Marrickville: A Word from Danby

January 18, 2011 by Henry Benjamin
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Federal Labour Member of Parliament Michael Danby has thrown his hat into the Marrickville Council Israeli boycott ring.

To date more than 3,300 people have signed a petition earmarked for the desk of Barbara Perry, the NSW Minister for Local Government protesting the decistion of Sydney’s Marrickville Council calling on a boycott against Israeli made goods being sold within the council’s area.

J-Wire has asked Councillor Cathy Peters who proposed the resolution how far she would take the boycott personally. She has not yet replied specifically. She was asked if she would desist from using mobiles, texting, using computers with Intel inside, drinking Australian wine made from grapes irrigated using Israeli technology, buying at retail stores whose point of sale technology is Israeli.

Michael Danby

The good people of Marrickville took to the streets and protested about Jaffa oranges being sold within their boundaries. J-Wire can tell them that more than 90% of Jaffa oranges, including those with Jaffa Israel stickers on them, are grown outside of Israel…mostly in Spain and South Africa but also in fifteen other countries.

Now Michael Danby, the member for Melbourne Ports has this to say: ”

“What is next for the Marrickville Council?  Are they now going to paint the Star of David on shops selling Israeli products? These low-grade councillors who participated in this action have a primitive knowledge of foreign policy. It’s instructive  that they call for a boycott of all things Israeli. As a matter of consistency, I expect these councillors boycotting Israeli goods will not avail themselves of  any of the Israeli developed lifesaving medical  products pervasive throughout the health system when they check in hospital”


5 Responses to “Marrickville: A Word from Danby”
  1. Marcus says:

    I’m not a member of the Green Party, but I’m certainly going to join now. As a Marrickville resident, I stand proudly with my council in support of the BDS.

  2. Is Mr Danby suggesting that boycotts should not have been used against South Africa? Or that the civil rights movement in the US should have been denied boycott as a legitimiate strategy to target an illegitimate system of power.

    Mr Danby, boycotts are a step of last recourse. For 43 years Palestinians have been living under occupation. This is not sustainable. It hurts both Israelis and Palestinians. The State of Israel leaves Palestinians little choice, when members of cabinet (like Lieberman) proudly live within Palestine proper with all the might of the Israeli military to ensure he can do what is an illegal act (under international law) and an immoral act.

    Mr Danby, the Greens are providing a powerful moral force to the Australian electorate. Let us hope the ALP and Coalition can centre their policy on human rights and not parochial interests.

  3. Lilith says:

    Alan …Anthony Albanese published an item in the Australian on the issue on January 14th.

    S part of Leonard Cohen’s successful world comeback tour in 2009 he included a concert at Ramat Gan stadium near Tel Aviv in his itinerary.

    For that he was condemned by some activists for promoting a cultural exchange in Israel. Never mind the fact that proceeds from this concert were directed to the Fund for Reconciliation, Tolerance and Peace. Groups which directly benefited included the Parents Circle, made up of both Palestinian and Israeli parents who have lost children in the Middle East conflict with the aim of promoting peace and reconciliation. Cohen described the concert as “representing a triumph over the inclination of the heart to despair, revenge and hatred”.

    The decision of the Greens Party-controlled Marrickville Council to “boycott all goods made in Israel and any sporting, academic, government or cultural exchanges”, is unfortunate and misguided at best.

    The council goes even further and suggests that any organisation or company with links to Israel should be boycotted also. It is not clear how much of ratepayer funds will be expended on this research.

    It is doubtful how fair dinkum the Greens Party councillors are, given that the resolution carried a month ago included a third point, that they would write to local parliamentary representatives “seeking their support at the state and federal level” and Greens mayor Fiona Byrne has not actually sent the correspondence.

    It’s not as if there are no policy challenges or local issues facing the mayor of Marrickville. The council is in the process of laying off staff, the mayor votes to close down Marrickville West Public School’s childcare centre which provides vital support to disadvantaged families and the Greens have opposed a series of modest affordable housing proposals.

    This ill thought-out attempt to challenge the state of Israel through a single local council in the inner west of Sydney is clumsy and counterproductive. I believe that engagement between peoples promotes understanding and tolerance and is worthwhile whether it be between national leaders or student exchanges.

    Progressives have long argued for multilateral solutions to foreign policy issues and have therefore emphasised the role of the UN and other institutions. The Marrickville Council resolution contradicts this with its unilateral declaration that sanctions will be imposed and funded by ratepayers.

    As Local Government Minister during Labor’s first term I saw many examples of how local government has moved beyond rates, roads and rubbish, particularly in service delivery and community engagement.

    International engagement through the development of sister cities programs is, in my view, positive as it promotes understanding and tolerance across geographic distances and cultural divides.

    As a strong advocate of justice for Palestinians I, along with Joe Hockey, established the parliamentary Friends of Palestine group and was its founding secretary. Any lasting resolution to the Middle East conflict cannot be at the expense of either Palestinians or Israelis. Surely contact and engagement between Palestinians and Israelis is a precondition for a peaceful settlement.

    If simplistic slogans were enough to resolve this issue it would have become a historical footnote of the last century.

    Australians are making a contribution to global tolerance by the way that we have developed as a multicultural society. The inner west of Sydney is a microcosm of what is desirable in the international community, a place where neighbours live in harmony regardless of religion or race.

    As it stands all those who attended the recent concerts of Leonard Cohen are in violation of the decree from the Marrickville mayor made on their behalf; lucky Cohen didn’t try to perform at the Enmore Theatre!

  4. Sergio says:

    Good for you Michael Danby, I have live in Newtown for over 25 years, this lot of Greens have gone off the rails. Their all talk(their veiws only) and no action (about our community needs) Removing Fiona will be a great start, then stop the sister city set up in Bethlehem, and let have a few sister cities in Queensland!

  5. Alan Lazarus says:

    An open letter to Minister Anthony Albanese:

    The Hon. Anthony Albanese,
    Minister for Infrastructure and Transport
    Australian Labour Party

    Dear Minister Albanese,

    I write to you in the hope that you will be able to clarify an issue of pressing concern to me.
    It has been brought to my attention that the Marrickville Council has recently adopted a resolution formally supporting the call for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel– a resolution moved by Greens councillor Cathy Peters.
    As I found the adoption of this resolution to be blatantly biased and counterproductive, I wrote to each of the eleven councillors in your seat of Marrickville to express my protest and concern.
    Not one of the four ALP councillors had either the decency or the common courtesy to respond. Of the three Independent councillors who DID respond, Councillor Dimitrios Thanos made the following admission, and I quote: “…quite frankly, the ALP pushed as hard if not harder than the Greens for the decision council made.”

    I quite candidly found Councillor Thanos’ revelation to be extraordinary from a number of points of view:
    Despite marked and basic differences in ideology, I have always perceived the ALP as being a humanistic, even-handed and egalitarian political movement, and that this fundamental decency and fairness has been reflected at every level of government including foreign affairs in general.
    The State of Israel is certainly not faultless and can, I believe, be validly criticised on a number of issues. But it is patently absurd to single out a fellow democracy– one with a vibrant and thriving judiciary and a proud record of civil rights– for censorship, vituperation and economic sanction ahead of regressive and vicious theocratic dictatorships such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and many Arab states with their shocking records of human rights violations and abuses, or totalitarian regimes such as Zimbabwe, China, Sudan…the list goes on and on.

    The questions that I pose to you are therefore as follows:
    1): If the above assertion by Councillor Thanos is correct (and I have no reason to doubt it’s veracity), does this signify that the Federal ALP has fundamentally amended it’s former even-handedness in international relations, and is now adopting a policy which is highly discriminatory and frankly anti-Semitic in Middle Eastern affairs?
    2): If the above is not the case, can it be that four representatives of the ALP on a petty local council can take it upon themselves to approve a motion which seems to be directly at variance with the policy delineated by the ALP at a Federal level? In other words, can we now assume that the future Foreign Policy directives of the Federal ALP
    will henceforth be dictated by local shire councillors in their panicked stampede to counter the shift to the Greens by the extreme Left section of the electorate?
    3): If item No. 2 above does not apply, can I rest assured that the councillors in question will be counselled to restrict themselves to the no-doubt demanding task of civil administration for which they were elected, and to leave the complex issues of foreign policy to the ex-prime-minister and his Department of Foreign Affairs?

    I trust you will be able to discern the importance I attach to obtaining a clarification on the above issues, as it seems to me that the current Foreign Policy of the ALP is becoming increasingly fragmented and chaotic as a result of a panicked response to the increasing appeal of the Greens for certain misguided elements of the Australian electorate.
    I therefore look forward to your considered and timeous response.
    Yours faithfully,
    Alan Lazarus

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