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Fatima Payman walked a path familiar to many of us – work within a system or disrupt it from the outside | Sisonke Msimang

The senator’s actions have been a reminder that if we allow it to be, speaking truth to power is the most powerful gift multiculturalism can give

Senator Fatima Payman has cut a lonely figure in the past week. The first-time senator has spoken with a clarity that is rare among politicians from the major parties. Having found her voice dissenting from her party’s tepid position on Palestine, Payman seems to have hit her stride. Her departure from the Labor party is no surprise, but as the decision loomed, it was clear that she had resonated with communities with strong ties to Palestine.

Since October last year, the Labor party has tried to walk a cautious path in the face of unfolding atrocities in Gaza. As Sarah Schwartz, executive officer of the Jewish Council of Australia, wrote this week: “While our government has called for a ceasefire, they refuse to name Israel’s crimes or take the material action many have called for under international law including implementing sanctions and throwing our weight behind a global arms embargo.”

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