One of the key organisations in Australia in the forefront of promoting good relations between Australians of many and varying ethnic and religious backgrounds is the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia (FECCA).
In its activities, it has promoted positive cultural diversity, dialogue and equity in the receipt of government services. In recent times it has also been prominent in opposing racism.
In February this year, organisations and individuals on the distribution list for material from one FECCA affiliate were shocked to receive offensive material in the form of a community newsletter sent out with the disclaimer that it was “for information only” and not necessarily endorsed by that state’s Ethnic Communities’ Council.
The problem arose due in part to a naïve view that groups which have experienced racism will not involve themselves in racist activities – despite notorious examples such as Sheikh Hilaly’s antisemitism and all the racist invective in arguments between rival communities from the Balkans and other areas of ethnic conflict.
In light of the discussions and reflections as a result of the circulation of this material, it is to be hoped that this will not be repeated, and also that other organisations will be more wary of distributing material from contentious sources.
The existence of bigotry, prejudice and racism is unfortunately far from absent in Australia, but in this instance the shock was that it was disseminated through a body promoting multiculturalism.
SBS is another institution which has a mission of promoting better understanding by Australians of other Australians, which made a recent comment by one of its highest profile commentators a degree worse than if it had arisen in some other context.
Interviewing Richard Dawkins, the man introduced as “the world’s most militant atheist”, George Negus referred to “this whole Mossad situation where you have people who are, I imagine, of the Jewish religious faith, who are secretly killing people in the name of God”.
I admit that to reach such a level of ignorance, bigotry, subliminal prejudice and sublime offensiveness was quite an achievement, but one which reflects terribly on the person who made the comment and brings enormous discredit to our multicultural broadcaster.
While this comment was inane, it was not necessarily conscious and calculated – unlike the decision of “Students for Palestine” to bring to Australia Sameer Habeeb, whose “Palestine Telegraph” website hosts extreme and bizarre antisemitism on a regular basis.
Readers of Habeeb’s website, which you can presume would include not only the Socialist Alternative, its associated group Students for Palestine, the organisers of the Marxism 2010 Conference at Melbourne University and the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney, would have learnt, amongst other things:
“WWI and WW2 were planned in advance for the sake of a group following the dictates of Zionism.”
WW2 was to benefit these Judeo Zionists. These people pre-planned and meticulously executed the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Jews and “Zionist Talmudic ideology” are behind campaigns to restrict Muslim women wearing veils.
Israel “imported 25 thousand Ukrainian children in the past two years for harvesting their organs.”
Israel sent medical teams to Haiti not to help victims but for “exploiting fresh corpses.”
The fact is Habeeb is also associated with promoting Hamas, which is not “Marxist”, “Socialist”, in favour of “Peace” or promoting an agenda his hosts could conceivably support – unless hatred for Israel and/or Jews outweighs all other considerations.
Socialist Alternative and Students for Palestine have track records of extreme anti-Israel invective, and in hosting Habeeb show the depths to which they are willing to sink in their fanatic campaigns, while their co-hosts have revealed either extremely poor judgement or their own disgraceful prejudices.