Why Marrickville and the Greens (and a few Labor types) must be supported over BDS backing

How do we know the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against apartheid Israel is working? A member of the Knesset this week said that the state was losing millions of dollars.

Meanwhile, Tel Aviv simply believes that by expanding the occupation in the West Bank, the world will love it more. Washington is keen to help the process of colonisation.

The response from the Zionist establishment in Australia? Smear anybody who dares challenge the status-quo. This week’s Australian Jewish News (AJN) in Sydney has a cover headline: “Laughing stock of the world”. Marrickville council in Sydney recently embraced BDS (brought by the Greens and Labor) and the AJN found a Marrickville councillor to say, “No Palestinians have asked for this.” Seriously. In fact, BDS is backed by virtually the entire Palestinian civil society but why let facts get in the way of a Zionist hatchet-job?

The paper’s editorial is even funnier, calling for dialogue and engagement on the issue. This is a from a publication that regularly publishes articles in praise of the occupation:

The “laughing stock of the world” and “a joke”. Two terms used to describe Marrickville Council by one of its own councillors this week, after it passed a resolution last December subscribing to the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.
But, in reality, just how funny is the motion?
Certainly there are elements of the absurd about it. For all the “noble” intentions that some may ascribe to this grandstanding platform, nothing has actually been achieved in the past two months. Well, we say nothing, but in fact, it seems, an immense amount of time, effort and money has been expended trying to work out how to put the policy into practice.
As for the motion itself, much has already been written in these pages and elsewhere, as to the sinister undertones of BDS and the true motives of those behind the movement. And there’s certainly nothing funny about those.
One need only consider the words of the campaign’s founder, Omar Barghouti, who has voiced his vision of “a Palestine next to a Palestine, rather than a Palestine next to an Israel”. Is this truly what those who advocate a boycott believe in, when in the words of the Marrickville Council motion, they “support the principles of the BDS campaign”? Possibly not. But when they lend their names to a cause that condemns Israel as an apartheid regime and perpetuates only one side of the narrative, they wittingly or unwittingly fuel the flames of delegitimisation that threaten the Jewish State’s very existence.
And on a local level, that one-sided narrative is reinforced. Marrickville’s motion, like the NSW Greens before them and other boycotters, condemns Israel, but there’s no mention of the sustained terror campaign waged against Israeli citizens, the refusal to recognise Israel’s right to exist, or the virulent anti-Semitism preached from Palestinian pulpits, broadcast on Palestinian television and taught in Palestinian schools.
In reality, as visiting US unionist Stuart Applebaum observes in The AJN this week, trade can be a tool to help resolve the conflict – not by boycotting it though, but by inviting all parties to the table to forge ties, rather than destroy them. The same applies in the field of sport and culture. We must strive to break down the barriers, not build new ones.
Text and images ©2023 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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