We will not be silent as Labor continues to fund the genocide in Gaza

Today in Parliament, Abigail delivered an adjournment debate, condemning all levels of government for their complicity in war crimes against Palestine and their efforts to silence Australians who speak out against these atrocities.

Abigail said:

The Labor Party in Australia is engaged in a campaign to stifle and silence dissent against their complicity in the genocidal activities of the State of Israel against the Palestinian people. Across the country, at all levels of government, the Labor Party is attempting to prohibit and condemn members of the public, public servants and politicians from drawing attention to and calling for an end to the Labor Party's support, in lockstep with the Liberal and National parties, for the Israeli Government war machine. The Australian Labor Party has accused my party, The Greens, of seeking to politicise the Government's willing complicity in the war crimes being perpetrated by the Israeli Government in Gaza against the Palestinian population. It wishes that we would stop criticising it for its actions and choices. But the power, and responsibility, is solely in its hands and on its shoulders.

If the Government does not want to be criticised by the public and by The Greens over its response to the calamity unfolding in Gaza, perhaps it should consider simply not handing over nearly a billion dollars to a company, Elbit Systems, helping the Israel Defense Forces slaughter tens of thousands of Palestinians. The Government could choose not to silence and condemn pro‑Palestinian voices and not to participate in the wilfully and dangerously false narrative of conflating criticism of Israel and the right‑wing nationalist political ideology of Zionism with antisemitism. For as long as the Government continues to enable the annihilation of the Palestinian people, we will continue to hold it to account. The Government is opposed to public calls for targeted boycotts, divestment campaigns and sanctions against senior political leadership of the State of Israel. That is good; that is how we know they work.

My colleagues have drawn attention to our Government's direct role in the arms and munitions industry that is currently waging war on Gaza. But there is a further sinister element to the Israeli war machine that is unique to the horrors of modern war making. It is the technologically enabled weaponry, artificial intelligence [AI], facial recognition and targeting systems that make up modern missile systems. I support and associate myself with calls from public sector workers organising in New South Wales to boycott Hewlett Packard. Hewlett Packard's technology is intimately involved in the oppression of Palestinians. Hewlett Packard is complicit in Israel's occupation and apartheid regime. Hewlett Packard technologies provide the circuits and wires of apartheid and genocide, and New South Wales procurement dollars should not go towards the profits of this corporation.

There is also horrifying news coming out of Israel related to the use of AI technologies for the selection of targets. This is not new but has come to an even more acute head in recent months. In May 2023 the director general of Israel's Ministry of Defense said Israel is aiming to parlay its technological prowess to become an AI "superpower", driving advances in autonomous warfare and streamlined technologically enhanced combat decision‑making. In April of this year, The Verge reported Israeli defence technology companies including Axon Vision, Asio Technologies Ltd, and SMARTSHOOTER were looking to export their "battle‑tested" AI tools, many of which are being used for the first time in the Gaza strip. In January, SMARTSHOOTER's CEO framed Israel's war on Gaza as a sales boost, saying:

This is the finest hour of the defensindustries.

The Israeli outlet+972 Magazine reports that Israel has been relying on AI to decide whom to target for killing, with humans playing an alarmingly small role in the decision‑making, especially in the early stages of the war. The report describes three AI systems working in concert to determine targets. Their decisions are taken as gospel, so much so that one system is literally called "The Gospel". The Gospel marks buildings that it says Hamas militants are using. "Lavender" which is trained on data about known militants, then trawls through surveillance data about almost everyone in Gaza, from photos to phone contacts, to rate each person's likelihood of being a militant. It puts those who get a higher rating on a kill list. Something called "Where's Daddy?" tracks these targets and tells the army when they are in their family homes, because it is easier to bomb them there than in a protected military building.

Thirty-seven thousand Palestinians have been marked for assassination by this process, and thousands of women and children have been killed as collateral damage because of AI-generated decisions. Artificial intelligence technologies offer immense promise and opportunity, but they also in many serious ways alienate us from our humanity. As these technologies develop, they risk being increasingly weaponised into highly sophisticated instruments of warfare and horror. But at the end of the day, it is not the technology making the decisions to deploy these missiles; it simply makes the genocide more efficient.

At its core, it is a political decision to confront these atrocities, or to stand by and let them happen, or worse, to be complicit. Our governments are making a political decision to permit this, and every day that continues I will condemn them. The Labor Party knows the public does not agree with its continued support of the Israeli military offensive on Gaza, and fear losing votes so it is trying to silence dissent. Free Palestine.

 

Read the transcript in Hansard here.

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