This is almost a weekly obsession. As Israel’s behaviour worsens – just this week the UN released a report finding that the Jewish state tortures Palestinian children and uses them as human shields – Zionist fanatics will do everything they can to distract people from facts on the ground in Palestine and slam critics as anti-Semites or worse. Tiresome.
Rupert Murdoch’s Australian (whose editorial staff and key journalists must be loving their daily delivery of kosher pork from the Israeli lobby butcher) are determined to stamp out this BDS phenomenon (they have form). Today’s editorial is typically hyperbolic, typically ignoring the occupation, typically desperate and typically utterly irrelevant to the global growth of BDS:
Even if Fredrick Toben is right, and the murder of six million Jews is a fable pushed by “Holocaust racketeers, the corpse peddlers and the Shoah business merchants”, it would do nothing to solve the moral bankruptcy of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.
It would suit the extreme pro-Palestinian argument if the founders of Israel were the oppressors rather than the oppressed, and if the foundation of a Zionist state was indeed an act of imperial aggression, rather than a recognition by the international community that the Jewish people had been wandering too long. Dr Toben, however, is wrong. He is perversely, empirically and offensively wrong. Through gritted teeth, we defend his right to state his case. Nonetheless, no reasonable person acquainted with the facts would give him the time of day.
The bounds of reasonableness, however, rarely trouble the BDS movement, where actions range between the crass and the repugnant. When BDS supporters punish Israel by picketing Australian chocolate shops owned by a Jewish businessman, their absurdity invites us to laugh. Yet when they call for the severing of ties between Australian and Israeli academics and the banning of Israeli books, the ugly, illiberal and frightening face of BDS is revealed for all to see. Understandably, some conclude that Israel is only collateral damage for the BDS movement. Its real target is the Jews.
By flirting with BDS, the Greens forfeit the right to be considered a mainstream party. It demonstrates a preference for the company of the numbats and conspiracists in the dark and dangerous fringelands. Until the party disentangles itself, forcefully and unambiguously, from the BDS movement and those who would see a democratic, sovereign nation wiped from the map, its chances of being taken seriously are zero.
Now we learn that NSW Greens MLC David Shoebridge asked Dr Toben to join the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Palestine for a cruise on Sydney Harbour. Mr Shoebridge says it was all a terrible mistake. Dr Toben has since been divested, as it were, from the guest list. He may be right. Who among us has not occasionally pressed “send” in error? But why was Dr Toben’s name on a list of potential invitees at all? It is one thing to be a friend of Palestine, but quite another to be an enemy of the truth.
Not to be outdone, the Australian Jewish News, that cuddly family publication that enjoys dining with friendly colonists in the West Bank, has the following “story” in this week’s edition:
Israeli civil rights organisation Shurat HaDin has threatened legal action against several Australian supporters of the anti-Israel Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, including outspoken University of Sydney academic Jake Lynch and Sydney Peace Foundation head Stuart Rees.
And in a troubling twist, Holocaust denier Fredrick Toben has penned an open letter in support of Lynch, who last year infamously refused to assist an Israeli professor, who promotes Israeli-Palestinian dialogue, with an application to conduct research in Australia.
Shurat HaDin solicitor Andrew Hamilton last week wrote to Lynch and others warning them that their “activities were racist and in violation of Australian federal anti-discrimination laws” in addition to the Competition and Consumer Act of 2010 “if they damage the businesses they target”.
“Lynch, Rees … and others like them seek to impose restrictions on those having Israeli and Jewish national, racial or ethnic origins, whether these are goods, services, persons and organisations,” Hamilton said.
“The participants of the BDS movement clearly seek to violate freedoms guaranteed by federal law.”
He told The AJN that similar litigation had been brought successfully in France and Germany and had been upheld by the European Court of Justice.
In an open letter of support to Lynch last Friday, Toben said to “not only blame the Jews, also blame those that bend to their pressure”.
“I have had this kind of Jewish pressure put on me for just on 17 years, which ultimately led to my imprisonment and bankruptcy, but I still did not bend to Jewish pressure,” he wrote.
When contacted by The AJN, Lynch maintained his support for BDS, citing the alleged “complicity of Israeli Higher Education with Israeli militarism and lawlessness”, but was quick to distance himself from Toben.
“BDS is now supported by many serious-minded people around the world,” he said.
“It is absolutely distinct from, and has nothing to do with, the hateful rantings of Holocaust denialists, and should be completely differentiated from them. The underlying principles of the two are as chalk and cheese.”
Executive Council of Australian Jewry executive director Peter Wertheim expressed concern at Tobin’s gesture.
“The time has surely arrived for the leading proponents of anti-Israel boycotts to ask themselves some serious questions about what it is about their campaign that repeatedly attracts outpourings of gross anti-Jewish hatred, both online and in other public contexts,” he said.
Noting that the legal threat was an initiative of Shurat HaDin and not the local community, he added, “In our view, the best way to fight the anti-Israel boycotters is to continue to expose their true, but unstated, objective, which is the destruction of Israel, and their deceptive methods.”
You see the flawless logic? A Holocaust denier doesn’t like Israel and supports BDS. That must mean that BDS is anti-Semitic and supported by Nazis. It wouldn’t be because Palestinians are calling for non-violent resistance to the occupation. A recent BDS conference in Bethlehem displayed the strength of the movement.