Making mates with radicals bad look for Greens

This article was published in The Daily Telegraph (May 2, 2019)

 

You can tell a lot about people from the company they keep.  

That is certainly the case with the Australian Greens who have spent this term of Parliament in the company of some real extremists – both physically and in cyberspace.

On paper, the Australian Greens express a policy towards the situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories that is certainly leftist, but relatively benign. They support Palestinian statehood alongside an Israeli – albeit not a Jewish – state. They call for a withdrawal of Israeli security forces from the West Bank and Gaza, without a commensurate call for an end to Palestinian terrorism; and they seek to promote dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. However, in numerous examples, their actions betray even these words.

Senator Mehreen Faruqi, Greens Senator for NSW, was appointed to the Senate from the NSW Parliament last August following the retirement of former Communist Youth Lee Rhiannon.

Senator Faruqi – like her predecessor – has a soft spot for the Palestinian people and their quest for a state. This is, of course, no crime. However, it leads Senator Faruqi to share the pulpit with individuals who distribute nothing less than antisemitic hate.

In March, Senator Faruqi addressed a rally organised in solidarity with a Gazan “resistance” campaign run by Hamas, a terrorist group that appears on Australia’s banned list.

During the ‘March of Return’, as the campaign is known, Hamas militia leave their uniforms at home – according to their own leader Yahya Sinwar – and storm the border with Israel carrying knives, other weapons and burning tyres to create havoc. Their objective, according to Hamas’ own social media account, is to break through the border, run to the nearest Israeli village and terrorise civilians. They also launch incendiary devices on kites and balloons to attempt to burn Israeli towns, fields and forests. The intent and the execution is violent and, sadly, numerous people have died in the campaign as a result.

This information is readily available to anyone following the news. Yet Senator Faruqi nonetheless chose to show her solidarity with these people by speaking at the rally.

Senator Faruqi is also no stranger at these rallies. Last year, she addressed a Sydney harbourside demonstration looking out over a crowd waving the flags of Hezbollah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine – terrorist organisations that have perpetrated suicide bombings, plane hijackings and community centre bombings. No doubt, she also would have seen the posters that compared Jewish people to pigs and monkeys.

While she does not appear to be a member herself, Senator Faruqi’s Greens NSW branch has set up an arm called Greens NSW for Palestine, which calls for donations to be made to a Gaza charity that has been accused of funnelling money to terrorist groups.

Greens NSW for Palestine are strong supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, despite that campaign being officially rejected by the Australian Greens because of its association with individuals pushing an antisemitic agenda.

However, the group is unlikely to be asked to cease and desist its support for BDS by party leadership. In fact, in 2017, Greens leader Senator Richard Di Natale called for Australia to halt all military trade with Israel: an ally and a fellow liberal democracy. 

“I don’t think anybody can justify Australia engaging in military trade and military exports with the state of Israel. That has to stop,” Senator Di Natale is recorded as saying.

This is an extraordinary call to make. Israel is located in one of the world’s least stable regions and shares a border with Syria, which has been embroiled in civil war since 2011. The insecurity in Syria has enabled Israel’s most significant adversary, Iran and its terrorist proxies, to position themselves at the Syria-Israel border. Despite that, the Greens believe Australia must never sell anything to Israel that will help it defend itself.

Moreover, in 2017, when Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visited Australia, the Greens put out an official party statement saying “The Australian Government should stand condemned for its warm welcome to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”

And in 2016, Di Natale distastefully hijacked a Parliamentary condolence motion to condemn Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Unfortunately, it is also clear that the Greens are not attempting to weed extreme anti-Israeli views out of their party.

The is clear from their selection of Julian Burnside as their high profile Kooyong candidate. Burnside has not been shy of being in the company of the leaders of the Australian BDS movement.

The company they keep says a lot about the true colours of the Australian Greens.

Naomi Levin is a policy analyst at the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council.