Labor MP’s support of BDS an embarrassment…write Peter Wertheim and Alex Ryvchin

November 10, 2014 by  
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Perhaps it was the pig’s head placed in the kosher section of a Johannesburg Woolworths by anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) “activists” last week.

By Peter Wertheim and Alex Ryvchin

Or maybe it is was the chants of “Jews to the gas” in a recent anti-Israel rally in Berlin.

Or the denial of Jewish peoplehood and the Jewish people’s right of self-determination that is inherent in the stated goals of the BDS campaign.  Whatever it was, something compelled Labor MP, Melissa Parke, to “dispel some of the misunderstandings” about BDS, that is to whitewash and absolve BDS of its all-too-evident antisemitism.

Alex Ryvchin

Alex Ryvchin

Every party in the Federal parliament and in the State or Territory parliaments supports Israel’s right to exist in peace and security, free from military and terrorist attacks and the threat of such attacks. They all support a negotiated two-State solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. They have all rejected the anti-Israel BDS campaign in their policy platforms, and leaders of the Coalition, Labor and the Greens have denounced BDS publicly more than once.

Peter Wertheim

Peter Wertheim

More importantly, despite criticisms of Israeli government policies and practices, whether well-founded or not, most Australians have shown no tolerance at all for the fringe groups that have picketed chocolate shops, university centres that try to exclude and censor Israeli academics, or local councils that are inclined to spend rate-payers money on anti-Israel crusades.

By lending her name to BDS and presenting a petition urging her parliamentary colleagues to boycott Israel into submission or oblivion, Melissa Parke has only brought discredit on herself.

In her attempt to distinguish between hatred for the Jews as a people and hatred for Jews as a people with a national home, the Member for Fremantle has cited the views of former UN-official Richard Falk. Falk was widely condemned (including by British PM David Cameron) for publishing a crude antisemitic cartoon on his website, which he then hastily removed. Falk also drew criticism for providing the cover endorsement of a book by a self-described “proud self-hating Jew” that asks whether “Hitler might have been right after all.”

Falk is known as a fringe “9/11 conspiracy theorist”, and has been widely denounced, including by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, for vile comments blaming the Boston terrorist attack on “the American global domination project” and “Tel Aviv.”  As noted by the British government’s Equality and Non-Discrimination Team, Falk’s recent writings are “resonant of the longstanding antisemitic practice of blaming Jews (through the State of Israel by proxy) for all that is wrong in the world.”

So extreme are Falk’s views that the Palestinian Authority requested that he step down from his position as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian Territories because they considered him to be a partisan of Hamas and opposed his deeply offensive references to the Holocaust.

Parke also quotes Peter Slezak, an executive member of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network. Just hours after a bus-load of Jewish primary school children were threatened with having their “throats cut” and were subjected to shouts of “Heil Hitler” and “all Jews must die”, Slezak declared that “Jews are fair game because of their influence and militant support for crimes of [the] Jewish state.” Slezak insists that he meant Jews were ‘only’ fair game for criticism, but this is belied by the timing and context of his comment.

Parke’s views on Israel are also influenced by the American activist group, Jewish Voice for Peace.  This group opposes sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, claiming that “sanctions are an act of war” and “sanctions hurt people”, while simultaneously lobbying for sanctions against Israel.

The dishonesty of the BDS campaign, which Parke has now endorsed, lies in what its leaders say privately and deny publicly.

The founder of the BDS movement, Omar Barghouti, who ironically obtained his PhD from the University of Tel Aviv, a University he now wishes others to boycott, has claimed a Palestinian “right to resistance by any means, including armed resistance,” and denies that the Jews are a people or have a connection to the land of Israel.

Other leading figures in the movement have openly asserted the campaign’s purpose of destroying Israel. As’ad Abu Khalil stated that “justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the State of Israel,” while Ahmed Moor put it in ever plainer terms, asserting that “BDS does mean the end of the Jewish State.”

Parke’s speech in support of BDS is symptomatic of the same psychosis for which Falk has been roundly condemned. It places all the ills of the Middle East, if not the world, at the feet of Israel.

Parke even goes so far as to link the scourge of militant Islam with the actions of Israel and implies that BDS is part of the solution. What connection Israel has to the marauding jihadists consuming much of Africa and the Middle East, Parke does not tell us. Israel’s only involvement in the Syrian tragedy, which spawned ISIS and has claimed, in just a few years, far more lives than the Arab-Israeli conflict has in over six decades, is to smuggle wounded Syrian civilians across the border and heal them free of charge in Israeli hospitals.

Parke’s public endorsement of a campaign that is at best dishonest and at worst racist, will disgust all people of goodwill who support a Palestinian State alongside Israel, something that BDS staunchly opposes. It should also serve as a sharp reminder that we mustn’t be taken in by self-appointed advocates for human rights like Parke and Falk. Too often they are found attempting to divert our eyes to the actions of Israel, a liberal democracy with a vibrant tradition of internal debate and dissent. All the while the voiceless victims of egregious crimes elsewhere are ignored, because for Melissa Parke, they just don’t make it onto her ideological radar.


This article first appeared in the Canberra Times.

Peter Wertheim AM is the Executive Director and Alex Ryvchin is the Public Affairs Director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the peak representative body of the Australian Jewish


16 Responses to “Labor MP’s support of BDS an embarrassment…write Peter Wertheim and Alex Ryvchin”
  1. Adrian Jackson says:

    There was a few letter in the Canberra Times on these two authors

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      “There WERE a few letterS etc. “,
      Grammar not the strongest suit of the pork muncher.

  2. Adrian Jackson says:

    Some old world practice of some groups not to eat pork, shellfish or cattle has no basis in logic. Pigs are clean animals of the sty is kept clean

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      One principal reason our sages have considered pigs unsafe to consume was the possibility of certain pernicious biological agents retained in the pork, agents which would affect one’s straight thinking. Obviously, here, they were so right !!!

  3. Liat Nagar says:

    Coming in late in the discussion, this is directed to Russell Ward and ben Eleijah, both of whom need to dig a bit deeper to get their facts in order. If they bother to do that, they’ll realise what they’ve posted here is so much bunkum:

    Russell, You speak of the inequality of Israel’s treatment of Arabs, and Palestinians, using examples to mix the two. Please be aware that the Palestinian people are under the rule of the Palestinian Authority, not Israel, and the Arabs who are Israeli citizens (about 20% of Israel’s population) have the same rights as Israeli Jews and utilise the education and health systems in the same way, have member representation in the Knesset, et al. There exists in some areas of Israel some Jewish religious communities who do not want Arab people living within them, but by the same token they don’t want secular Jews or Reform/Conservative Jews living among them either. The Israel courts uphold any Israeli citizen’s right to live wherever or travel wherever they want within the land of Israel.

    ben Eleijah, your passionate concern about ‘Palestine disappearing before our eyes’ due to Israeli settlement expansion neglects to take into account that i. we don’t yet have a Palestine as State or nation, and ii. the settlements being expanded are in Area C, where it was agreed in the Oslo Accord (1993), with the signatures of Arafat and Rabin making it official and legal, that Area C would be under full Israeli civil and security control. This was Phase 1 of a plan that would see eventual transfer of that land agreed upon to the Palestinians under a Final Accord agreement that would take into account the resolution of other areas of conflict remaining, such as Jerusalem and return of Palestinian refugees, and assured the safe and peaceful existence of Israel. So you see, the settlements are being expanded in an area within which they’re allowed. It’s no wonder that we haven’t seen movement to a Final Accord since 1993, when considering the two intifadas perpetrated by the Palestinians during that time and the rejection three times of proposed agreements that offered them between 93-96% of what they wanted. And there’s certainly not an iota of evidence to be seen regarding Palestinian intent for the existence of a safe and peaceful Israel – to the contrary, it’s Israel’s demise that is the motivation. Seems to me that it’s the Palestinian leaders who are disenfranchising the Palestinian people, not the Israelis.

  4. Steve Specterman says:

    Watch the 4 minutes of the anti-Israeli Finklestien. It answers everything

    • russell says:

      There is no hidden conspiracy behind BDS… it is transparent. It’s as simple and popular as the South African apartheid boycotts. People, unions and other civic groups are signing up to it because, as Finkelstein summarizes the first official BDS call from Palestinian groups:
      “We want the end of the occupation, the right of return, and we want equal rights for Arabs in Israel.”
      The end of apartheid Israel is not the end of Israel.

      • Eric Belcher says:

        Israel does not occupy, Arab lands. She possess’ her lands. Historically Israel has a connection with the land for over 3000 years. The goal of the ‘Palestinians’ a made up people is to remove the Jews and restore Islamic dominion over the land.

        [“Palestine” cannot be divided with the “descendants of apes and pigs”, said an imam in a recent sermon delivered in Denmark. During the sermon, Samha said, “[Palestine] is a blessed and sacred land, and the people living there are blessed and sacred. Its air is sacred, its soil is
        sacred, and its people are sacred and blessed. These are not my own words, but the words of Allah in the Koran.” “So how can we – or any free Muslim with faith in his heart – accept the division of Palestine between [the Palestinians] and a gang of Jews, the offspring of apes and
        pigs?” he continued. “Oh beloved ones, the land of Palestine is Islamic waqf, by consensus of the scholars of the Islamic nation. Whoever elinquishes even a single inch of it is betraying Allah and the Prophet Muhammad.] Iman Samha Denmark

        As for apartheid, you’ve got to be kidding. The only signs saying certain people aren’t welcome are in Palestinian areas and they say NO JEWS. Have you ever been to Israel? I’ve traveled and spoken to many Israeli’s, both Arabs and Jews. Israel is a free society. It’s not a race problem, it’s a religious one. Remove the scourge of Islam for the equation and you can start talking about a peaceful life for the region again.

        • Russell Ward says:

          Mr Belcher,

          Your statement that “Israel does not occupy, Arab lands” suggests you are among the supporters of Israel who have no regard for international law. Israel is alone among nations in thinking the occupied territories are disputed territoriies. The Palestinians I know who have had their ancestral farms taken from them for expansion of settlements filled with Jewish people from Russia and elsewhere who have no clear connection to the land. You seem to be denying Palestinians their history and culture, in the same way colonizers in the Americas and Australia denied the native inhabitants their existence.

          For every Arab extremist you quote I could match a Zionist extremist… some even suggesting genocide and total annexation can be contemplated.

          As to your suggestion that there is no apartheid in Israel, are you unaware of the roads which are for Jewish settlers only, or the discrepanciy in educational budgets for Jewish and arab students, or the buses that now refuse Palestinian workers to ride on them, or the laws that allow neighborhoods to ban arabs from buying or renting, or the raft of laws and policies that aim at averting the “demographic threat” of Arabs and at refusing the claims for refugee status from “infiltrators”? Are you really suggesting Arabs are treated as equal in Israel? Israel strikes me as exercising classic settler colonialism.

          Instead of extremism can we not see a possibliity of a just co-existence in the area… that is the aim of BDS and all those governments and people tired of Israeli rhetoric that seems to deny the Palestinains their human rights.

  5. Peter Hindrup says:

    ‘By lending her name to BDS and presenting a petition urging her parliamentary colleagues to boycott Israel into submission or oblivion, Melissa Parke has only brought discredit on herself.’

    Wrong! Melissa is one of the very few politicians who have any credibility regarding Israel. That Israel has every been supported by the political class is to the ever abiding shame of Australia.

    ‘Too often they are found attempting to divert our eyes to the actions of Israel, a liberal democracy with a vibrant tradition of internal debate and dissent’

    Israel is not a democracy. Never has been. To be a democracy one of the basics is that ALL citizens MUST be equal before the law. This is not the case in Israel, and the Jews have never intended that it be so.

  6. russell says:

    “The denial of Jewish peoplehood” or the Jewish people’s right of self-determination” is not a stated aim of the BDS movement, inherent or otherwise. Such inflammatory talk is as unuseful as some of the examples you mention. The many ordinary people people who support a consumer boycott, the academics supporting an academic boycott and artists supporting the cultural boycott are thoughtful sensitive people who want Israel to prosper but with the current impunity it enjoy in violating international laws and the human rights of Palestinians. Melissa Parke has added her voice to politicians around Europe and the world who are speaking up for a just change. I salute her.

    • ben Eleijah says:

      The Un commission of Human Rights reported in October that Israeli settlements had doubled in the last 54 months, along with massive increase in violence by armed settlers. Palestine is disappearing before our eyes, yet the writers can only indulge in smear and abuse of defenders of Palestinian rights.

      Recently over a 100 retired generals and security heads wrote an open letter opposing the expansion of settlements. Israel is creating its own critics and enemies by its actions, no point in abusing the critics and trying to conceal the truth in their statements.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      To any flimsy, superficial mindset, the BDS would seem an innocuous , “non-invasive” , even legitimate activity, would you believe (!!!!) without an extended agenda of – G-d forbid – some anti Jewish sentiments.

      Hey, Mr. Russell ( sic) tell that the marrines and, my advice, when you intercede with the bloody Yids, try not to advise us how to suck gefilte fish. So far, your interlude reeks of a well passed due date treiff.

  7. Adrian Jackson says:

    The Max Brenner chocolate shop in Clarendon St, South Melbourne, was the target of a few BDS protests on the footpath outside were 4 or 5 protesters handed out BDS leaflets. Last month Max’s shop closed but it probably was not because of the protests but because it was not popular with the general public. Other well established buinesses like “the old paper shop deli” across the street run by a business savvy Lebanese family taking much of the passing coffee and food trade.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Hey Hadrian, behind your wall of “know it all” one senses some very intentional prejudice. We have seen already a few identical comments from you re the fate of the Brenner shop and your constant disassociation of bloody minded BDS from anything pernicious betrays a bloke who is seriously intent on annoying those who know what the hell they are talking about. You being busy correcting us only causes the annoyance of seeing far too often unoccupied busy buddies sticking it up the bloody Jew. About time someone tells you that you don’t make any sense and the effects of your constant interference in other people’s business is to make us even more resolute in objecting to your kind, for, you fail each time to convince anyone that you have the slightest on matters political.

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