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Michael Danby
The Australian Jewish News
11 June 2015

Under pressure from BDS-heavies in the Greens party, like the unreconstructed Soviet-style communist Lee Rhiannon, new Greens leader Senator Richard Di Natale made an embarrassing backflip by withdrawing his and the Greens support for Israel as a Jewish state.

For the Greens party, the Jews—alone in the world—do not have the right to self-determination. The Jewish News captured this on its front page. Only one mainstream newspaper picked up the story. There would have been wall-to-wall coverage on all channels if the leader of any other party had executed such a total reversal of policy, on any area.

While all of this was happening, Greens senator Scott Ludlam and independent South Australian senator Nick Xenophon used the opportunity afforded by Senate Estimates to reveal ignorance and bias on Israel. Senate Estimates occurs thrice yearly. Senators question public servants on the implementation of government policy. It frequently becomes a game for non-government senators to try embarrass the government by asking neutral public servants difficult questions.

Ludlam and Xenophon questioned the head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Middle East Division. They asked about difficulties of Australian aid reaching Gaza. The answer that there are no such difficulties clearly confused Ludlam, given his blind convictions about Israel. So he kept repeating his question. Finally, he said he said he didn’t believe the DFAT official, asking him to check with UNRWA! In the meantime, outside Ludlam’s cloud cuckoo land, the number of trucks passing through the Kerem Shalom crossing has increased to 650 a day! The Greens senator and his ignorant staff could have done some research from the public domain before trying to spread their pre-determined hatred.

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Like Ludlam, Xenophon was worried about aid not getting through—“even things as simple as cement”. These two bozos seem entirely ignorant that Hamas uses cement to reinforce the attack tunnels (some 3km long), which were one of the principal military threats to Israeli civilians and causes of last year’s war.

Clearly foiled, they asked why the Australian aid budget to the Palestinians was being reduced. Next financial year Australia will be providing $39.8 million to the Palestinians, down from $68.5 million this year (the highest ever). The Abbott Government has slashed foreign aid spending to almost every recipient.

Xenophon had bigger fish to fry. He revealed the alarming news that Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister wanted Israel—shock, horror—to be recognised as a Jewish state. “Can [Australia] support a two-state solution and also recognise Israel as a Jewish state?” he asked.  The whole premise of a two-state solution is to provide two states for two peoples—one of course being the Jewish people.  Dozens of states identify themselves through their constitution or other founding documents by their majority ethnic or religious group. Xenophon didn’t ask DFAT about these. Even the constitution of ‘Palestine’ says it’s an Arab, Muslim state.

 

 

Both Ludlam and Xenophon argued against a reduction of aid to the Palestinians, given the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Which is fine logic except that there are terrible humanitarian situations all over the world. I could name dozens, but just one suffices to expose the hypocrisy of these senators: Syria. In the four years of the Syrian civil war, more people have been killed than in the 130 years of the Arab–Jewish conflict. Nine million people have been displaced from their homes; that’s over ten times the highest estimates of the number of Palestinians displaced in 1948. Thousands of children have been killed. But neither Ludlam nor Xenophon asked about Syria!

Their fraudulent ‘concern’ for Palestinians was underlined by their failure to ask about the squalid case of the Yarmouk camp in Damascus, which has been besieged and shelled by Assad for years, resulting in not just violent deaths, but also deaths by starvation. Nor did they ask about the near total lack of civil rights afforded Palestinians in Lebanon for the last six decades (or, indeed, anywhere else in the Middle East other than in Israel).

It would appear that Ludlam and Xenophon’s motivation is neither humanitarian need, nor Palestinian plight, but rather the opportunity to blacken Israel.

Nick Xenophon and I were friends since our student days, when he asked me over to Adelaide University to debate the pro-PLO Australian Union of Students. In those days, he eschewed any alignment with Middle East extremists. Sadly, a recent, brief sally to the territories has seen him fall for all the politically correct bull of the hard left. Yet, his persona to South Australian voters is mild middle-of-the-road, a crusader against extremism and waste. One wonders what his core voter base would make of his apologia for rock-throwing teenage Islamist extremists who drop rocks on highways and kill Israeli commuters. He’d be running a million miles if jihadists were doing it in Rundle Mall.

Michael Danby is Member for Melbourne Ports