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There’s no place for BDS within Australia

Nov 21, 2014 | Glen Falkenstein

There's no place for BDS within Australia
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On ABC’s ‘The Drum’ (Nov 21 2014 ) – http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-21/falkenstein-theres-no-place-for-bds-within-australia/5909160

 

Sustainable peace between Israelis and Palestinians will only be achieved through ongoing talks and economic cooperation, which is why we must reject the BDS movement, writes Glen Falkenstein.

 

Tensions are rising in Israel and the Palestinian territories following recurring terror attacks and incitements to violence. Australia can play a constructive role by condemning both extremism and destructive elements like the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which has no role at all.

In Jerusalem on Tuesday, four Rabbis and one Police Officer were killed and several others injured when two men wielding axes, knives and a pistol attacked congregants in a local synagogue. On Sunday, riots erupted in East Jerusalem with firebombs hurled at security forces after a Palestinian bus driver was found hanging inside a bus, with suicide being the most likely cause of death according to police.

Early last Wednesday, a mosque near Ramallah in the West Bank was set on fire and a synagogue located within Shfaram, an Arab community in northern Israel, was firebombed. Leaders within both the Israeli government and Palestinian Authority have condemned these terror attacks.

This followed two separate attacks where cars were driven into crowds of pedestrians in Jerusalem. These car attacks have been lauded by Hamas, whose military wing is a designated terrorist organisation in Australia, with militants stating, “We praise this heroic operation. We call for more such… operations.” A Fatah official sent blessings of “praise and esteem” to the murderers, stating that “Jerusalem needs blood to purify itself of Jews.”

This is not an exhaustive list, and given the events of the past weeks, these sorts of attacks are likely to continue. Incitements to violence from Hamas and other extremists will only fuel tensions.

Coupled with the BDS campaign, which seeks to alienate and distance peace-seeking moderates within the Palestinian Authority and Israeli government, this incitement will lead to increased divisions between two parties that require ongoing talks and long-term economic co-operation for a sustainable peace.

Other campaigns like the anti-normalisation campaign discourages Palestinians from visiting or even talking to Israelis. In May of this year, the Palestinian co-ordinator of a joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial day service for victims of conflict was targeted by the campaign for the apparent “normalisation” of relations with Israel.

The (BDS) campaign, supported by Hamas, calls for the untenable division of the Israeli and Palestinian economies, both of which currently have a significant degree of interaction and will likely continue to do so following the creation of a Palestinian state. Moreover, BDS has been responsible for widespread extremism and virulent anti-semitism.

Last month in South Africa, students supportive of the BDS movement placed the severed head of a pig in the kosher meat section of a Cape Town Woolworths. Others in the BDS movement said it was done with “the good intention of helping the people of Palestine”, the same movement that makes an intellectually baseless comparison to apartheid which has been labelled “a malicious lie that does huge damage to the peace process.”

Pro-boycott protesters in Sydney earlier this year, objecting to a court order banning them from protesting outside the Israeli Film Festival, attributed the ban to a Jewish conspiracy. Boycotting a film festival will not advance peace, it will only inhibit understanding of different cultures, undermine economic co-operation and promote an extremist, marginal view.

Johnny Rotten, of Sex Pistols’ fame, said as much when asked whether he would play in Israel: “I play to people. Jews are people too … If you alienate the public in that way then anything you do in music is corrupt and utterly politically just confused.”

Unfortunately, Australia recently saw a member of the Federal Government endorse BDS. Western Australian MP Melissa Parke broke party ranks, becoming the only member of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party to do so, tabling a petition urging Australia to join BDS.

WA Labor Senator Glenn Sterle had this to say in response:

The member supports boycotting Israeli and Jewish businesses and in her speech praises the BDS movement headed by Mr Barghouti, who has said on a number of occasions that he wants an end to the Jewish state. His BDS movement is not an opposition to settlements, it is an opposition to Israel’s existence.

… It is quite disgraceful that the member for Fremantle would support a movement that would isolate a liberal democracy with the intention of its ultimate dismantlement.

BDS not only seeks to end discussion and interaction with Israeli culture, but goes further in denying the legitimacy of Israel’s right to exist, as articulated by Philip Mendes writing for the ABC:

The fact remains that the core agenda of the BDS movement is anti-semitic. The movement does not seek Israeli/Palestinian peace and reconciliation and/or the enhancement of Palestinian national and human rights by means of a two-state solution. Rather, it seeks to eliminate the existing Jewish State of Israel, and replace it with a new national state dominated by an Arab majority.

Bill Shorten, federal Labor leader, stated:

The Labor Party opposes the BDS campaign – it has no place in our society. I stand for engagement with Israel at every level. Peace in the Middle East will only be achieved by the parties negotiating a mutually equitable outcome.

Engagement with Israel at every level and arriving at a permanent end to the violence we have seen over the past weeks will require both ongoing diplomatic co-operation with Israel and the facilitation of discussions with the Palestinian Authority to achieve a sustainable outcome.

The BDS campaign has no hope or interest in achieving any of these goals or in building an economic future for the region. Australia has a role to play here. Anyone who signs up to BDS doesn’t, and should know better.

Glen Falkenstein is a policy analyst at the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council. View his full profile here.

 

 

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