UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese to visit Australia

Oct 4, 2023
Palestine and Australia Flags Crossed And Waving Flat Style.

On 11 November the Australian Friends of Palestine Association, (AFOPA), based in Adelaide, will host the nineteenth Edward Said Memorial Lecture (ESML), at the Hawke Centre in Adelaide. The event is news-worthy particularly as the Australian Labor Party (ALP) struggles with the issue of Palestine at this time.

Edward Said was a Palestinian American academic and author. He died in 2003 and is remembered for his political activism on the part of Palestine, and for his seminal work Orientalism. A familiar quote from his testimony to the US Congressional Subcommittee on International Relations in 1975 was:

“Imagine to yourselves that by some malicious irony you found yourselves declared foreigners in your own country. This is the essence of the Palestinian’s fate during the 20th Century”.

AFOPA commenced the annual ESML in 2005 with the speaker being the late Robert Fisk, the renowned Middle East journalist based in Beirut. He has been followed over the years since by some remarkable speakers, including the British political activist and writer, Tariq Ali, Noam Chomsky, who needs no introduction, the Israeli-British historian Ilan Pappe, and Haaretz journalist, Gideon Levy.

Image: Wikimedia Commons / OHCHR (United Nations) CC BY-SA 4.0

The presenter of this year’s lecture is Francesca Albanese. Albanese is an Italian international lawyer and academic who in May 2022 was appointed UN Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories. Before her appointment she worked for a decade as an human rights expert for the UN, including at the UN Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees. In her first report as Special Rapporteur, delivered in October 2022, Albanese recommended that UN member states develop “a plan to end the Israeli settler-colonial occupation and apartheid regime”. Unsurprisingly, Albanese has been attacked by supporters of Israel, but she has been strongly defended by human rights and academic organisations, and given the contemporaneous findings of apartheid in Israel by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, such defence of her could only be expected. Subsequent reports by Albanese have been damning of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

Apart from delivering the ESML, Albanese is due to address the National Press Club on 14 November, and is also due to be interviewed by journalist John Lyons, author of Balcony Over Jerusalem , on SBS television on 9 November.

It is no surprise that the Australian Jewish News, (AJN), a plank of the Zionist lobby in Australia, has sought to present Albanese’s appearances in Australia as controversial. On 28 September the AJN accused Albanese of holding extreme views about Israel, indeed, having an extreme anti-Israel bias.

Of course, such accusations against a professional – lawyer and academic – appointed by the United Nations as a rapporteur, which position would demand impartiality and objectivity, are clearly defamatory. The AJN, and other Zionist groups in Australia, will have to weigh that consideration over the next month or so when commenting upon Albanese’s Australian appearances.

There can be no doubt that Francesca Albanese’s presentations to the Australian public will be of great interest and importance. Readers of P&I are invited to ‘watch this space’.

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