THE Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) has written to Greens Senator Richard Di Natale to congratulate him on his election as leader of the party.
The son of Italian migrants was elected leader last Wednesday after the shock resignation of former leader Christine Milne. He has said he wants to lead a party of “mainstream, progressive values”, focusing on issues such as health, the economy and multiculturalism.
ECAJ president Robert Goot told The AJN the roof body looked forward to working with the Victorian Senator.
“Senator Di Natale has described himself as a pragmatist, not an ideologue,” Goot said.
“He strongly supported the campaign last year to preserve section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and gave great encouragement on that issue to the ECAJ and the coalition of ethnic and Indigenous communities in which the ECAJ was involved.”
He added: “Whist we disagree strongly with aspects of Greens policy on the Israel–Palestinian conflict, we also recognise that the Greens nationally support the principle of two states for two peoples and have rejected the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign.
“Senator Di Natale has personally spoken out passionately against BDS and rejected the pro-BDS position of his colleague Senator Rhiannon and two NSW Greens MPs.
Goot added, “We will continue to raise our concerns about the support for BDS by a handful of Greens MPs.”
Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) executive director Colin Rubenstein also offered his congratulations.
“We appreciate Senator Di Natale’s willingness to engage with the Jewish community and trust this will continue. We also thank him for his advocacy for Australian multiculturalism,” he said.
“We further note that Israel is a world leader in environmentalism, including water and agricultural technology and reforestation and we hope that under his leadership, the Australian Greens can foster closer and mutually constructive ties with Israel.”
Di Natale, who spoke at Limmud-Oz in Melbourne in 2012, signed the Canberra Declaration on Gaza last year, a document widely viewed as one-sided against Israel, during Operation Protective Edge.
One of Di Natale’s co-deputies, West Australian Senator Scott Ludlam described Israel as a “rogue state” in 2010, while the other, Queensland Senator Larissa Waters, wrote on Facebook during Operation Protective Edge, “Tony Abbott must pressure the United States not to restock the Israeli armed forces.”
Newly elected federal Greens leader Richard Di Natale (left) and his leadership team Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam. Photo: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas