NZ Green Party MPs uses Hamas slogan

May 19, 2021 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The New Zealand Jewish Council has condemned the inflammatory comments and inaccurate statements made by two Green MPs in recent days, which risk stoking antisemitism and endangering Jews in New Zealand.

Ricardo Menendez March  Photo: Wikipedia

Following Saturday’s anti-Israel rally, Green MP Ricardo Menendez March posted on Twitter and Facebook photographs of himself and other Green MPs with the caption “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”.

This slogan is used by Hamas, the Islamist group that governs Gaza whose charter calls for the elimination of Israel and murder of Jews everywhere and whose military wing is classed as a terrorist organisation in New Zealand.  The slogan is widely understood to be a call for the elimination of the State of Israel and is considered to be antisemitic.  Despite an outcry on social media, Mr Menendez March has not removed the posts, and they have been shared by at least one other MP including co-leader Marama Davidson.

New Zealand Jewish Council president Stephen Goodman said, “Taken at its most mild possible interpretation, this slogan erases the right of Jews to self-determination.  At its most pernicious (and in the way intended by Hamas), it promotes genocide and ethnic cleansing.

Stephen Goodman

“It is an outrage that a member of a political party in New Zealand would use this slogan and that other members of the same party, including its co-leader, would endorse it by retweeting it.  It is arguably incitement to violence.”

Separately, Green MP Golriz Ghahraman has made several comments about the conflict that contain such significant errors of fact and serious omissions it should raise questions about her suitability for her role as Green Party Foreign Affairs spokesperson and her credibility. She has referred to the “violent displacement” of residents at Sheikh Jarrah and cited that as a pretext for the conflict, despite the fact that this long-running and complex private land dispute has not yet been decided by the Supreme Court, and the residents remain living there.  She has also said several times that the Hamas rockets have been fired at open areas, which is patently incorrect. The rockets have killed Israeli civilians including children causing serious damage and significant trauma.

During this devastating conflict, when tensions are high and the Jewish community is bracing itself for an increase in antisemitism, it is particularly important that MPs, whatever their sympathies and biases, act responsibly, by being factual and avoiding language that incites disharmony.

The New Zealand Jewish Council’s president Stephen Goodman wrote to the co-leaders of the Green Party James Sha and Marama Davidson.

Golriz Ghahraman   Photo: Wikipedia

He said that the Green Party of Aotearoa to have “a significant problem of antisemitism.”

He pointed out that the American Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt wrote ‘when protesters chant ‘Palestine will be free from the river to the sea,’ it is appropriately interpreted by most people as a call for the erasure of Israel – and it is anti- Semitic.”

In his letter, Stephen Goodman wrote: “Taken at its most mild possible interpretation, this slogan erases the right of Jews to self-determination. At its most pernicious (and in the way intended by Hamas), it promotes genocide and ethnic cleansing.

It is an outrage that a member of a political party in New Zealand would use this slogan and that other members of the same party, including its co-leader, would endorse it by retweeting it. It is arguably incitement to violence.”

The letter also pointed out another member of The Greens,  Golriz Ghahraman  “shared the Green Party’s official statement on the conflict between Hamas and Israel. It contains significant errors of facts and omissions.

For example it accuses the IDF of “violent and forced displacement of the Palestinian Sheikh Jarrah community”. This long-running, controversial and complex private land dispute has not yet concluded, and in fact was deferred last week in order to de-escalate the situation. As yet there has been no displacement, violent or otherwise. There may never be. It is not clear to us why Ms Ghahraman has predetermined the outcome of a decision of a court.”

The letter continues: “Ms Ghahraman’s statement also incorrectly accuses Israel of “indiscriminate bombing”, whereas, as international media and observers confirm, Israel’s strikes are targeted, and include warnings to minimise civilian casualties. It is well-documented that Hamas operates in civilian areas, including mosques, hospitals, schools and residential buildings. Most concerningly, it fails to condemn Hamas for its indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israelis, which unlike Israel’s retaliatorystrikes, do not target military objectives or provide warnings, but are intended to harm civilians.”

When asked why the statement did not condemn Hamas, Ms Ghahraman replied, “If we condemn rockets being shot into an area with no real chance of reaching a place where civilians live as being en par with one of the world’s most powerful defence forces indiscriminately bombing a trapped civilian communities (after days of that defence force violently forcing a civilian community from their homes) that would be artificially and unjustly creating a false equivalence.”

He further stated: “This is clearly factually completely incorrect; hundreds of Hamas rockets have landed in high-density areas, causing casualties and loss of life, and forcing Israelis – including our family and friends – into bomb shelters. It is a double war crime to shoot rockets from a civilian population at a civilian population. She did not correct her statement even after the factual inaccuracy was brought to her attention. Also, as previously mentioned, no civilian community has been forcibly removed from their homes.

This is not a case of a simple error; she has ignored the loss of life on the Israeli side presumably to fit her political narrative. It is one thing to omit to mention rockets, and another to become an apologist for them and the terrorist group – the military wing of Hamas is designated by New Zealand as a terror organisation – firing them.

This is part of a pattern of behaviour from Ms Ghahraman. We believe her frequent errors of fact, distortions of truth and inflammatory and harmful rhetoric call into question her suitability in the role of foreign affairs spokesperson. The cumulative effect suggests a deeply entrenched bias, a lack of accountability, a recklessness with facts, and a callous disregard for the impact of her behaviour.”

Stephen Goodman ended by writing: “We ask for an apology and retraction regarding the “from the river to the sea” slogan, and in the light of that, a clear re-affirmation that the Party supports self-determination for the Jewish and Palestinian people and a right for them each to live in peace and security. We also ask that your party condemns the rocket attacks by Hamas, given its previous omission”

The Green Party failed to respond to the Council’s letter, as requested, within 24 hours.

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