Elections are imminent. Please send me your thoughts and suggestions if you believe we can extend the BDS to the political arena and do something to:
* apply pressure on all political parties this federal election to reconsider their support to Israel’s occupation, expansionism and crimes against humanity
* send political parties and politicians a message that their support to Israel/half-hearted support to Palestine will cost them votes
* link up with similar pressure groups across Australia As all of us know, there are currently no spokespersons in Parliament for the Palestinians barring Julia Irwin who, in frustration with Labor policies, has announced her retirement from politics. In contrast, both Labor and the Liberals have taken strong pro-Israel positions and shield her from scrutiny/sanctions in the UN whenever Israel’s expansionism, war crimes, human rights abuses and crimes against humanity come up for passing a resolution. Installing a George Galloway (pro-Palestinian former MP in UK) or a Julia Irwin in our Parliament in this election would obviously be a tough call but at least we can explore options to deny major parties of votes. At this stage, only crude ideas come to my mind such as asking voters to:
* vote for independents
* write the word ‘Palestine’ on their ballot.
* Refuse to vote I am aware of the crudity of these ideas and am sure, with the benefit of your thoughts, better, more viable ideas will emerge. We cannot afford to vote back politicians (some professing ‘support’ to Muslims and the Palestinian cause) who sat dumbly in Parliament as:
* it welcomed and felicitated a delegation of 35 Israeli leaders indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity in December 2009 including: 1) Ehud Olmert who ordered: a) the 2006 cluster bombing of Lebanon which killed 1,200 people b) the 2007 blockade of 1.5 million people in Gaza and c) the December 2008 ferocious attack on Gaza which killed 1,400 people including 900 civilians 2) Avi Dichter and 3) Sivan Shalom
* it passed the bi-partisan motion in 2008 congratulating Israel on the 60th anniversary of her founding and Labor’s role, under Doc Evatt, in keeping Palestinians out of the deliberations leading to the partition of Palestine
* Julia Gillard led a 40-member delegation to Israel within months of Israel’s commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead.
* Australia failed to criticise the specific violence against the Gaza relief flotilla; and support a UN call for an independent investigation.
* Australia advocated sanctions against Iran but not on Israel for her possession of nuclear weapons and failure to sign the NPT. This election, we need all candidates to heed Julia Irwin’s words: “Every parliamentarian ought to think seriously about the moral implications of Australia normalising relations with a state that is still under investigation for war crimes committed during Israel’s Cast Lead operation….Our media glibly accept the excuses of the Israeli public relations machine and ignore the horrific realities of Israel’s barbaric behaviour in Gaza. How can we criticise brutal regimes elsewhere in the world when we condone worse atrocities when they are committed by Israel?” We need our candidates to heed a Sydney parish priest, Rev. David B. Smith, who said: “It is shameful to think that our country is involved in helping to cover up war crimes… Australia has not only helped to legitimise the assault on Gaza that began last December, but has also served to legitimise the siege, which is ongoing and continues to be the cause of enormous human suffering.” As an ANZAC nation, we cannot permit the continuance of this moral scandal or our country’s continued support to genocide, occupation and colonisation. In solidarity David Albuquerque PS: Below is a letter I sent to some Labor figures. I will do something similar with the Liberals. ……………………………………………………………………………………………….
Dear Labor Candidate I thank you for your campaign letter in my letter box. While it has information about Labor’s track record and future plans, it makes no mention of your foreign policy. You may be aware that the Muslim community as well as sections of the broader community have had ongoing concerns about the pro-Israel statements, trade practices and policies of your government and senior Labor leaders – in particular Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. With the emotions generated by Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard’s failure to condemn Israel’s attack, in international waters, of a ship carrying humanitarian supplies and the murder of nine volunteers, Muslims and other supporters of Palestine have to re-evaluate their traditional support for Labor. Labor’s support only encourages Israel to continue:
* her expansionist programme in the illegally occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem
* to avoid a resolution of the long-standing Middle-East conflict by refusing to halt the illegal construction of settlements and the apartheid iron wall in occupied East Jerusalem and the west Bank
* her three-and-a-half year cruel siege of Gaza enforced as brutally as we witnessed on June 1 and last December (when similar attempts to relieve the dire humanitarian crisis there were repulsed brutally)
* the maintenance of cruel apartheid practices such as checkpoints, Jews-only roads, by-pass roads and road-blocks calculated to harass and humiliate Palestinians and prevent their access to schools, employment and hospitals
* the prolonged detention and inhuman torture of political prisoners and freedom activists in Israeli jails and other human rights violations as recorded by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other international monitoring agencies
* committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon as reported by the UN’s Goldstone Commission, Amnesty and other agencies In view of the above, we notice with great concern:
* Kevin Rudd’s introduction of the bi-partisan motion in 2008 congratulating Israel on the 60th anniversary of her founding and Labor’s role, under Doc Evatt, in keeping Palestinians out of the deliberations leading to the partition of Palestine
* Kevin Rudd’s infamous ‘support to Israel is in my DNA’ declaration
* Julia Gillard’s leadership of a 40-member delegation to Israel within months of Israel’s commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead.A study of the transcripts of Ms Gillard’s speeches and interviews from her trip to Israel and Ramallah, reveals that the word “Gaza” did not once pass her lips. Challenged by a reporter to say whether she believed Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians was “fair and just”, she avoided the question and retreated into platitudes.
* Julia Gillard’s comments to the Australian Jewish News on 21.8.09 supporting Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.Gillard characterised the onslaught as no more than Israel exercising its “right to defend itself” against Hamas.”Clearly the act of aggression was engaged in by Hamas which commenced shelling with rockets and mortars into Israel,” Ms Gillard said. “That is what breached the ceasefire, and Israel responded.”
* Labor’s invitation, welcome and felicitation accorded to a delegation of 35 Israeli leaders indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity in December 2009 including: 1) Ehud Olmert who ordered: a) the 2006 cluster bombing of Lebanon which killed 1,200 people b) the 2007 blockade of 1.5 million people in Gaza and c) the December 2008 ferocious attack on Gaza which killed 1,400 people including 900 civilians 2) Avi Dichter and 3) Sivan Shalom
* Kevin Rudd’s failure to criticise the specific violence against the Gaza relief flotilla; and support a UN call for an independent investigation.
* the Labor government advocacy of sanctions against Iran but not on Israel for her possession of nuclear weapons and failure to sign the NPT.
* Labor MP Craig Emerson’s response in Parliament on June 16, 2010 to Julia Irwin’s speech condemning Israel’s attack on the aid flotilla and murder of activists: “I want to make it clear that, in making her adjournment speech tonight, the member for Fowler was not speaking on behalf of the Rudd government.”
* The propriety of Ms Gillard’s partner, TimMathieson, being employed as a real estate salesman by the founder of the Australia Israel Forum, Albert Dadon, and Mr Dadon’s closeness to prominent pro-Israel Labor MP Michael Danby who was influential in the coup that installed Ms Gillard as Prime Minister. We cannot but take note of your failure to raise a single question in Parliament critical of your government’s support to Israel or to participate in any of the protests in support of Palestinian rights and contrast that with the intensive involvement of Revolutionary Socialist Party candidate Hamish Chitts in the pro-Palestinian campaign. We cannot but help compare Labor’s support to Israel with the Greens’ official policy on Palestinian rights appended to this letter. I intend, with the help of others, to publicise Labor’s pro-Israeli stand in constituencies like Lakemba, in west Sydney, and Holland Park, Bald Hills, Lutwyche, Darra, Algester and Kuraby, in Brisbane, where significant sections support the Palestinian struggle. Yours faithfully David Albuquerque ………………………………………………………………………………………………..
The following is the Greens’ position passed by consensus at Australian Greens National Conference, Adelaide – 27-29 October 2006 as below and published for the world to see on their website: http://greens.org.au/system/files/israelpalestine.pdf Passed by consensus at Australian Greens National Conference, Adelaide – 27-29 October 2006 1. Principles The Australian Greens:
• 1.1 support the legitimate rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people to live in peace and security in their own independent, sovereign state
• 1.2 support the legitimate rights and aspirations of the Israeli people to live in peace and security in their own independent, sovereign state
• 1.3 recognise the ongoing injustice that has been done to the Palestinian people and aim to rectify that injustice in a way that will allow both Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace
• 1.4 oppose Israel ‘s ongoing occupation of the Palestinian territories and the expropriation of Palestinian land and resources for its settlements
• 1.5 support negotiations to achieve the democratic aspirations of both peoples within an environment of mutual respect and equality
• 1.6 demand the protection of human rights in the Palestinian territories and Israel
• 1.7 reject violence and its promotion, particularly against civilians, whether perpetrated by a state, an organisation or individuals
• 1.8 oppose all forms of racism, religious or cultural intolerance and discrimination
• 1.9 call on all parties to comply with United Nations (UN) resolutions, international law, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Convention. 2. Goals The Australian Greens will work for:
• 2.1 the removal of Israeli settlers and Israeli security and military forces from the Palestinian territories
• 2.2 the termination of the occupation of the Palestinian territories and the establishment of a secure and viable state of Palestine alongside Israel, based on 4 June 1967 boundaries with both states sharing Jerusalem as their capital
• 2.3 a just and practical negotiated settlement of the claims of the Palestinian refugees that provides compensation for those who are unable to return to their country of origin, Israel or Palestine
• 2.4 the right of each state to independently manage its own affairs, including foreign relations and economic development, without the dominance of one state over the other
• 2.5 the equitable allocation of shared resources, including water
• 2.6 the promotion of a culture of dialogue, harmony, peace and reconciliation between the peoples of Palestine and Israel, both in the Middle East and in Australia, fostered through educational, cultural and other institutions
• 2.7 full equality before the laws of each jurisdiction, for every citizen of that jurisdiction, irrespective of ethnic origin, religion or belief, race or gender.
3. Short Term Targets
• 3.1 The Australian Greens call for: 1. the establishment of an international commission under the auspices of the UN to effect a settlement of the conflict, in accordance with the above principles and goals 2. peace negotiations facilitated by the commission leading to a schedule for the implementation of all the goals sought in 2 above.
• 3.2 As preliminary steps to the achievement of the goals, the Australian Greens call for: o the immediate end to all acts of violence against civilian populations, including state targeted assassinations and suicide bombings
* the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the Israeli military from all Palestinian cities, towns, refugee camps, surrounding areas and transport routes, allowing freedom of movement of Palestinians within the West Bank and Gaza
* the immediate freezing of all Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories (including natural growth) and the simultaneous commencement of the repatriation of the Israeli settlers from the Palestinian territories
* an associated withdrawal of Israeli security and military forces from the areas evacuated by the settlers
* the immediate dismantling of the separation wall
* the deployment of an international peace keeping force endorsed by the commission to: monitor the implementation of the above preliminaries by the parties; ensure that civilian populations are not exposed to the risk of hostile attack; and provide the Palestinian Authority with assistance to re-establish its infrastructure o an immediate end to refusal of, or hindrance to, medical aid and an end to the destruction of infrastructure, agriculture and homes.
• 3.3 In addition to the above preliminary steps, the Australian Greens call for:
* full involvement of representatives of Palestinian and Israeli women’s organisations in the peace negotiations, in line with the principles set out in UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security
* international support to establish a joint healing process, based upon the principles of a truth and reconciliation commission (similar to experiences in South Africa )
* UN endorsed measures, such as sanctions, as needed and in conformity with Australian Greens policies, to ensure compliance of the parties with the international commission
* Australian, international and Israeli assistance programs in the Palestinian territories which together are sufficient to repair and rebuild Palestinian infrastructure, institutions, agriculture and the environment
* an end to Australian taxation deductions for donations to states, institutions and organisations engaged in violation of human rights including settlement activity, and the harassment, shooting and killing of civilians.
• The Australian Greens extend their support, respect and recognition to Israelis, Palestinians and international peace workers in the area, who act or speak out for peace in the region and who promote non-violent action against the occupation of the Palestinian territories, often placing their own well-being at risk. We specifically recognise those Israeli soldiers who have refused to serve in the occupied territories