Political scorecard

June 27, 2016 by  
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The Executive Council of Australian Jewry has asked the Coalition, the Australian Labor Party, the Australian Greens, the Jacqui Lambie Network and the Nick Xenophon Team to answer specific questions of concern to the Australian Jewish community ahead of the July 2 election…a republished story in the interest of those wanting full information for tomorrow’s election.

ECAJ-LOGO290The questions relate to the physical security and freedom to practice the Jewish faith, and on Australia-Israel relations and the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

The executive director Peter Wertheim and Public Affairs Director Alex Ryvchin have compiled this overview of the questions and responses.

Communal security

At present, on the basis of security assessments by law enforcement agencies, the Commonwealth Government provides direct assistance to Jewish and other religious schools to meet part of their security costs. No financial assistance is provided for other vulnerable facilities including community centres, museums and synagogues. In the case of non-school Jewish institutions, such costs are met entirely by the Jewish community itself.

Both the Coalition and Labor have now pledged to extend the category of communal facilities which are eligible for security funding assistance.

The Coalition has announced the establishment of a $40 million Safer Communities Fund, part of which will in part be directed to “community organisations that are facing security risks associated with racial or religious intolerance.”

Labor has also acknowledged the need to “support necessary improvement to security in the wider community” and has announced that it will commit $500,000 to “significantly upgrade security at the Beth Weizmann Community Centre in Melbourne.

The Jacqui Lambie Network supports extending security assistance to Jewish communal facilities.

The Greens and the Nick Xenophon Team have both indicated that they would support commonwealth funding for communal facilities where the merits of doing so have been established.

Education

The Coalition, Labor and the Greens have all promised to increase funding for independent schools, including Jewish schools.

Labor and the Greens are in favour of full implementation of the Gonski reforms.

Nick Xenophon and Jacqui Lambie would maintain current levels of funding for independent schools, including Jewish schools.

Racial Vilification

All parties have stated they do not support repeal or amendment of sections 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Labor and the Greens have affirmed their steadfast support for the Racial Discrimination Act and highlighted their role in opposing previous attempts to repeal or weaken sections 18C and 18D.

Israel

Palestinian statehood

The Coalition and Jacqui Lambie Network have expressly rejected recognition of a Palestinian State other than in the context of a negotiated peace agreement with Israel.

Labor has confirmed that, as resolved at its 2015 National Conference, the Party would consider recognising a Palestinian state if the next round of peace negotiations fails to yield a two-state solution.

Nick Xenophon has reiterated his support for a two-state solution but has not stated whether he supports recognising a Palestinian state other than as a consequence of a negotiated peace agreement.

The Greens recognise a Palestinian state.

Australia-Israel relations

Every party with the exception of the Greens explicitly supports greater bilateral relations between Israel and Australia at all levels, including government, business, cultural, academic and people-to-people. The Greens have stated that any bilateral relations should promote peace, democracy, human rights and other values and that Australia’s relationship with Israel should reflect these principles.

BDS

BDS is not the policy of any political party in Australia.
Nick Xenophon and Jacqui Lambie have both stated that they do not support BDS. The Greens have affirmed that BDS is not the policy of the Australian Greens.

Labor has forcefully repudiated BDS, referring to prior consistent statements to this effect, and has also branded BDS as “harming Palestinian people economically” and “unhelpful to the Middle East peace process.”

The Coalition states that BDS is a “blatantly antisemitic campaign” and has denounced those who support it “… including university academics, trade unions, members of the Labor Party, the Greens and Local Government.”

The Coalition and the Jacqui Lambie Network have also stated that in addition to opposing BDS they are opposed to MPs providing political or other support for individuals or organisations which promote BDS.

Religious Freedom

Shechita

The Greens have not stated whether they are in favour of maintaining existing laws concerning religious slaughter of animals in Australia and have called for “greater accountability and transparency in all Australian abattoirs”.

All other parties have confirmed that they are in favour of maintaining existing laws relating to kosher slaughter.

Freedom of conscience

All parties are in favour of religious ministers retaining the right to decide for themselves whether they wish to solemnise any marriage.

The Greens support the repeal of religious exemptions to anti-discrimination laws.

Antisemitism

The Coalition, Labor and the Jacqui Lambie Network accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)-endorsed definition of antisemitism, which also recognises antisemitism in the context of extreme attacks on the State of Israel, involving for example, Holocaust inversion or the denial of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination.

Nick Xenophon and the Greens have issued general condemnations of antisemitism without adopting the IHRA-endorsed definition.

The full list of questions and answers can be viewed on the ECAJ website.

Comments

10 Responses to “Political scorecard”
  1. Robert Schwartz says:

    The Greens might recognise “Israel” – but they don’t recognise Israel as the State of the Jewish people. On 22 May 2015, when asked by the Australian Jewish News about the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish State, Di Natale gave the following heartening answer:

    “Of course. How can you have a two-state solution when you refuse to acknowledge the right of one state to exist? It’s patently nonsense.”

    There is an audio recording confirming that this is the answer he gave to the Australian Jewish News, and di Natale’s office subsequently admitted that the quote was accurate. He should adhered to that answer.

    Sadly, di Natale subsequently came under pressure from the anti-Israel elements in The Greens (who subscribe to the non sequitur currently favoured by the Palestinian Authority that any acknowledgement that Israel is the national home of the Jewish people would somehow relegate its non-Jewish citizens to second-class status and compromise the Palestinian claim to a right of return for Palestinian ‘refugees’). Di Natale claimed that he had understood the question he was answering to be about whether he accepted Israel’s right to exist as an ‘Israeli State’ as distinct from a ‘Jewish State’. He asserted that the existence of a ‘Jewish state’ (as opposed to an ‘Israeli state’) is not conducive to a two-State solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict and that he did not intend his answer to the Australian Jewish News to be construed as such, as it did not reflect Australian Greens policy.

    It is ironic that even the outspokenly anti-Israel Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon is on the public record as having supported Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State. She was a participant in a panel discussion with David Speers on Sky News’ “The Nation” on 14 April 2011. Towards the end of the program, Speers asked Rhiannon several questions about her support for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, which concluded with the question, “Do you support a two-State solution?” Rhiannon answered “Yes”. Speers then asked “With a Jewish State alongside a Palestinian State?” and she replied “Yes, yes.” (See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CbHAhGl2L0 from 45:20 onwards). Rhiannon confirmed this answer when questioned before a large audience at a ‘Politics in the Pub’ event in Sydney on 22 July 2011.

    As reported in the AJN, the ECAJ wrote to di Natale on 1 June 2015 pointing out that “The Jewish people are, and always have been, both a faith community and a national community. (So too are the Sikhs, and possibly other groups). This is a fact which many people do not understand – or are unwilling to understand because it doesn’t suit their convenience or interests. But it is a fact nonetheless, and it has been accepted as proven in the jurisprudence of the western world.” The ECAJ further submitted:

    “Some Palestinians argue that any denial of their peoplehood and right of self-determination is inherently racist. If that is true, then any denial of the peoplehood and right of self-determination of the Jewish people is equally racist. Pope Francis has now stated publicly that not recognizing Israel as Jewish is “antisemitic”: http://www.timesofisrael.com/not-recognizing-israel-as-jewish-is-anti-semitic-pope-says/”.

    Di Natale responded in an email the following day stating: “I have never believed that the establishment of a ‘Jewish state’ (as opposed to an ‘Israeli state’) is conducive to this outcome and I absolutely do not support that goal.”

    This was a deeply disappointing (and breathtakingly misconceived) answer. As the ECAJ replied: “The establishment of Israel as a Jewish State is not a “goal”. It has been the reality since Israel’s proclamation of independence in 1948….the UN General Assembly clearly and explicitly endorsed the establishment of “independent Arab and Jewish States” when it recommended the partition of the country in 1947. The partition resolution contains no fewer than 30 references to the “Jewish State’’ whose creation it authorised.

  2. Liat Kirby-Nagar says:

    Larry Stillman,
    It’s all very well for the Greens to include recognition of Israel and a Palestinian state as one rather conceptual statement in the platform, however if one bothers to read the Resolutions stated as per the website you provided, we see, amongst many other demands that favour the Palestinians:

    Under 3.3, from Short Term Goals, a demand for: ‘Australian, international and Israeli assistance programs in the Palestinian territories which together are sufficient to repair and rebuild Palestinian infrastructure, institutions, agriculture and development.’ –
    Perhaps the Greens should take into account the many millions of dollars being poured into the Palestinian territories year after year, by the US, Europe and others, in assistance, which instead of being put to good use for the people is being spent on underground tunnels and armaments. Perhaps, too, they could consider the agricultural development that had been made by the Israelis and left intact on Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, which was immediately demolished by the Palestinians.

    There is also mention of the need to promote a culture of justice, harmony and peace, particularly through education. –
    This will not be as easy as it sounds, for are the Greens not aware of the ongoing, pervasive influence of hatred and animosity for Jews (not Israelis, Jews) taught comprehensively and specifically in Palestinian schools, from junior school classes and up. There are many videos available where this can be viewed and verified. Young children being taught to hate Jews and incited to kill them. Are the Greens aware at all of the Hand in Hand schools, through the auspices of the Jewish/Arab Education Centre, sprinkled throughout Israel? Integrated bilingual schools, with classes comprising an Arab and Jewish teacher, teaching in Hebrew and Arab both cultures and both perspectives. Although fewer in number than conventional schooling, they operate legitimately and legally under the Israeli Education Department. Pity the Palestinian leaders can’t bring themselves to consider another way, rather than to poison the minds of their children and propagate war.

    Also, we see the ridiculous idea of compensating all the ‘Palestinian refugees’, which now amount to millions due to the unique situation of the Palestinians demanding inherited refugee status. Should we not also be looking at recompensing the million Jews, and their offspring, who had to flee as refugees from surrounding Arab countries to Israel from 1949 to the early 1950s? No word of that. Those ‘Palestinian’ people who fled Israel in 1948, and there were many who fled through fear alone – they were not forced, are no different to refugees all over the world, through the centuries, who have become displaced through the historical moments of the time they lived in for a variety of reasons.

    The Greens will never amount to anything while they are so ideologically driven that they cannot bring themselves to see the whole before drawing up demands and resolutions. Their demands are ridiculously naive, and their political stance on the Israel/Palestinian issue is not balanced in any way.

  3. Larry Stillman says:

    This report which I assume is based on a press release is a sloppy reflection of the detail in the report that can be accessed. In particular, the tone of the piece implies that the Greens do not recognise Israel (but they only recognise Palestine). This is not true. They recognise Israel and Palestine. See https://greens.org.au/sites/greens.org.au/files/Israel_Palestine_1.pdf. For the recent Greens resolutions.

    In addition, it is clear that both Labor and the Liberaks will recognise the State of Palestine, albeit subject to particular circumstances.

    And why Jacqui Lambie? Ricky Muir and Derryn the Human Headline will also be elected.

  4. Jennifer Guinane says:

    John Madigan, the Democratic Labour Party, the Christian Democratic Party and Family First are ethetically sound and need to have their voices heard. I am surprised they were overlooked in this survey.

    • Michael Barnett says:

      How do you define “ethically sound” Jennifer? I consider these organisations as verging on the lunatic fringe, if not a solid part of it. I’m actually surprised you left out Rise Up Australia Party.

      • Jennifer Guinane says:

        Thank you for your reply, Michael. To me sound ethics involves a strong sense of social justice including religious freedom, COMBINED with respect for the right to life of all human beings from conception to natural death. That would exclude the “Curates Egg” party, the Greens. I too, am a bit put off by the RUAP for its overt religious overtones. Ethical issues should be discussed in the light of Natural Law which is a concept open to all.
        To be frank, I am more inclined to give my informed vote to the individuals who support my views, some of whom are members of the parties I have named previously.

  5. Liat Kirby-Nagar says:

    No surprises there! Well done ECAJ for forcing focus on Jewish issues, something Xenophon and the Greens would most obviously prefer not to have to do. Two weeks before an election who will refuse?

  6. Adrian Jackson says:

    Under the heading “Israel” there are comments about Palestine.

    I just rang the Foreign Ministers electorate office in WA and the Coalition policy on Palestine is a two state solution just like the ALP’s current policy is.

  7. Michael Barnett says:

    Importantly, for the nay-sayers and negative Nellies on marriage equality:

    “All parties are in favour of religious ministers retaining the right to decide for themselves whether they wish to solemnise any marriage.”

    Reform to the Marriage Act favouring consenting adults to marry, regardless of gender, will not force any rabbi to solemnise a union they disapprove of.

    There is no slope, slippery or otherwise.

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