Australia/Israel Review

The Last Word: Motion sickness

Oct 27, 2022 | Jeremy Jones

Former PLO official Eddie Zananiri (YouTube screenshot)
Former PLO official Eddie Zananiri (YouTube screenshot)

Local government plays an essential role in providing services and community building, yet some councillors appear determined to depart from their responsibilities and duties and become involved in issues on which they have no expertise and even less authority.

The Canterbury Bankstown Council, in southwest Sydney, demonstrated a dearth of decency and self-awareness with the recent adoption of a document called the “Sydney Statement on Anti-Palestinianism.”

The mover of the motion, Labor Councillor Christopher Cahill, turned international law on its head, spouted meaningless anti-Israel cliches, and presented dubious contentions as fact, before claiming that this endorsement of the maximalist Palestinian political agenda was “simply a plea for a very basic level of fairness and human rights for all.”

In either a bad-taste joke or a sign of complete lack of a grasp of reality, Cahill told the Daily Telegraph, “I don’t think any fair-minded person with even a passing interest in social justice could object” to the motion, which is in fact a pretty superficial attempt to provide cover to people who employ racism in attacking Israel or Jewish aspirations.

Eddie Zananiri, whose organisation produced the document, thundered that the resolution would allow people “to express and speak about the current oppression and to confront the oppressors legitimately without being hindered by fabricated accusations of anti-Semitism (sic).” 

Zananiri is best known as a former activist and leader of the General Union of Palestinian Students, one of the most extreme units of the PLO.

Canterbury Bankstown Mayor, Khal Asfour, demonstrating amazing delusions of relevancy, claimed his Council had, through the resolution, “provided space for residents concerned to speak their mind on the rights of Palestinian people” and was about “their long overdue aspirations for self-determination on their own land.”

On SBS Radio, Hassan Moussa promoted the statement as a device to fight what he described as fear of speaking out against Israel.

There is no contradiction in supporting dignity and respect for both Israelis and Palestinians – yet for supporters of this motion, doing so is “anti-Palestinianism”!

The Councillors have embarrassed their office – and also the parties they represent.

Not to be outdone by these local government representatives, the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) demonstrated that education is no guarantee of wisdom, morality or basic decency.

A far-left group which failed miserably at winning control of the Union through a popular ballot managed to have a resolution passed which, as academic Phillip Mendes wrote, “contains multiple falsehoods and blatant misrepresentations” in its all-out assault on positive relations between both Australians and Israelis and Palestinians and Israelis.

The resolution rejects Israel’s right to exist, misrepresents both the origins and aims of the bullies, defamers and slanderers of the “BDS” movement and then, with particular venom and intellectual dishonesty, mischaracterises and maligns the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of Antisemitism.

Given that the Union includes Jewish tertiary workers, it is outrageous that a useful tool for understanding antisemitism was treated as anathema, while there was no offer of protection from the very real intimidation on campus of Jews from a variety of ideological sources.

Criticising the action of the NTEU (but not even the most ludicrous parts of the motion), even left-wing ideologue Guy Rundle commented “I suspect some in the union would like to read [it] out from a balcony over loudspeakers.”

Rundle sensibly argued, “the university is a collection of scholars, dedicated to teaching and thought unbounded” and thus the NTEU should not take positions on any political controversies.

The resolution’s action plan recommends ties with a BDS-supporting entity but not with any Israelis, presents pro-Israel Australians as uniquely problematic and pro-PLO groups as almost holy, and donates funds to a far-left pro-BDS talkfest.

The Canterbury Bankstown councillors should be treated as pariahs until they come to their senses. The NTEU has suffered a self-inflicted wound, greatly harming its ability to do its basic job of advocacy for its members, as Rundle noted. 

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