For the first time in contemporary Australia, a major political party – the third-biggest in the country which attracts over 12 per cent of the national vote – is engaging in deliberate, inflammatory anti-Jewish rhetoric. The Australian Greens are openly antagonistic to the Jewish community; they are abandoning the proposition of a peaceful solution to the Israel–Palestine conflict and seem to be in favour of the destruction of the State of Israel. They actively support groups who espouse this rhetoric. This means that for Jewish people and Israel supporters in Macnamara, their vote at the next federal election will be more important than ever.
Macnamara has the second largest number of Jewish voters of all electorates in Australia at around 13 per cent. The influence of the Jewish vote is substantial but not huge. Macnamara is a progressive voting seat. Labor and the Greens won over 60 per cent of the first preference vote at the last election but Labor was only two per cent ahead of the Greens. The Liberal party essentially cannot win Macnamara because preferences will not flow their way, and the next election will almost certainly be a Labor or Greens victory.
Macnamara currently has an outstanding Labor sitting member in Josh Burns. At the next election, placing Labor number one on the ballot in Macnamara will be critical because of how our electoral system works. It is imperative that traditionally Liberal voting members of the community recognise this in considering the effectiveness of their vote. Putting Labor second behind the Liberals could hand the seat to the Greens. It is also essential that those who have previously voted Greens, most of whom support Israel, also vote Labor.
The latest incarnation of the Free Palestine movement that the Greens support, and which is promoted by the pro-Palestinian lobby, uses the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” This catchcry is certainly in virulent opposition to the existence of the State of Israel. Its spokespeople and supporters try to push the notion that they are only anti-Israel and not antisemitic. This is preposterous on many levels. They don’t get to decide what nations should or shouldn’t exist. They don’t get to decide what is an antisemitic action. The national aspiration of the Jewish people, manifest in the modern State of Israel and commonly known as the Zionist movement is something supported by most Jews worldwide and has clear standing both within international law and the UN. But the Free Palestine group and now their friends in the Australian Greens declare it to be invalid by its very existence. This is not only antisemitism but also the promotion of a hate crime against a people based on their association with a particular national group. It is also completely at odds with the consistent longstanding policies of the Australian government and the Greens’ own long-held, if deceptive, platform.
The Greens’ parliamentary membership, who for years have claimed to support a two-state solution, now peddle the colonial settler state narrative despite this being a historical nonsense. Coming from Greens politicians who eagerly participate and ambitiously make a living in the Parliament of what must be by their own standard the genocidal colonial oppressor regime of Australia, this is laughable hypocrisy.
My parents and grandparents escaped Nazi Germany and pro-Nazi Austria. In Nazi Germany the government itself promoted and incited virulent ideological antisemitism. Neither our government nor opposition do that. They stand strongly against antisemitism and support the right of Israel to exist and prosper and defend itself against aggressors. They support the two-state solution. Our Labor government makes honest and generally reasonable balanced criticisms of certain Israeli government actions from time to time. So do many of our own community, as do many Israelis. The Labor government and Foreign Minister Penny Wong are sophisticated and fair players in the complex situation of Middle East affairs. Senator Wong is respected by our communal organisations and most of our community. She won’t tolerate antisemitism and has little tolerance for the Greens or their antics.
On October 7, Hamas terrorists killed 1200 people in Israel in one day. If the attack had continued for a few more days, it would have likely been 10,000 or more. In Melbourne and other cities there are people marching in celebration of that mass murder and granting it legitimacy. Recently the Melbourne CBD was plastered with antisemitic stickers and posters. It wasn’t simply an anti-Israel political statement; it was pure antisemitism. These are the actions of people who are dangerously indoctrinated and want the eradication of the State of Israel.
The Greens are now supporting this view and must be rejected in Macnamara.
Melburnian Robert Lehrer sponsors a number of Israeli organisations and worked on the Mabo case.