Long-time Australian human rights activist Pip Hinman writes in today’s ABC Unleashed of the stakes:
A vicious smear campaign against the Greens candidate for Marrickville Fiona Byrne in the NSW state election reveals just how worried the powers-that-be are about the prospect of the NSW Greens winning a lower house seat.
This smear campaign focussed almost exclusively on the Greens pro-Palestine stand, in particular its support (along with ALP councillors) for Marrickville council’s decision to sign on to the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
In the context of an election rout of Labor, and a shoe-in for the Coalition, the Greens had a real chance in two lower house seats.
Labor opted to conduct the scare campaign over the Marrickville Council BDS motion (that the Greens and Labour councillors had all supported). It was game on. The Greens were unprepared, and the result is history.
There was a de facto anti-Green alliance of both major parties, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, The Daily Telegraph and the Australian Jewish New, a powerful alliance that ran a slanderous campaign asserting that the Greens are anti-Israel (or anti-Semitic) because they support BDS and Palestinian rights.
The anti-BDS and anti-Greens campaign in Marrickville – which reached fever pitch in the last two weeks of the election campaign – included the outrageous accusation that the Greens are “fascists” and “Nazis”. Greens billboards in the Marrickville electorate were plastered with swastikas, as well as racist and sexist abuse.
The attempt to slur those who criticise Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as fascists – or supporters of the Nazi’s attempts to wipe out the Jewish population in Eastern and Central Europe during the World War II – is a crude and desperate attempt to silence critics.
While some anti-BDS campaigners would disagree with this sort of slanderous tactic, they nevertheless equate criticism of Israel’s policies with a form of anti-Semitism.
The March 28 Sydney Morning Herald editorial said: “They [the Greens] may have paid a price for their Marrickville candidate’s indulgence in childish gesture politics as a local councillor. Fiona Byrne’s support for an absurd ban on firms with links to Israel from doing business with Marrickville Council only cast doubt on her and her party’s commonsense.”
An anti-BDS commentator to the online Green Left Weekly put it a little more crudely: “Singling out Israel [sic] for boycotts and ignoring all the human rights violation in the Muslim world is anti Semitic, no matter if ur [sic] Jewish or not …”