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No Green Revolt for Palestine?

Palestinian-Israeli conflict

There have been a series of articles and pronouncements made opposing the Boycott, Divestments & Sanctions of Israel (BDS) campaign. In 2005 Palestinian unions, NGOs, and civil society groups made the following modest demands:

  1. An end to Israel’s “occupation and colonization of all Arab lands”, as well as “dismantling of the Apartheid Wall;”
  2. Israeli recognition of the “fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality;” and,
  3. Israeli respect, protection, and promotion of “the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194.”[1]

What none of the articles in THE AUSTRALIAN , Australia’s leading Zionist Daily newspaper, say is that the motion put at Marrickville council in Sydney was passed by all the ALP (4) and all the Greens members (5) of council plus 1 independent. The motion was opposed by 2 independents.

The minutes of the 14 December 2010 Marrickville council show that the Boycott,  Divestments & Sanctions of Israel (BDS) motion was not put up by Fiona Byrne nor did she speak to the motion.

The minutes further reveal that Margaret Hale and Jennifer Killen (a member of the NSW Teachers Federation) spoke for the boycott of Israel by the council.

Ms Killen is not a member of the Greens nor is she a councillor. Killen spoke to the council meeting as a Marrickville resident who supports the Boycott Israel (BDS) campaign:

“I did speak to Marrickville council as a resident who supports BDS — as I remember I said that I support ethical purchasing and investment policies, — that the Palestinians within Israel, in the Occupied Territories and refugee diaspora are living under apartheid and that we should support their non-violent resistance. “

I asked Ms Killen who is active in Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine (CJPP, Sydney) if the Greens support is crucial to the campaign (i.e. if the Greens get cold feet will that be greatly significant)?

Ms Killen replied:

“Yes and no… in the West .. they (the Greens) may be the first political party to support BDS… there was a friendly amendment to the motion put by Mary O’Sullivan (ALP)”

[in Marrickville council meeting 14 Dec 2010].

Letters to the editor of the Australian

THE “anti-Israel” part of the heading in your article attacking Lee Rhiannon misses the main issue. When all else has failed, the world-wide boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign, encouraged incidentally by many Israeli citizens, stands a chance of bringing militaristic-minded politicians to their senses and so might end the decades of violence which have brought neither independence for Palestine nor security for Israel…In so many countries, including Israel, Lee Rhiannon’s views would be regarded as unexceptional.

Stuart Rees, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW

and

I’m Jewish. I’ve volunteered in Israel and Palestine for nearly 40 years. Jews and Muslims, Palestinians and Israelis are among my dearest friends.

I’ve boycotted and divested from Israel for most of my life. I’m not anti-Israel; I’m anti-occupation.

Judy Bamberger, O’Connor, ACT

Comment
Looking at the minutes and listening to the commentary of protagonists, opponents, the anti-Boycott Israel (BDS) campaign by THE AUSTRALIAN and the pro-Israel political parties (state and federal ALP and Liberals), the attitude of the Greens may not be significant.

I say this because I have been involved in Palestinian campaigns for over 30 years, long before the Greens even existed. There has been support for the Boycott Israel (BDS) campaign by unions and by the Australian Council of Churches. While this support may not be universally strong and may be based on a two state solution,  it is nonetheless significant.

Israel is the beneficiary of trade surplus with Australia – for example it exports $80M worth of gems while importing only $14M worth. Israel imports $60M worth of coal and $24M worth of live animals. [Source: Dept of Foreign Affairs and trade 2009-2010]

While some members of the Greens have supported Justice for Palestine they represent only a small part of broadening support for Palestine over the years. Greens leader, Senator Bob Brown is reported in the AUSTRALIAN to have carpeted future Senate colleague Lee Rhiannon for her anti-Israel stance, telling her the policy was a mistake that cost the party votes in the NSW state election.’ [1 April 2011]

Parliament is not the place where a Boycott Israel (BDS) campaign will flourish. Support of the Greens is problematic in any social justice campaign and even more so when Israel is involved because the Greens are seeking to be a third force in Australian politics. For example, even though the Greens oppose the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Greens MP in the federal house of reps, Adam Bandt, supported the ‘No Fly Zone-over-Libya’ motion in the UN. This amounts to support for foreign intervention (i.e. a bombing war on Libya) by the US and its allies. I can’t recall, did the Greens strongly oppose the first Gulf War in Iraq (1991)? I don’t think the Greens as a party even existed then.

Boycott divestments and sanctions of Israel may be almost non-existent in the parliamentary arena. It was not always like this, people of the Facebook generation may not realise that the strongest support for Palestine came from the ALP and curiously little support from the Communist Party of Australia. The Australian accuses Lee Rhiannon of being the daughter of communist party members. Do they realise how pro-Israel the leadership of CPA was (the Aarons brothers, sic)?

In the 1970s and 80s, in particular the Victorian branch of the Labor Party — people like Bill Hartley and Joan Coxsedge — were strong supporters of Palestine.

From Queensland Senator George Georges  was the patron of Palestinian Human Rights organisation here. The Greens did not exist then and the ALP had a Socialist Left. in the end, Bill Hartley was expelled from the ALP. And George George resigned from the Labor Party over Bob Hawke’s de-registration of the Builders Labourers Federation (BLF).

Will Senator-elect, Lee Rhiannon, take a principled stand over Palestine and resign from the Greens? Time will tell, but I doubt it.

The progressive legacy in the ALP was never taken up by the beneficiaries of the strong stance of Joan Coxsedge, Bill Hartley, and George Georges. Did Qld Senator Claire Moore ever stand up for Palestine in the Australian parliament when Gillard and Rudd were parading their pro-Israel stance? But I digress.

Based on the growing level of support, the Palestine cause is unstoppable – despite pronouncements by political leaders [Policy is stuff of pre-schoolers: Rudd ] in this tiny outpost of the United States alliance (Australia).

The Boycott Israel (BDS) campaign is one strategy more focussed on unions and their members where power to intervene in trade lies. There is a consumer aspect to the boycott as well and that is maintained by activists focussing on Israeli retailers in big shopping centres like Myers.

To this point unions have supported the Boycott Israel by motions, but more action needs to be taken by union members. Groups such as Justice for Palestine (Brisbane), Australian for Palestine (Melb) and Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine should maintain their focus on working class organisation – unions.

Regardless of opposition by the Murdoch Press, by Israeli aggression, by Liberal, ALP or Greens’ leaders — political parties and their leaders come and go — but Palestine will be free from the river to the sea.

Ian Curr
1 April 2011

Sources:

Austrlian Greens Israel Palestine Resolution May 2009-1

Brown puts Greens Left on notice spacer

Letters to the Editor of the Australian

A ‘two-state solution’ to the Israel-Palestine conflict?

5 responses to “No Green Revolt for Palestine?

  1. Letter to all Marrickville Councillors

    Dear Sam,

    I think what you and the other councillors, and the Greens are doing in supporting the BDS is wonderful and courageous. Please circulate this letter to all Marrickville Councillors.

    All of us who have the wits to see what Israel is doing to Palestine, need to speak out against

    · Israel’s illegal military occupation of Palestine;
    · the continual theft of Palestinian land;
    · the daily demolition of houses and all other Palestinian buildings;
    · the wrongful detention of adults and children;
    · the daily arbitrary violence against Palestinians;
    · the baseless restriction on Palestinian movement;
    · the daily undignified and cruel harassment and humiliation of Palestinians;
    · the slanderous representation of Palestinians according to numerous negative stereotypes from inherently violent, irrationally fundamentalist, to a sub-humane group that do not exist;
    · and worst of all we need to challenge the image that Israel presents to the world as a legitimate democracy that is a victim of Palestinian violence.

    The hypocrisy of Israel and its supporters, including the US and Australia is an insult to the intelligence of observers, and it compromises humanitarian principles. Israel hides its evil apartheid treatment of Palestinians, and its ultimate Zionist goals behind this veneer of democracy, and in the process it fosters a system of corruption and the distortion of democratic ideals and humanity. Supporters of Israel also use this veneer to deflect attention away from their own “hidden agendas” – the geo-economic reality that represents trade, power and diplomacy.
    · …

    HOWEVER, personally, I would like all of you councillors at Marrickville to live to fight another day, because the principles you are fighting for are important, and this must reflect across the other work that the Marrickville council undertakes.

    In the short term, if you persevere with the BDS you will be defeated, and like Whitlam not be forgotten, but become irrelevant as a force for good both locally, and wider.

    I would encourage you to noisly withdraw your stance as a Council in favour of the BDS, but continue as individuals to support the BDS, and support other groups supporting the BDS who have less to lose.

    It is always easier to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission (a useful aphorism in dealing with local Councils), so backing down while explaining loudly and persistently why Marrickville has taken this stance is essential.

    You have already achieved a lot in raising awareness, but please don’t blow this momentum by not realising that caution is sometimes the better part of valour.

    Kind regards
    Jillian White

    Like

  2. Channel Ten’s 6:30 pm with George Negus on ‘Political Boycott & Marrickville council’s support of BDS

    I watched 6 pm for the first time and was terribly disappointed by the unprofessional manner in which ‘Political Boycott’ – on the Marrickville support to the worldwide BDS campaign against Israeli apartheid and occupation – was produced.

    Specifically:

    (1) The reporter, Eddy Meyer, interviewed/sought predominately pro-Israel voices

    (2) The other side – local people who support the boycott – were either never interviewed or were later edited out

    (3) The reasons for the boycott – the brutal checkpoint occupation, the starvation siege, the crimes against humanity and war crimes, the demolition and annexation of Palestinian homes and land, the building of ‘illegal settlements’ and the practice of apartheid against them – were either not given or were edited out, and,

    (4) Both George and Meyer made several ‘leading’ statements like ‘of all places, Israel’; ‘geo-politics gone mad’ without any explanation or elaboration.

    Like

  3. Open Letter to Bob Brown – Australian Greens Leader

    Dear Bob,

    What Marrickville is doing maybe “nuts” as Kevin Rudd says, BUT someone has to speak out against Israel, and stop the theft of Palestinian land, the arbitrary attacks, detentions and killings of Palestinians by the illegal military occupation.

    If the US, the UK and NATO see fit to intervene in Libya to protect Libyans who have “had enough” of Gadaffi’s regime, then the same principle needs to apply to Israel.

    How can Australia support a policy which insists on democracy and human rights for the Middle East but ignore Israel’s barbaric and inhumane treatment of Palestinians which has continued every single day for what, sixty years or more? Why do we accept the sham democracy that Israel hides behind?

    Israeli democracy is distorted and manipulated to protect Jewish interests, while entirely undermining Palestinian lives. Israeli treatment of Palestinians represents a canker in the soul of Israeli democracy, which will erode its democratic ideas. Israeli democracy is like the “security wall”, and distracts attention away from its corrupt, self-interested, greedy and brutal underbelly.

    As an Australian I want to insist that we strive to be a true democracy that is based on equality and universal humanitarian concerns. All citizens in a democracy must have the courage to speak out when that democracy shows cracks and weaknesses. As a true democracy Australia must have the courage to stand up for its principles, and not compromise them through fear of upsetting “vested interests”, whether they be our relationship with the US, or our trade ties with Israel.

    Jillian White
    0437 734 510

    Below is a copy of a letter I sent to The Australian yesterday.
    What the Marrickville council has done in supporting the BDS, may not be an “appropriate” part of their role, but what it should do is focus attention on the illegal military occupation of Palestine, the continual theft of Palestinian land by settlers, under military protection, and the constant injustice, inhumanity, cruelty and humiliation inflicted on Palestinians – all of which defies International law. Go to Palestine, check it out, and ask then ask yourself, just as Israeli activists do, why the International community allows this to continue. There are many Israelis and Palestinians who want the attention and awareness raising which is the intention of the BDS, so they can end the divisions and live together in peace.

    Like

  4. Tony from Newtown (currently overseas)

    Just for the information of readers, the Sergio posting above is a fellow traveller of the Neo-Nazi Australian Protectionists Party. The fact that 21st century Neo-Nazis, such as the APP in Australia and the EDL in England are vehemently pro-Israel is ironic but cosistent.

    Like

  5. Hopefully the left will get over all there pro DBS idea, The people of Marrickville have made it very clear to the Greens, Fiona Byrne is dead in the water.
    It was not the media that stoped the Greens, it was the people of Sydney.
    Get off your high horse.

    Like

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