Two ALP issues

September 18, 2012 by Michael Danby
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Labor stalwart Michael Danby updates J-Wire on the Government support for World Vision which in turn is supporting an an alleged an anti-Israel NGO and the motion against BDS in Parliament last week….

From Federal Labor MP Michael Danby:

Michael Danby

The allegations regarding the funding of the UAWC are disturbing. That is precisely why they have been investigated. There is no suggestion that funds directed to the UAWC have been transferred to any terrorist group, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), with the knowledge of the government or its foreign aid arm AusAID. Were that the case, and as the Foreign Minister has specifically stated, the funding would cease immediately. What is true, and this is not in contention, is that the matter was investigated when allegations were made by the Israeli based civil right organization Shurat HaDin, the Israeli Law Centre. I admire the work of Shurat HaDin and its courageous efforts to “bankrupt terrorism”. They have every right to raise matters as they have regarding the AusAID funding. However, governments make decisions based on a multitude of inputs, and nowhere is this as fraught as foreign aid. This is especially so in an environment where a cynical Opposition is prepared to use foreign aid and the government’s intention to increase the aid budget as a wedge issue.

In general there is bi-partisan support for foreign aid, and though the Foreign Minister was in this case questioned closely on the AusAID funding by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Abetz, even that Senator would acknowledge that aid to the UAWC not only began under the Howard Government in 2005, but was also later renewed by then Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.

AusAID and World Vision Australia conducted investigations into the funding of the UAWC. In the light of further evidence provided Shurat HaDin, it re-examined the issue. UAWC is a registered NGO with both the Israeli Ministry of Justice and the Palestinian Authority. It has partnership programs with many other international agencies, UN representative bodies and the World Bank. Rather than merely seek yet another opinion from yet another player, what precisely does the JN want the FM to do, and on what legal basis? What evidence is there that the UAWC is in violation of section 21 of the Charter of the United Nations Act, 1945. People can throw out any manner of accusation, but in the real world of bilateral relationships our Foreign Minister can hardly be expected to supplant not only the investigation of reputable NGOs, but also the views of the Government of Israel. UAWC has been registered as a not-for-profit organisation with the Israeli Ministry of Justice since 1996, most recently renewed in March this year. If Israel and its Ministry of Justice is not prepared to deregister the UAWC, what does the JN suggest would be the appropriate action by the Foreign Minister?

Re the BDS nonsense resolution in the Senate the Foreign Minister’s release reads: “The Australian Government strongly opposes the Boycott Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) campaign… we fiercely, unequivocally, strongly oppose BDS.”

Colin Rubenstein, Executive Director of The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, did not seek to take issue with the FM, and acknowledged that the Opposition’s motion contained procedural flaws that preempted government support. He stated, “Foreign Minister Bob Carr’s forthright and unequivocal remarks condemning attempts to promote boycotts, divestment, and sanctions directed against Israel is an important statement of principle by the Commonwealth Government.”

The Foreign Minister could not have been clearer as to why we opposed a most mischievous motion in the Senate.  Our actions speak louder than words – the ALP was the first major party to take this issue on with the most aggressive, confrontational campaign targeting the crazy Greens-led Marrickville Council, forcing them to overturn their BDS agenda.

There are real issues that we have to deal with as Jews and Australians. As I explained in Parliament that I has been forced to face hard truths in the asylum debate, and admitted that I was wrong not to have previously supported an element of offshore processing. That is a real issue. The increase in refugee intake to 20,000 (and later 27,000) is a real issue. The Government’s commitment to ongoing funding to independent schools and its massive financial contribution to Jewish school security is a real issue. Even if Premier O’Farrell’s cuts to Jewish schools in NSW is simply capped over the next 4 years, this may lead to Jewish schools being unaffordable and closing. If what is being enacted in NSW is planned by Mr Abbott for all Jewish schools in Australia? This issue of the Liberals defunding Jewish schools is of more “tachlis” for Jewish parents and students all over Australia than seeking advantage over a symbolic resolution in the Senate.

The consistent bi-partisan opposition to the BDS, the anti-Zionist crackpots and their Greens supporters (and not procedural issues in the Senate) is a real issue. The reasons we support section 18C of the Racial Vilification Act, when Tony Abbott wants it removed, is a real issue. People standing outside legitimate businesses screaming for blood is a real issue. The existential threat to Israel’s survival and Australia’s steadfast support for the State of Israel is a real issue.

The trend by conservative forces in Australia to adopt the political strategy of the Tea Party in the United States has enormous consequences, but particularly for our community. I urge the community to resist the temptation of cheap political stunts and slogans and maintain their centrist, rational and moderate attitude to the issues that vitally matter to our community – including our longstanding bipartisanship on foreign policy and support for Israel.

Editor’s Note:  The UAWC’s web site carries the following mission statement:  “Union of Agricultural Work Committees is a non-profit organization that was established in 1986 in order to protect land from being expropriated by the Government of Israel, and to improve the performance and professionalism of Palestinian farmers. The Union also aims to help Palestinian farmers market their produce and provides agricultural employment opportunities through a framework of cooperation with domestic, Arab, and international agricultural development institutions.”


4 Responses to “Two ALP issues”
  1. Otto Waldmann says:

    Michael Danby’s record of support for Israel in Parliament notwithstanding, the above presentation is so intellectually slack that any sensible person would be justified in feeling offended by some of his lines of argument.

    I am offended to read Danby’s arguments in favour of a deficient Labor inteverntion against the BDS motion in the Senate.
    a. throws invectives and accusatory political rubbish without a basis at the opposing Liberals,’ motion qualifying it as “non-sensical” without explainig simply WHY. Danby dismisses without any explanation the merits of the motion as a conservative ploy, again without providing any explanation.

    b. instead of concentrating on the motion itself Danby derails the “argument” on the BDS to matters totally NOT associated with, the issue at hand, derailing irrationally the discussion toward a Labor Party propaganda blubber so erratic that one wonders what Michael was smoking at the time of writing his messy stuff.

    c Danby, in this case, serves with loyalty his Labor Party dogma at the expense of the Jewish expectations and, indeed, necessities.

    Perfunctory statements of concerns for Israel by Labor and, conversely variegated accents of support for Jewish causes by Danby, make for a questionable reliance on the only Labor support we seemed to have had in the Federal Parliament.

    I am not impressed at all !!!! but hope that my opposing view shall find its way on this open democratic forum.

  2. Michael says:

    I agree Rita I will bet. Our ever so P C
    Jewish community leaders will side with the Muslims
    And reject Wilders for being too pro Israel

  3. Rita says:

    Oh, I forgot:

    “World Vision” have lost my charity dollar from the time when their boss (and darling of the Left) Tim Costello became party-political and campaigned against his brother, Peter Costello.

    “UN” I cannot understand how anyone can still have respect for them. I recommend you to have a look at UN Watch

    Now there is an NGO who deserves support.

  4. Rita says:

    I wonder where Mr. Danby’s loyalties would go, were he obliged to make a choice of one at the expense of the other: towards his Labor party or towards the Jewish people?

    It is true, as Mr. Danby says, that Labor stood against the Greens-led Marrickville Council. But was this not mainly due to the political interest of Minister Albanese’s wife? And is not his party taking orders from the still rabidly anti-Jewish/Israel Greens?

    Mr. Danby “urges the community to resist the temptation of cheap political stunts and slogans (from the conservatives) yet in the same sentence he seems to do just that when he accuses “conservative forces in Australia to adopt the political strategy of the Tea Party in the United States”. Incidentally, I think that the Tea Party would have less of a problem in recognizing the capital of Israel than Obama who is certainly not the best friend the Jewish people ever had.

    I am cynical enough to suspect that we are in election mode already, so I do ask myself, what kind of votes was Labor seeking when they sent a representation to IRAN recently to worship at the feet of Adolf Ahmadinejad ? While the conservative Deputy Opposition Leader , Julie Bishop, condemned this very strongly and recognised it for what it was: a slap in the face of Israel.

    I also wonder what pressure our Labor government is giving into by refusing a visa to the very pro-Israel Geert Wilders, a member of the Dutch parliament, while they grant a visa to a jihadist-hate preacher, who, I am sure, had nothing “nice” to say about the Jews or Israel.

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