Australia/Israel Review


Fringe Dwellers

Mar 29, 2022 | Naomi Levin

Then Greens leader Richard di Natale joining with the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) on a petition regarding children in detention in 2018 (Image: Facebook)
Then Greens leader Richard di Natale joining with the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) on a petition regarding children in detention in 2018 (Image: Facebook)

Pre-election extremism from the Greens and UAP

 

With a federal election due in May, the AIR has examined some of the extremist rhetoric coming from two of the minor parties expected to play a significant role in the upcoming poll – the Australian Greens and the United Australia Party (UAP).

 

How Green was my Boycott

This parliamentary term, it seems the Australian Greens’ policy of opposing boycotts of Israel has been binned. 

The party has openly and repeatedly called on the Australian Government to impose a military boycott of Israel. A Senator publicly congratulated artists who boycotted the Sydney Festival because the festival accepted sponsorship from the Israeli Embassy. And a rank-and-file Greens group circulated a petition calling for Australian universities to sever ties with Israeli universities.

First, a bit of history. At its March 2010 conference, the Australian Greens explicitly rejected a resolution to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. This rejection came under the leadership of Bob Brown. Brown’s successor Christine Milne reiterated this position in 2012, as did her successor Richard Di Natale in 2015. 

But it was under Di Natale that this position became increasingly compromised. Under current leader Adam Bandt, it seems to have been effectively discarded entirely – albeit without any formal change to the published official party platform.

Supporters of BDS claim it is a non-violent human rights movement seeking to persuade Israel to withdraw to its pre-1967 borders. But leaders of the BDS movement have publicly acknowledged their campaign is intended to end the existence of Israel. Meanwhile, the movement’s tactics have frequently led to discrimination against not only Israelis, but non-Israeli Jews who support Israel’s right to continue to exist as a Jewish homeland. This has led to legal efforts to curtail BDS discriminatory actions in numerous US states and in France, and to proposed anti-BDS laws in Britain. 

It was the BDS movement that inspired a fringe group of Palestinian activists to bully performers into withdrawing from the Sydney Festival earlier this year after learning the festival had solicited and accepted modest sponsorship from the Israeli Embassy in Canberra for a dance performance. Boycott organisers claimed the Israeli sponsorship meant the festival was “culturally unsafe” for anyone who is opposed to “racism and colonialism”.

While one politically unaffiliated group, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Australia, celebrated the boycott as the “most successful boycott campaign since the anti-apartheid movement against South African apartheid,” the reality is that the overwhelming majority of Sydney Festival performances went ahead undisrupted.

One high-profile backer of the Sydney Festival boycott was Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi. On Jan. 10, she tweeted, “My full support to the courageous artists who have withdrawn from @sydney_festival due to its partnership with the Israeli Embassy … Solidarity with everyone standing against artwashing apartheid. Justice for Palestine!”

This tweet looks very much like support for BDS – but to the Australia/Israel Review’s knowledge, Senator Faruqi was not disciplined or reprimanded for expressing a view that is contrary to the party’s official policy.

In addition, to the knowledge of the Australia/Israel Review, nobody has sought to put any distance between the Australian Greens and its grassroots group, Greens NSW for Palestine, after the latter shared posts praising artists who joined the boycott. 

Nor did the Australian Greens sanction Greens NSW for Palestine when it asked its Facebook followers to sign a petition calling for a ban in Australia on the import of “settlement goods and services.” And a petition remains on the group’s Facebook page calling for an end to a partnership between the University of Technology Sydney and Haifa’s Technion because the Technion is supposedly “complicit in the Israeli Government’s grave breaches of international law and human rights conventions in relation to Palestine.” These are key tactics of the global BDS movement being practised by a Greens-affiliated group.

Support from Senator Faruqi and Greens NSW for Palestine for the Sydney Festival boycott followed the introduction of a Greens policy, in May 2021, officially calling for Australia to impose a military boycott on Israel.

The boycott call, part of a resolution passed at the Greens National Conference on May 16, demanded the Australian Government “halt military cooperation and military trade with Israel.”

The Greens do not actually specify a reason why such a military boycott is warranted. It seems especially puzzling, given Australia’s military relationship with Israel benefits Australia significantly through imports of defence technology. Additionally, the intelligence relationship between the countries is known to have helped thwart terrorist attacks, including an Islamic State plot to blow up a plane and conduct a chemical weapons attack in Australia in 2017.

The Greens Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Senator Janet Rice, confirmed the intent of the national conference resolution by writing to Foreign Minister Senator Marise Payne calling on her to impose a military boycott on Israel because Israel is “credibly alleged to have committed human rights violations.”

Senator Rice’s request to Senator Payne – which unsurprisingly was not acted on by the Government – came as the ink was still drying on a ceasefire that ended nearly two weeks of conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza in 2021.

That conflict, according to the Greens, was “sparked by injustice and Israeli Government policies in Jerusalem,” according to Senator Rice. 

This is, to be blunt, bogus. There is no doubt that there is an ongoing messy and unfortunate private legal dispute over ownership rights over a small number of properties in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of east Jerusalem. But to try to spread the notion that Hamas, supported by its benefactor Iran, had no role in provoking the 11-day conflict is factually indefensible. It misses entirely the fact that Palestinian leadership had been inciting violence for weeks in the lead up to the conflict, that there had been unprovoked attacks by Palestinians on Jewish Israelis, and that Palestinian rioters had planned and carried out violent riots at the Al-Aqsa Mosque – and that a civil dispute in Jerusalem became a military conflict between Israel and Hamas-led Gaza when Hamas committed the war crime of firing dozens of missiles at civilian targets inside Israel on May 10. 

Yet, in all the material that the Australia/Israel Review has examined from Greens Members of Parliament and supporter groups during and after that conflict, there is not one mention of Hamas. 

Hamas is of course the terrorist organisation that was responsible for the firing of more than 4000 rockets into Israeli neighbourhoods, kindergartens and restaurant strips, and which was responsible for not only 12 Israeli deaths, but many more Gazan deaths due to misfiring rockets and the group’s penchant for co-locating military facilities in residential neighbourhoods. The closest the Greens came to mentioning Hamas and its blatantly illegal tactics was a nebulous reference to an “opposition to any violence… which impacts innocent civilians” in the 2021 National Conference Resolution.

Senator Faruqi, who rallied in support of Palestinians and made multiple speeches raising awareness about the Palestinian plight, closed out 2021 by insisting to the Senate that people like her are being silenced.

“The ultimate taboo in Australian politics is to talk about the human rights of the Palestinian people,” she said. 

As soon as anyone raises Palestinian human rights, Senator Faruqi told the Senate, “you are hounded and you are condemned. Shamefully and shamelessly, they try to label you as antisemitic, all designed to shut you up, to silence you.”

It is interesting that Senator Faruqi’s devotion to raising awareness of the human rights of the Palestinian people does not appear to extend to condemning Hamas – which violently cracks down against dissenters, arbitrarily arrests journalists, supports honour killings and criminalises homosexuality. Hamas is now being proscribed as a terrorist organisation in its entirety by the Australian Government – a decision not a single Greens MP welcomed or publicly supported.

Senator Faruqi’s views – and by implication those of her party – on Israel, boycotts, and the Palestinians should now be clear to readers of the Australia/Israel Review. What should also be clear to readers is the obsolescence of the party’s traditional stance opposing BDS. The Australian public, and especially voters, should be taking this new radical Greens stance into consideration in all interactions with the party. 

 

Like some of his candidates, UAP leader Craig Kelly has his own history of inappropriate Nazi analogies (Image: Facebook)

Kelly gang shoots from the lip

United Australia Party (UAP) candidates running in seats with sizeable Jewish communities have spread conspiracy theories associated with antisemitic tropes and drawn inappropriate and disrespectful comparisons between local public health orders and Nazi Germany.

The UAP is the populist political party founded by Queensland-based businessman and one-time Member of Parliament Clive Palmer, and today led by former Liberal MP and current crossbencher, Craig Kelly.

Jefferson Earl has been pre-selected as the UAP candidate for Macnamara, the inner-Melbourne seat currently held by Labor’s Josh Burns. The heavily Jewish suburbs of Caulfield, St Kilda East and Elsternwick are all part of Macnamara.

Earl is active on social media, where he has a Twitter account, and also a video channel on BitChute. 

BitChute is an uncensored video-sharing platform rife with antisemitism, conspiracy theories and hate speech. Why not the much more widely used YouTube? Presumably because Earl’s views are so far from mainstream, they would likely be classified as misinformation and removed by content moderators on the Google-owned site.

For some time, Earl has opposed COVID-19 vaccination and promoted alternate medical therapies as effective treatments. He has joined protests at Victorian Parliament and recorded videos outside the Shrine of Remembrance for his small number of Twitter followers.

Earl has also posted a multitude of comparisons between local public health measures and Nazi Germany.

On July 7, 2021, on the cusp of one of Melbourne’s lengthy lockdowns, Earl shared a Tweet with a large photo of Adolf Hitler, comparing the Nazi dictator’s purported political strategy to that of Australia.

On Sept. 6, 2021, Earl called Victoria’s Premier, “Hitler @DanielAndrewsMP”, and on Sept. 22 he tweeted at Victoria Police enforcing public health measures during lockdowns “enough you Nazis”. On Sept. 14, the UAP candidate called vaccine certificates “#nazipassports”.

Making such inappropriate Nazi analogies and labelling leaders making decisions, however controversial, within democratic societies as comparable to Adolf Hitler cheapens the crimes of the Nazis, and shows disrespect to the millions of victims of Nazi Germany and its genocidal policies.

Yet to the best of our knowledge Earl has not been reprimanded for his social media posts by party leader Kelly. In 2020, Kelly himself compared Victorian lockdowns to Nazi Germany and while he apologised to his “many good friends in the Jewish community,” the comparisons have spread unchecked among UAP supporters and candidates.

In addition to engaging in such inappropriate and ugly analogies, Earl has warned of signs of the coming of a “new world order”. The new world order conspiracy theory posits that there is a cabal of world leaders who are seeking to spread repressive, socialist or tyrannical policies. It is very often linked to Jewish business leaders or politicians and has echoes of the old Protocol of the Elders of Zion-based conspiracy theories that Jews are seeking to control the world through commerce, politics or the media.

On Sept. 11, 2021, Earl tweeted “Vitamin D is critical in case reduction and preventing serious disease of Covid-19. Anyone else noticing very strange cloud formations? Check this yesterday in Melbourne. This is not normal, look at the straight line and the whispy [sic] trail it’s leaving. New World Order?”

A few months later, he tweeted that Melbourne is the “test case for the New World Order.”

In recent weeks, Earl has also taken to Twitter to express his support for Russian President Vladimir Putin and condemn Western support for Ukraine.

“Every Australian needs to DEMAND that governments back off Russia immediately,” he wrote on Jan. 25.

On Feb. 21, he tweeted, “Russia deserves security. NATO should stop expanding on Russia’s borders.”

Two days later, he admitted to his Twitter followers that his views on Putin were not UAP policy.

In the neighbouring electorate of Higgins, held by Liberal MP Katie Allen, UAP candidate Ingram Spencer has filmed himself being reprimanded – though not arrested – by police after an altercation at a Malvern church over mandatory mask rules.

Spencer, who shares his unorthodox views on COVID-19 on Twitter, has also shared material apparently deploying inappropriate and disrespectful Nazi analogies with his small number of followers. On Feb. 15 this year, he retweeted an image that distorted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s face to look like Hitler’s. A few days later, in response to another tweet about Canada, he wrote “absolute Nazis”.

Spencer is also interested in the “new world order” conspiracy theory, sharing a meme featuring Putin with the text, “Do you know why your media programs you to hate me? Because I told them the new world order is not welcome in my land.”

He has also shared conspiracy theories accusing the World Economic Forum (WEF) of planning to genetically engineer humans and accusing Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky of somehow being directed by the WEF and global elites, including Hungarian-born Jewish businessman and philanthropist George Soros.

Spencer, who appears to favour loosening gun control laws in Australia, also shared a conspiracy theory denying Port Arthur Massacre gunman Martin Bryant ever fired a shot during the massacre.

The UAP has claimed it will run a candidate in every seat at the upcoming federal election. AIJAC urges voters to research the UAP candidate in their seat before considering casting their ballot for them.

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