What an undignified state of affairs.
Here’s Anthony Albanese, Australia’s federal minister for transport and infrastructure and the federal member for Sydney’s Grayndler, writing in today’s Australian about the supposed problems with the Sydney Marrickville council backing BDS.
The piece is filled with mistakes, untruths and glaring omissions, such as:
– Albanese is married to NSW MP Carmel Tebbutt, who just happens to be running against Marrickville mayor Fiona Byrne in the upcoming election.
– The Greens are resurgent in inner Sydney, nearly unseating Albanese at the last federal election. His supposed care for Israel and Palestine would be far more credible if he actually spoke out sometimes (ever!) about human rights abuses in Palestine, instead of simply following the blindly Zionist ALP line.
– Albanese clearly doesn’t really understand BDS. It’s not about hating Israelis or Jews or anything like that. It’s about taking an important stand against colonisation when the Western powers, including Australia, remain silent over Zionist occupation.
– He mentions Leonard Cohen being boycotted in Australia when in fact Cohen is Canadian, not Israeli. This would not happen. Who is Albanese getting his information from, the Israeli Foreign Ministry?
– There are no complaints about boycotts against Burma (because that’s a generally accepted ‘bad’ regime) but Israel is a good, little democracy and those poor oppressed Jews need our support.
I could go on but here’s the piece. Yet more evidence of the moral decline (and utter lack of transparency) amongst the Labor Party:
As part of Leonard Cohen’s successful world comeback tour in 2009 he included a concert at Ramat Gan stadium near Tel Aviv in his itinerary.
For that he was condemned by some activists for promoting a cultural exchange in Israel. Never mind the fact that proceeds from this concert were directed to the Fund for Reconciliation, Tolerance and Peace. Groups which directly benefited included the Parents Circle, made up of both Palestinian and Israeli parents who have lost children in the Middle East conflict with the aim of promoting peace and reconciliation. Cohen described the concert as “representing a triumph over the inclination of the heart to despair, revenge and hatred”.
The decision of the Greens Party-controlled Marrickville Council to “boycott all goods made in Israel and any sporting, academic, government or cultural exchanges”, is unfortunate and misguided at best.
The council goes even further and suggests that any organisation or company with links to Israel should be boycotted also. It is not clear how much of ratepayer funds will be expended on this research.
It is doubtful how fair dinkum the Greens Party councillors are, given that the resolution carried a month ago included a third point, that they would write to local parliamentary representatives “seeking their support at the state and federal level” and Greens mayor Fiona Byrne has not actually sent the correspondence.
It’s not as if there are no policy challenges or local issues facing the mayor of Marrickville. The council is in the process of laying off staff, the mayor votes to close down Marrickville West Public School’s childcare centre which provides vital support to disadvantaged families and the Greens have opposed a series of modest affordable housing proposals.
This ill thought-out attempt to challenge the state of Israel through a single local council in the inner west of Sydney is clumsy and counterproductive. I believe that engagement between peoples promotes understanding and tolerance and is worthwhile whether it be between national leaders or student exchanges.
As a strong advocate of justice for Palestinians I, along with Joe Hockey, established the parliamentary Friends of Palestine group and was its founding secretary. Any lasting resolution to the Middle East conflict cannot be at the expense of either Palestinians or Israelis. Surely contact and engagement between Palestinians and Israelis is a precondition for a peaceful settlement.
If simplistic slogans were enough to resolve this issue it would have become a historical footnote of the last century.