Media Week – BDS Q&A
Jun 20, 2011 | Jamie Hyams
BDS Q & A
The issue of Marrickville Council’s support for the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaign against Israel was raised on the ABC TV discussion program “Q & A” (6/6). Greens Senator-elect Lee Rhiannon reaffirmed her support for the campaign, accusing Israel of apartheid. Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon said calling Israel apartheid is “an extreme link that doesn’t really serve the arguments well.” Comedian Sandy Gutman, better known as Austen Tayshus, said, “It’s just antisemitic. That’s all it is.” Asked if he supported the boycott, Fairfax journalist Paul McGeough certainly seemed to do so, saying, “Well, I think it’s a very clear way to get the debate about the Middle East going in western communities. It’s fantastic in Washington at the moment where you get BDS campaigns outside Joe the Trader and various other shops, in particular about a brand of hummus that comes from Israel… Because it’s part of a campaign against Israel to make Israel respond on the two state solution.” Despite his being a foreign correspondent, it seems to have escaped McGeough’s notice that Israel has been responding on the two-state solution since 1993. Shadow Education Minister Christopher Pyne called the campaign “wicked” noting, “Arab Israelis have got more freedom in Israel than any other Arab country in the Middle East. I mean I’d rather be an Arab Israeli than an Arab in any other country, considering the freedoms that Arab Israeli’s have, which are exactly the same as every Jewish citizen in the state of Israel…So calling it an apartheid state is actually designed to delegitimise the state of Israel, which I think is as bad as denying its existence. I think it’s a wicked thing to do.”
Robert Newton, the Vice President of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, had a piece in the prime position of the Canberra Times opinion page (9/6) that was resplendent with vitriol, false aspersions and some good old Jewish conspiracy theories. For example, he claimed that pro-Israel parliamentary motions “represent the manipulative influence of agents of a foreign country over Australia’s democratic practices.” His demands included that Australia’s politicians call on Israel to “resume negotiating with the Palestinians, and that it should negotiate in good faith and not deliberately string out the process with no intention whatsoever of coming to a settlement.” This is ridiculous given the Palestinians refuse to even talk to Israel and that each Israeli offer of a two-state solution has been rebuffed.
An Australian editorial criticised Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s recent support for the Marrickville boycott campaign, saying he had “lent unwarranted credibility to an absurd, unjust policy.” It pointed out that “until the Palestinians, including the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hamas that controls Gaza, recognise Israel’s right to exist and stop seeking its destruction, it is unreasonable to expect concessions.” It recounted the sad history of Palestinian rejection of Israeli peace offers, concluding that Lee Rhiannon had “made a fool of herself” with her support for a boycott and claims of apartheid and that Tutu “should be wise to such nonsense.”