IN 2004, former Greens senator Kerry Nettle slammed then prime minister John Howard for an “uncharitable attack” on the recently deceased Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Twelve years on, her political soulmate Richard Di Natale has proved their party is just as uncharitable by delivering a speech on the late Shimon Peres, which has been condemned as “disgusting”, “rotten” and “hateful”.
Speaking after a non-partisan resolution in the Senate last week lauding the former Israeli president’s lifetime achievements, the Greens leader was dismissive of Peres’ globally-acclaimed pursuit of peace.
“It is important to put on the record that Shimon Peres has been described as an architect of Israel’s nuclear weapons program, which to this day remains outside the scrutiny of the International Atomic Energy Agency,” Di Natale said.
Describing Peres as the “father of the settler movement, which involves the confiscation of large swathes of Palestinian land”, Di Natale stated that in 1996 he oversaw Operation Grapes of Wrath, “which involved the death of 154 civilians in Lebanon and involved the shelling of a United Nations compound, which killed 106 sheltering civilians”.
“While he was awarded a Nobel peace prize in 1994, members of that committee have expressed regret that the prize could not be recalled on the basis of the actions that followed,” Di Natale concluded.
Slamming the speech as “rotten” and “shameful”, Member for Melbourne Ports Michael Danby said the Greens leader “again showed his total insensitivity and his hatred of a Jewish state”.
“It was unprecedented for the head of a political party to attack the recently deceased head of state who was known for values of peace and reconciliation with which the fake Green party ostensibly identifies,” Danby said.
He noted that not a word was said about Peres’ moves for reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians, his support for a two-state solution and his futuristic moves to engage Israel with the Arab world through technology and science by the “deeply ignorant” leader.
“Di Natale attacked Peres’ role 50 years ago in Israel acquiring nuclear technology – a failsafe for the Jewish State given the near extermination of the Jewish people during the Shoah which was understood by most reasonable people,” Danby said.
He added that Di Natale cited other partisans who said Peres’ Nobel Peace Prize should have been cancelled because of a military operation he oversaw in Lebanon, noting, “None of the Greens Party had made such violent denunciations over the hundreds of thousands of civilians murdered in Syria, again emphasising their blinded hypocrisy.”
Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Robert Goot and executive director Peter Wertheim said unlike Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, who lamented Peres’ death as “a heavy loss for all humanity and for peace in the region”, Senator Di Natale “could find not a single positive thing to say on Peres’ passing”.
“The Senator’s graceless criticisms of Shimon Peres shortly after his passing reflect poorly on himself and the Australian Greens, and suggest that their leader is a political captive of the extremists in his party,” Goot and Wertheim said.
Stating that Peres was a “world-renowned statesman, as was attested to by the eloquent eulogies at his funeral by most of the world’s leading political figures”, the pair added, “Shimon Peres’ passing also created a rare moment of warmth and civility between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders, which is further testament to the greatness of Peres and his ability to unify, both in life and in death.”
Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein said Di Natale has “put his pathetic misunderstanding of world affairs on show and disgraced his office as leader of an Australian political party”.
“Di Natale showed his utter disregard for Israel’s need for security in a fraught environment and chose to completely ignore Shimon Peres’ many celebrated achievements as a peacemaker,” Rubenstein said.
“It says volumes about the schism between The Greens and decency that representatives of 70 nations attended Shimon Peres’ funeral and genuine political leaders lined up to praise him.”
Di Natale did not respond to questions from The AJN.