A response to Parke

October 28, 2014 by J-Wire Staff
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Melbourne Victorian MP David Southwick has condemned a pro BDS speech made in Federal Parliament yesterday by WA Labor MP Melissa Parke.

David Southwick

David Southwick

Southwick condemned the following comments made by ALP Member for Fremantle Melissa Parke MP which encouraged the boycott, divestment and sanctions of those involved with Israel.

Southwick told J-Wire: “The BDS movement stands as one of the most reprehensible cases of racism in modern times and I condemn the ALP Member for Fremantle for encouraging the discrimination of others because of their Jewish or Israeli connections,” Mr Southwick said.

“The Victorian and Federal Coalition continue to demonstrate their strong support of Israel, and it’s time Labor got their house in order and take a unified stand by condemning the BDS protests which only incite anti-semitsm and hatred in our community .”

What the Australian Parliament heard from Ms Parke yesterday…

Ms PARKE (Fremantle) (21:00): What I am to say today will likely not be popular in this place or indeed in the wider community. However, there comes a time when the injustices have so mounted up that plain speaking becomes a duty. This year is the UN International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. However, despite overwhelming support within the international community for a Palestinian state and for an end to the Israeli occupation and settlement building, as well as the blockade of Gaza, there has not been any positive change for Palestinians on the ground. Rather, recent events have left more than 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza dead and thousands more injured, while more than a million Palestinians—who are a proud, educated and enterprising people—are dependent on food aid and there is a massive damage bill to be picked up again by the international community. Meanwhile settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem continues apace, each build putting a further nail in the coffin of the two-state solution.

We know that violence is not the solution. We affirm that the rockets fired from Gaza into Israel are an illegal response to Israel’s actions. But it does beg the question: what then is the alternative to the vicious cycle of bloodshed we have witnessed in recent months? What is a legal and justified response to actions by Israel that the international community agrees are illegal? In my view, non-violent means of protest are and must be seen as legitimate. It is notable that both Israel and the US approve of boycotts and sanctions against other states such as Iran and Brunei, so why is it objectionable to boycott a state that is, among other things, committing repeated, grave violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention as Israel does with its illegal settlements?

Melissa Parke

Melissa Parke

I now present a petition delivered to me by University of Wollongong academic and former Israel soldier, Dr Marcelo Svirsky, following his completion of a 10-day walk over 300 kilometres from Sydney to Canberra to draw the attention of the House to the plight of the Palestinian people and requesting the government to honour its obligations under international law.

The petition read as follows—

To the Honourable The Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives

Source House Proof Yes

Responder Question No.

This petition of citizens and residents of Australia draws to the attention of the House the critical predicament of the Palestinian People in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza under Israeli occupation since 1967 and of the Palestinian citizens of Israel suffering racial discrimination since 1948.

Notwithstanding UN resolutions condemning Israel’s policies as illegal, Israel continues violating international law and human rights, expanding its colonies in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, imposing a siege on Gaza, and persisting in apartheid and oppressive actions, policies and legislation towards the Palestinian people under its control.

As a response to the failure of all forms of diplomacy to change Israel’s policies, in 2005 the Palestinian Civil Society called upon the world to impose on Israel initiatives of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) until Israel meets its obligation to end all forms of occupation; dismantles the illegal ‘Separation Wall’ in the West Bank; ceases the siege on Gaza; implements full equality for its Palestinian citizens; and honours the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties.

WE THEREFORE ASK THE HOUSE to instruct the Australian Government to fully and consistently honour its obligations under international law by excluding relations, through boycott, divestment and sanctions, with states, institutions and companies – Australian, Israeli or other – that are involved in the perpetuation of apartheid and discriminatory Israeli policies including the occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

from 701 citizens

Petition received.

Ms PARKE: The petition asks the government to exclude relations through boycott, divestment and sanctions with states, institutions and companies that are involved in the perpetuation of discriminatory Israeli policies, including the occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

The BDS campaign has received an enormous amount of negative press in Australia, much of which is undeserved. I am not seeking to validate all of the actions that have occurred in the name of BDS, because it can mean different things to different people. However, I do wish to dispel some of the misunderstandings around the official BDS campaign, including that its supporters are anti-Semitic and intent on the destruction of Israel. That is not the case; it is not anti-Semitic to protest injustice. And as noted by Peter Slezak writing in New Matilda:

… BDS is directed against many non-Jewish, non- Israeli companies such as Veolia, G4S and Caterpillar, which are profiting from the illegal occupation of Palestinian land.

The US organisation Jewish Voice for Peace has observed that ‘BDS is a viable democratic and non- violent response to the horrific policies of the state of Israel against Palestinians’.

Richard Falk, Professor of International Law at Princeton and a former UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Territories, has said that the ‘BDS movement provides a hopeful way of writing the future history of Palestine in the legal and moral language of rights, rather than the bloody deeds of warfare’. Nobel Peace Prize and Sydney Peace Prize recipient Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said:

If we had not struggled so hard in the anti apartheid movement, Nelson Mandela would have died in jail. The Boycott Divestment Sanctions Movement is as important as the anti apartheid struggle. I urge you all to support it.

In July this year 17 European Union countries warned their citizens against engagement in business deals or investing in the illegal Israeli settlements or with bodies connected to them in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The European warnings described the settlements as ‘illegal under international law’, warning that ‘individuals or companies who engage in any economic deals with them could face legal and financial risks and harm their image’.

As said by Philip Gordon, the White House coordinator for the Middle East, in early July:

How will [Israel] have peace if it is unwilling to delineate a border, end the occupations and allow for Palestinian sovereignty, security, and dignity?

… it cannot maintain military control of another people indefinitely. Doing so is not only wrong but a recipe for resentment and recurring instability.

As I have said on other occasions, the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinians is a source of distress and frustration for millions of people around the world,

especially people from Muslim and Arab countries, and it is a powerful recruitment tool for extremist groups. If we are genuinely concerned about national and global security as well as international justice, we, along with other nations, including the US, should be insisting that Israel do its part to lay the groundwork for peace by, among other things, ending its illegal occupation, settlement construction and the Gaza blockade. Until this happens, BDS is a perfectly acceptable form of protest and I congratulate Dr Marcelo Svirsky for his courageous walk and his brave stand.


10 Responses to “A response to Parke”
  1. Scott Leonard says:

    Another sad example of how democracy can fail when such words can be spoken freely in our Parliament by such an ignorant elected official.

    • Adrian Jackson says:

      My local MHR Michael Danby ALP (Melbourne Ports) has been quiet on this issue.

  2. ken budd says:

    Are you suggesting a BDS on Israel because the defend their citizens from Hamas rockets fired into civilian areas, schools and kindergartens?

    Would you really prefer to see Israel destroyed and sha’ir law with Hamas ruling the region?

    Israel gives humanitarian aid to Palestinian Arabs and the World, what do the Arabs give?

    Would an informed person really support the BDS against Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East?

  3. Adrian Jackson says:

    British born Jewish comedian and international actress Miriam Margolyes was on John Faine (ABC Radio 774) today and was talking about Palestine. She said that she did not think that @Israel should exist@ which is pretty out there for a Jew. She started out in the 1960’s with the John Cleese crew and recently she has appeared in Harry Potter film(s). She now lives in Australia and is about to start a one woman show about an A list female Jewish actors agent in the US who died recently.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Miriam Margolyes is trying real hard to compensate her thespian mediocrity with political activism of the geshmate kind.
      Who cares………………..!!!

      • Adrian Jackson says:

        A 1930’s Governor General of Australia, Sir Isaac Isaacs, thought that to establish a Jewish state in Palestine would not be in the interests of the Jews.

  4. Adrian Jackson says:

    I noticed yesterday that the Max Brenner chocolate shop in Clarendon St, South Melbourne, has recently closed and all the fittings and fitments have been stripped out. BDS had a few small protests outside which was mostly handing out leaflets however it probably closed due to lack of patronage or a rent increase. It was opposite the decades established, clean and very popular “Old Paper Shop Deli” (it was a thriving business in 1980 when I forst noticed it) that is run by business savvy Lebanese Auastralians.

  5. Otto Waldmann says:

    I am really impressed by David Southwick, the bloke i the picture who made the news.
    To some thousand words of crap and vile produced by some half-wit nobody in Parliament, OUR David found the crowd stopping approx. 43 words all thanks to his high political position. Onya David !!!
    ( would it bloody well hurt you to say something about all that idiotic dribble your fellow parliamentarian carried on about !!! Where did you complete your speech/political science studies !!?? Must have been the Faculty of Bricklayin’ or Gas Fitters ).

    Oh G-d, give us some guys with real guts and sechel for a change !!!!!!

  6. Rachel Sabarit says:

    Words fail me. How can Israel be doing such a poor job of Hasbara that this otherwise bright looking young woman would’ve bought the Palestinian narrative hook line and sinker as she has? Or does Israel just not give a damn about worldwide condemnation? Surely they’ll care when it starts to impact the bottom line?

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