“Rarely has any political party in Australia directed such a combination of blind ignorance and insufferable patronising arrogance at a minority community.”
So said Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Peter Wertheim this week after the Australian Greens on Sunday updated their policy position on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, including recognising “that the state of Israel is practising the crime of apartheid against Palestinians as noted by prominent human rights organisations – including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International”.
The Greens’ position also supports “boycotts, divestments and targeted sanctions that are strategic and human-rights aligned”, and opposes the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism, which it claims “conflates criticism of the state of Israel with antisemitism”.
This is despite the definition clearly stating “criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic”.
“Like a lynch mob at a pogrom, and relying only on the statements of NGOs with a long record of bias against Israel, the Greens have condemned Israel for the crime of apartheid, without even the pretence of a proper trial before a court,” Wertheim said.
“Most damningly, the Greens have insulted our intelligence as a community by telling us that they know better than we do what contemporary antisemitism looks and feels like, and rejecting our community’s overwhelming support for the IHRA working definition.
“These bigots of the political left are every bit as bad as their right-wing counterparts.”
Saying the Greens have “dealt themselves out of any serious engagement on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”, Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler said their portrayal of Israel “doesn’t reflect reality”, and their suggestion that Israel is a colonialist country is a “bigoted attempt to reject Jewish indigeneity to the land”.
“This position places the Greens in the company of the most extreme antisemitic groups,” he said.
Adding that solely blaming Israel for its impasse with the Palestinians “speaks to a darker agenda”, he added, “Let’s remember that in January this year, the Greens’ foreign affairs spokesperson, Senator [Jordon] Steele-John, expressed condolences for eight Palestinian terrorists killed by Israel, but was silent when seven Israeli civilians were murdered the following day.”
Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) national chairman Mark Leibler said, “The enormous gap between reality and the Greens party’s Middle East policies must raise questions about other Greens positions and will severely dent their credibility in the eyes of informed observers.”
AIJAC executive director Colin Rubenstein noted, “The Greens kept silent about the merits of Israel’s last government – its most diverse ever – and their cynical attempt to exploit concern with the democratically elected Israeli government is part of their bullying attitude to the world’s only Jewish-majority state.
“The Middle East policies adopted by the Greens, quite simply, bring that party into disrepute.”
AIJAC director of community and international affairs Jeremy Jones added that the Greens’ rejection of the IHRA definition “exposes the Greens as having contempt for Jewish Australians, and strips away any veneer that they are in any way a genuinely anti-racist party”.
Meanwhile, a motion passed at the Queensland ALP conference on Saturday congratulated federal Labor’s doubling of aid to the Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA and its shifting of UN General Assembly votes back to a more neutral position.
It also stated, “We … urge the Albanese government to help save the two-state solution and move to recognise Palestine,” with the word “immediately” being removed before it passed.
Wertheim said the word’s removal made the motion “essentially an affirmation of the status quo, and not a further deterioration in the ALP’s position”.
“It is significant that the motion was passed without discussion,” he said.
“This should not be mistaken for a strong unanimous view, but rather a lack of knowledge and a lack of interest in the subject matter by most delegates, in the face of a concerted push by a handful of obsessive critics of Israel.”