palestinians as “The Nakba,” which in Arabic means “the disaster.” The Arab-Israeli conflict resulted in the displacement and dispossession of 700,000 Arab Palestinians and saw 900,000 Jews exiled from Arab Muslim nations.

To commemorate “the Nakba”, the Victorian Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) Secretary, Tony Mavromatis, along with the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN), hosted an event at the AMWU headquarters in Carlton. It was attended by union members, parliamentarians, and members of the Palestinian community.

Mavromatis welcomed guests and referenced a leading light of the union movement and past National Secretary of the AMWU, Frank Cherry, as someone with “a vision for workers beyond Australian shores.”

Mavromatis pointed to Cherry as an exemplar of the “trade union movement’s long and proud history of international solidarity with liberation, anti-colonial, and anti-imperialist struggles.”

The AMWU Victoria State Secretary Tony Mavromatis welcoming people to the Nakba commemoration. Photo: Supplied

The union boss was followed by the president of APAN, Nasser Mashni, who said Australians “should care about the Palestinian fight for justice and freedom.”

The works of two of Palestine’s most lauded poets, Fadwa Tuqan, ‘Enough of Me’, and Mahmoud Darwish, ‘In Jerusalem’, were recited in both Arabic and English.

Panel Discussion (right to left): The Federal Member of Parliament Ms Maria Vamvakinou, Ms Noura Mansour and Mr Nasser Mashni from APAN, Ambassador Dr Izzat Abdulhadi, and the AMWU’s Assistant Secretary Tony Piccolo. Photo: Supplied

Dr Izzat Abdulhadi, the Ambassador of the State of Palestine to Australia, spoke at lenght on “The Nakba” and “justice for Palestinians”.

The event was facilitated by Maria Vamvakinou, the federal member for Calwell. Nasser Mashni and Noura Mansour represented APAN, and Tony Piccolo the AMWU’s assistant aecretary and political liaison officerwas was also in attendance.

The evening included a panel which discussed questions such as; ‘Why should Australia care about Palestine?’, ‘whether Australia’s politics were too pro-Israel/American?’ and asked the question, ‘what can Australians do to help the Palestinian cause?’

Tragically, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has become a recurring cycle of violence that shows no sign of abating. Both sides’ leaders seem to agree on one thing only: their fundamenal opposition to any compromise.