Mouthing platitudes over Palestine should not be default Greens position

Following last week’s clueless intervention of New South Wales Upper House Greens Jeremy Buckingham over the Middle East – what? me? Israel and Palestine is complex so I want to be hugged by both sides equally – today’s parliament saw the following:

A fresh split has emerged within the New South Wales Greens over the party’s support for a boycott of Israel.

The boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign has already caused division in the Greens at a federal and state level.

Today the cracks emerged in the NSW Parliament, when Upper House Liberal MP David Clarke introduced a motion condemning the boycott.

“We need to make clear that we are disgusted and sickened by the racism, by the anti-Semitism,” Mr Clarke told Parliament.

Greens MPs David Shoebridge and John Kaye reiterated their support for the BDS movement.

“It is the only non-violent way to put real pressure on Israel. It is part of the proud tradition of Gandhi and Martin Luther King,” Dr Kaye said.

But Greens MP Cate Faehrmann has indicated she will not vote with her party colleagues.

I share concerns of some members that the tone and public perception of these protests have been counter productive,” Ms Faehrmann said.

Interestingly, today’s Jewish News features an interview with Buckingham and his words are remarkably similar to Faehrmann’s:

The only New South Wales…  Green to join the Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group made headlines last week after he spoke out against the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) demonstrations at Max Brenner chocolate stores.

A statement by NSW Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham (pictured) prompted speculation of a new split in the NSW Greens, which is reviewing its support for BDS.

Buckingham also revealed he had joined the Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group in the NSW Parliament, as well as its Palestinian opposite.

“I have joined the Parliamentary Friends of Palestine and the Parliamentary Friends of Israel,” Buckingham said in a statement to The AJN. “I joined these groups to gain a better understanding of the issues and to connect with people in these communities.”

Buckingham said he supported federal Greens leader Senator Bob Brown on Palestinian statehood.

“Australia should support the recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations,” he told The AJN. “Australians should also put pressure on Israel to withdraw the settlements from the occupied territories and dismantle the separation wall.

“The long-term future of Israel depends on it making a just peace with a viable Palestinian state, and its Arab neighbours, and not the continuing use of military force to repress Palestinians.

I am concerned that the tone and the public perception of the Max Brenner protests may be counter-productive to the cause of peace and human rights in the Middle East,” he said.

Buckingham also praised peacebuilding measures, such as a recent Leichhardt Council project, which has brought together supporters of Israel and the Palestinians in the Leichhardt community to support Comet-ME, a renewable energy joint initiative in Hebron.

“Australians, including Jewish Australians, have an obligation to be critical of Israel, as well as Palestinians, when human rights are abused and violence perpetrated.”

Here’s a newsflash; this conflict isn’t even-handed or balanced. Even (once great) historian Benny Morris thinks Israel is a lost cause (because Arabs are a threat but let’s not quibble over mere, racist details). BDS is a global movement that should be supported by a party allegedly committed to human rights. Or has moving into the supposed mainstream allowed certain forces to forget that power isn’t all that matters in politics?

Principle is remembered for much longer.

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