Today’s editorial in the Australian praises those calm and lovely voices who speak nicely about “democratic” Israel and salute a “peace process” (that has only entrenched occupation of Palestine):
Given the increasingly febrile tone of anti-Israel rhetoric and protests this year, it was comforting yesterday to hear sensible words of moderation from the Palestinian Territories’ Australian representative.
The head of the General Delegation of Palestine to Australia, Izzat Abdulhadi, poured oil on the waters stirred up in recent months by Greens and academic activists. Mr Izzat told The Australian’s Imre Salusinszky that he did not support full-scale or violent imposition of the boycotts, divestments and sanctions campaign. This campaign has seen protesting mobs descend upon Max Brenner chocolate shops, urging a customer boycott because the company also supplies chocolate to the Israeli defence forces. “I don’t think it’s the right of anybody to use BDS as a violent action,” Mr Izzat said, “or to prevent people from buying from any place.” He should be heeded by the activists, some of whom would go so far as to have Sydney’s Marrickville Council sign up to the BDS campaign, and by the protesters, whose ugly intimidation has conjured up distasteful comparisons with the targeting of Jewish shops in Germany in the late-1930s.
Mr Izzat also sensibly defended a Sydney University Israel Research Forum, noting that a similar Arab forum would be held next year. An enlightened exchange of ideas must not be held hostage to partisan posturing over a conflict where there is plenty of blame to share around. This newspaper, along with the Palestinian and Israeli leaderships, supports a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. While the anti-Israel protesters often focus on Israeli settlements outside the 1967 borders, they avoid any criticism of Palestinian actions. Resolution of this conflict cannot occur without considering how Israel’s complete withdrawal from Gaza was greeted only with a menacing stream of deadly rockets targeting its citizens. While Arabs in Egypt, Libya, Syria and Bahrain have taken to the streets demanding an end to tyranny and a say in their own affairs, their sympathisers in the West have assailed chocolate stores, railing against the Middle East’s only established democracy. Israel is a place where Arabs already have a vote, and continue to hold seats in parliament. As Mr Izzat suggested, rather than foment hatred, there are good reasons for people to be constructive on this issue.
UPDATE: After a great deal of criticism of Izzat’s position, the Ambassador released the following response re BDS and Palestine.