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AWU National Secretary slams BDS

October 10, 2010 – 3:00 pm91 Comments

A vintage Histadrut poster

The following is an abridged version of the speech by Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) National Secretary, Paul Howes, given to the Zionist Federation of Australia on Sunday 10 October.

At a time of a new threat to Israel, a spreading international de-legitimisation campaign largely under the banner of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, I am proud to be a firm supporter of the State of Israel. This support for the State of Israel – and the two state solution – is part of a long tradition in our union.

I am proud of the fact that our union believes in, and supports, democratic societies, democratic institutions. I am proud to say our union has a long history of supporting the building of democratic civil society groups – like unions.

Well, how am I to apply AWU tradition in the context of the Middle East? I think I am upholding that union tradition when I work to support the development of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions as an independent, democratic, civic society institution.

I think I am upholding that union tradition as I stand with the union movements of both Israel and Palestine, as they fight for workers rights on both sides of the Green Line.I think I am upholding that union tradition when I support the trust-building co-operative projects that the Israeli trade union movement – led by the Histadrut – and the Palestinian trade union movement – led by the PGFTU – are promoting.

If you truly believe that a-worker-is-a-worker-is-a-worker then the function of any trade union is to ensure fair pay for a fair day’s work and a safe and healthy workplace. This applies to an Israeli worker , this applies to a Palestinian worker. I can’t see how you can discriminate between an Israeli worker and a Palestinian worker. (Let alone a foreign worker from Asia or Africa working in Israel).

Our task now is to support and ensure that trade unions – Israeli or Palestinian – have the capacity to address these issues; and to do so co-operatively. It is because of these principles that I joined with fellow union leaders in the UK and the USA to establish Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine (TULIP).

That leads me to the new threat to Israel – Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).

It is an attempt to demonise Israel; to undermine its legitimacy by suggesting its people, the working families, the companies seeking to export, academics wanting to take part in intellectual pursuits with colleagues everywhere…none of them should be treated fairly, decently and equally in the global marketplace.

On that basis I can’t see how any unionist can back the international BDS movement. Despite the headlines most of the trade union movement in Australia, and across the globe, has not backed BDS. The bulk of the international trade union movement, and in particular unions in countries like the USA, Germany and Austria, are rock-solid in their support for Israel.

A few months ago, in Vancouver, the World Congress of the global union movement, the International Trade Union Confederation – the ITUC – delivered a stinging rebuff to advocates of the campaign to boycott Israel. In an even-handed response – this was supported by both the Palestinian and Israeli trade unions – the World Congress praised the landmark agreement between the Histadrut and the PGFTU on the rights of Palestinian workers.

Most importantly – in a stunning blow to BDS activists in some unions – the Israeli national trade union centre, the Histadrut, was honoured by the global trade union movement. Its leader, Ofer Eini, was elevated to the ITUC’s 25 member Executive Board, as well as its General Council.  Mr. Eini was also elected as one of the global union groups Vice Presidents.

None of this means there are not real threats; that the social movement traditions of the union movement will not be turned against Israel using the language of the international BDS movement. I know later this month there will be a conference here in Melbourne to build the BDS movement in Australia – and especially to create strategies to get Australian unions backing BDS. There is not one person of significance in the Australian union movement speaking here.

The BDS movement likes to compare themselves to the boycott campaign against apartheid South Africa. The South African boycott apartheid movement was home grown, it originated in South Africa and was run and controlled by Nelson Mandela and his ANC and the peak South African trade union organization COSATU. Australian unions played a major role in backing the South African boycott.

The BDS movement, as it relates to the Palestinian struggle, is not really a home-grown initiative. Today’s international anti-Israel boycott movement is largely an initiative imposed on the Palestinian body politic by outside agitators who run so-called solidarity groups.

These solidarity groups have little or no institutional connections or support from within the Territories – especially not the West Bank. The person credited for founding this international BDS Movement, Omar Barghouti,  was born in Qatar, grew up in Egypt and moved only relatively recently to Ramallah. Omar Barghouti is actually now a post-graduate student at Tel Aviv University. When Israeli students at the university raised a petition to protest his presence on campus, and demand he  be expelled,  the university authorities rejected the petition and announced they would not expel him. They were not going to boycott Mr. Barghouti because of his ideas – even though Omar Barghouti himself promotes and supports an academic boycott of Israeli universities. When Omar Barghouti was asked about this irony he told the media “my studies at Tel Aviv University are a personal matter and I have no interest in commenting.”

My Palestinian acquaintances have pointed out to me a number of times that, unfortunately, the Palestinian Diaspora are by far bigger agitators for the BDS cause than the people who actually live in the Territories. The Palestinian Diaspora is less willing to compromise, more willing to keep the fight going, because they don’t have to actually live the oppressive life suffered by those in the Territories.

It is interesting to note that that all three featured Palestinian speakers at the upcoming Melbourne International BDS conference whose names I have seen – Rafeef Ziadah; Samah Sabawi and Yousef Alreemawi – all live in the Palestinian Diaspora. It is easy to promote the international anti-Israel BDS cause if you don’t have to live through the practicalities of the day-to-day lives of the workers in the Territories. It is easy to oppose the compromises that both sides will have to make to achieve security, justice and peace.

The Palestinians who actually live in the Territories are only just now – and ever so slowly – backing a limited boycott against the West Bank settlements. If you read closely, between the lines, you will also see that the PA, and its instrumentalities, place many, many qualifications, and adjectives, in front of their boycott statements because they are aware of the pain it will cause their own people.

The Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions – who are also late, and in my view reluctant, boycott backers – have been at pains to limit their calls to a boycott only of goods produced by companies which operate in the West Bank. The PGFTU have also said they only want the BDS implemented by the Palestinian Authority if alternative jobs can be found for the thousands of Palestinians who daily work in the Israeli West Bank settlements.

The international BDS solidarity groups, and theirspokespersons across the globe may from time-to-time mouth words about their support for a two-state solution. But they are in reality one-staters. Defacto they support Hamas.

The international BDS movement have adopted a strategy which says if you can’t get commitment to a complete anti-Israel BDS in a particular international community, oh well they’re happy with the wedge potential of just  targeting the West Bank settlements.

Omar Barghouti – the international BDS movement founder – has been quite explicit in stating that his real aim is not a two State solution but the end of Israel itself. In Barghouti’s own words he supports: “ a Palestine next to a Palestine, rather than a Palestine next  to an Israel.”

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  • Malki Rose says:

    Abridged though it may be, Mr Howes has given us an inspiring reminder, akin to that of Chaim Herzog’s UN address of 1975, of the real motivation behind the purpose of Mr Barghouti’s BDS Movement.

    We all have every right to criticise the actions of the Israeli Government/military if we see fit, no more or less than that of any other country. (And of course this is always far eaiser done in the Diaspora) But let that criticism be motivated by a desire for betterment and growth, and let us not forget that only a social democracy with such Pluralistic rights as Israel, could allow someone like Mr Barghouti the right to be educated at its university before biting the hand that fed him.

    Well done Mr Howes,
    and well done GA for publishing this!

  • Andrew Casey says:

    If you are interested you can read the full, un-abridged, speech on the Australian Workers’ Union website here:


  • Mandi Katz says:

    thanks Andrew – and not just for the link!

  • Ari Silbermann says:

    I enjoyed this one

  • Larry Stillman says:

    I think it is very important to invite Palestinian proponents of BDS to have a right of reply.

    This is not to say that I have strong differences with them over the general BDS campaign, but Galus needs to engage ‘them’ as equal participants in a critical conversation.

  • Syd Walker says:

    I agree with Larry Stillman on this. Moreover, the invitation to respond should be extended to an authentic Palestinian supporter of the BDS campaign.

  • frosh says:

    Hi Larry,

    Not withstanding that Galus has already published your own article in support of limited BDS, I would think that the first stage is for a Palestinian proponent of BDS to leave a comment in reply to the current article.

  • philip mendes says:

    Larry: let me get this right. A prominent Australian union leader from the centre-Left Paul Howes provides a passionate speech in favour of Israeli-Palestinian peace and reconciliation leading to an end to the West Bank occupation and a two-state solution, all the values and principles that AJDS has claimed to stand for over the 25 years of its existence.

    And instead of applauding this speech and its win-win solution, you demand that GA give equal space to an extremist pro-boycott apparatchik.

    I now understand why AJDS chose to invite one of the leading pro-boycott apparatchiks in Australia to address their BDS forum, and chose not to invite anybody from the Jewish community – even from the pro-two state Jewish Left – to provide a counter-view. It is hardly surprising that one of your sober Executive Committee members resigned over this decision.

    But do you not realize the logic of your position? Next time GA or any other online blog invites someone like myself to write an argument against the West Bank settlements, you will now be obliged to demand that they also give a right of reply to an extremist apparatchik from the settler movement.


  • Larry Stillman says:

    You have it wrong Phillip, from what I understand, AJDS could not get any one to speak against the motion. You are trying to put spin when there is none. In anycase, what you also have wrong is that there was in fact strong disagreement with Samah’s position by myself and others in AJDS.

    What is important in the point I am trying to make, in such an important issue, is that we actually engage with Palestinians in Australia instead of second-guessing and living in self-imposed bubbles. I also ask the same of Palestinians.

    The AJDS position on boycotts is far from that put by anti-Israel essentialists. The different with Harold Zweir is just that. He is still a member of AJDS.

    So drop the attempt to scandalize, or engage in structural conspiracy theories when there are none.

    As for one or two states, it is not just states, but what kind of situation emerges. The concern of many people is that the two state solution may be dead because it will be so unequal that all except a few Palestinian apparatchiks, to use your term, will be happy with it, and that will be a dreadful sitution.

    And I don’t want to be associated with Syd Walker’s views btw, which are highly intolerant and verging on anti-semitic as can be seen on his website.

  • Sol Salbe says:

    Surprisingly as it may sound, I agree with Antony Frosh. Let’s supporters of the Palestinian BDS, and those individuals who were attacked by Paul Howes in person, utilise the comments facility here first.

    It is is difficult to deal with comments of someone who regards Paul Howes as being on the Centre Left. It wasn’t the usual description given to him in a Google search. Would be to great to see if anyone can dig a similar description from anyone else in Austrlia.

    It is also difficult to reconcile Howes’ views and those of the AJDS that I joined 10 years ago with Philip’s assistance ie with the views expressed in the first 15 years. The above is one-sided criticism of the BDS movement, there are no criticism of the reasons why the Palestinians or anyone else for that matter would even consider boycotting Israel. Howes does not mention the Occupation even once. Sure he mention a two-state solution but even Netanyahu says he supports that.What kind of two-state solution he supports we don’t know.

    I actually think that some of what Howes says makes sense. I am opposed to the Palestinian BDS but there are substantial differences on all the rest. I also think that he should know the reason there are no speakers in the BDS conference from inside the OPTs is because Israel hasn’t let them out. Hardly a inning argument!

    And Philip, our plan was to have three speakers. Someone who supports the Palestinian BDS (Sabawi); someone who is very uncomfortable about the Pal BDS but wants to boycott settlements products (me) and someone who thinks that Israel’s actions on the Gaza Flotilla, Cast Lead and Lebanon War II are very wrong but nevertheless refuse to countenance any boycott action. We couldn’t find anyone for the last position. [Even you will fail the test as you told us that you don’t buy settlement products.] All this and much more is in our briefing paper which is on-line at http://ajds.org.au/node/306#attachments. With all the ensuing publicity we have only found one(!) person who could fill the last position. We will use them next time.

  • Andrew Casey says:

    Sol Salbe claims – I quote – ” Howes does not mention the Occupation even once.”

    Sol have you actually read the speech? He most certainly does talk about Occupation. And he does it with a capital O.

    And he also talks about ‘ illegal settlements’.

    For saying these words, I know, there are some grumblings from right-wingers in the Jewish community.

  • Sol Salbe says:

    I naturally accept that you are telling the truth and will go and read the full speech some time later.

    I read the item above, the one SUBMITTED here, the one I assumed Dr Mendes has read. It is clear that GA didn’t abridge it and as far as I know they have no reasons (technical or otherwise) not to include the full version. If someone does not mention something in an item submitted one may draw conclusions on their choice of what they left out.

    Perhaps the editors can enlighten us to who abridged the item (if they know).

  • Andrew Casey says:

    Sol – the very first paragraph states it is an abridged version:

    ” The following is an abridged version of the speech by Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) National Secretary, Paul Howes, given to the Zionist Federation of Australia on Sunday 10 October.”

  • Sol Salbe says:

    What’s your point, Andrew? Of course it an abridged version, that’s why I want to know who did the abridging! I am contending it wasn’t GA as they had no reason to abridge. It would be a good guess that it was either Howes or an intermediary who did the abridging. The way I read it was submitted in the abridged form. If it was Howes (or somebody doing it on his behalf) then my point of him not treating the Occupation as not very important stands.

  • Andrew Casey says:

    My understanding is that the complete (unabridged) speech was supplied to Galus.

  • Andrew Casey says:

    Sol you shouldn’t so quickly think or imply ‘conspiracy’

  • Sol Salbe says:

    Andrew, no conspiracy and no batikh*. My point was that Paul Howes views are only tangentially similar to those of the 1984-2000 AJDS. I used his lack of mentioning of the Occupation as an example. As you say he did mention it (although I and possibly Assoc Prof Mendes were not aware of it) I would have to look for a different example. If he was the one submitted the abridged version I would be saved the trouble. I would still read it but would be for fun not because I HAVE to.
    For those unfamiliar with old Hebrew slang: *roughly “no conspiracy and no nothing”

  • Galus Australis says:

    The text was abridged by GA. The original text was approximately 3000 words, and GA reduced it to just under half this. The reason for abridging was that GA believes that for our online format, shorter articles are preferable as they are more likely to be read in their entirety. The longer the article in an online format, the greater the risk of ‘scroll fatigue.’

  • Andrew Casey says:

    You are correct. All the research shows there is ‘scroll fatigue’.

    However the complete speech is up on the AWU website under the Opinions and Speeches tab.

  • Kim says:

    Paul Howes claims in his speech that the BDS movement is “not really a home-grown initiative”. Instead, “today’s international anti-Israel boycott movement is largely an initiative imposed on the Palestinian body politic by outside agitators who run so-called solidarity groups” and “these solidarity groups have little or no institutional connections or support from within the Territories – especially not the West Bank”.

    Howes also launches an attack on the Palestinian speakers at the upcoming BDS conference, implying that they too are “outside agitators”, outside of Palestinian society because they are members of the Palestinian exile community, forced to live outside of their homeland due to Israel’s ethnic cleansing of their parents and grandparents.

    Howes’ claim that Palestinians living in the Palestinian exile community should not be viewed as a legitimate Palestinian voice is not only pure bunkum but also smacks of racism.

    By arguing as he has done, Howes is basically arguing that any Palestinian born outside of or living in exile outside the Occupied Palestinian Territories is not a “real” Palestinian. We should call this twisted logic by its correct name – it is racism couched in a colonial mind set, pure and simple.

    What is astounding about Howes’ comment is not only the racism contained within it (ie. he somehow has the right to determine who is a “real” Palestinian and who is not and that he has the right to determine who and what is a legitimate Palestinian voice rather than the Palestinians themselves) but the fact that he made these comments in a speech to the Zionist Federation of Australia, an organisation which represents Zionist Jews outside of Israel.

    Would Howes ever state or imply, as he has done about Palestinians living in exile, that Jews living outside of the state of Israel (such as the members of Zionist Federation of Australia) are not a legitimate Jewish or Zionist voice? Would he argue instead that Australian Jews and Zionists living outside of Israel were “outside agitators”? If he did so, there would be immediate accusations of anti-semitism from Zionists. But of course to say this about Palestinians is acceptable to Howes.

    What is even more astonishing is that Howes’ colonial mindset allows him to think that his voice is a significantly more legitimate than the voice of Palestinians, including those who are the children and grandchildren of Palestinian refugees who were expelled from Palestine by Zionist forces and who are forced to live in exile outside their homeland by the Israeli state.

    It should be noted that in addition to the very welcomed participation of Rafeef Ziadah, Samah Sabawi and Yousef Alreemawi in the upcoming BDS conference, the conference organisers had originally hoped to invited Palestinian speakers for the Occupied Palestinian Territories to also participate in the conference.

    However, in recent months, Israel has increasingly been preventing Palestinian non-violent activists who support BDS from exiting the Occupied West Bank. In recent months, the Israeli occupation forces have specifically targeted West Bank Palestinians who support BDS and who are active in the non-violent resistance: raiding their campaign offices and/or arresting them. This has included repeated raids on the offices of the Stop the Wall campaign and the arrest of Jamal Juma, the arrest and detention of a number of the leaders of the Bil’in non-violent popular struggle – including Abdullah Abdul Rahman (who has just been sentenced to 12 months imprisonment for leading the non-violent struggle in Bil’in), Mohammed Khatib and Adeeb Abu Rahman. Also arrested and detained for several months was Mohammed Othman, another West Bank Palestinian activist who is active in the BDS campaign. (see: http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/news/palestinian-activist-jamal-juma%27-freed-20100113)

    The fact that Palestinians from the Occupied West Bank cannot travel freely and are regularly prevented by the Israeli state and the Israeli military from travelling abroad is of course completely and conveniently ignored by Howes.

    Far from the BDS campaign having “little or no institutional connections or support within the [Occupied Palestinian] Territories”, as Howes claims, the 2005 Unified Palestinian Call for BDS was signed onto by more than 100 Palestinian civil society organisation and workers unions, which represent hundreds of thousands Palestinians workers and Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories, as well as Palestinians living in Israel and in the Palestinian exile community around the world. (see: http://www.bdsmovement.net/?q=node/52 )

    Howes also attempts in his speech to raise the hoary old chestnut that he and his fellow Zionists have been spreading for some time, that the Palestinian Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) does not support BDS or only reluctantly supports BDS, that they came late to campaign and that it only supports a partial boycott. This of course is a complete fabrication, as Howes well knows.

    Not only was the PGFTU one of the original signatories of the 2005 Palestinian Unified BDS call, which supports comprehensive boycott of Israel, they also were a signatory to the 2007 Workers Call for the Boycott of Israel (see: http://www.stopthewall.org/downloads/pdf/S-F2.pdf).

    The PGFTU also issued a statement on 25 November, 2009 reaffirming its support for BDS and reconfirming it supported a comprehensive boycott of Israel. The PGFTU was forced to issue this statement due to a concerted public campaign by Zionists and their supporters, such as Howes, claiming the PGFTU did not really support BDS. A copy of their November 2009 statement can be read here: http://bdsmovement.net/?q=node%2F594

    The attempt by Howes to smear one of the leaders of the BDS campaign, Omar Barghouti, is also straight out of the hasbara songbook and simply reveals the weakness of the Zionist anti-BDS position. Howes, like many Zionists, know that he cannot win the argument in support of the normalisation of Israel’s apartheid and occupation policies because the facts on the ground simply do not support their position. This is why they choose to carry out personal attacks on leading BDS figures, such as Barghouti.

    Of course in “playing the man”, rather than “playing the ball”, what Howes and others like him deliberately ignore is the apartheid nature of the Israeli state and the racial discrimination in Israel’s education system against Palestinians.

    AS PACBI notes in a statement it issued in May 2009, when the campaign against Barghouti first began in earnest (see: http://www.pacbi.org/e…template.php?id=992 ) ” While consistently calling upon academics around the world to boycott Israel and its academic — and cultural — institutions due to their entrenched collusion in the state’s colonial and apartheid policies, PACBI has never called upon Palestinian citizens of Israel and those who are compelled to carry Israeli identification documents, like Palestinian residents of occupied Jerusalem, to refrain from studying or teaching at those Israeli institutions. That would have been an absurd position, given the complete lack of alternatives available. Successive Israeli governments, committed to suppressing Palestinian national identity in their pursuit of maintaining Israel’s character as a racist state, have made every effort possible to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian university inside Israel. The only choice left to Palestinian students and academics in Israel, then, is to go to an Israeli university or leave their homeland to pursue their studies or academic careers abroad — often not possible due to financial or other compelling reasons. In fact, the Israeli authorities have consistently worked to strip Palestinians from occupied Jerusalem of their Israeli ID cards and thus their residency rights while they study abroad, thereby prohibiting them from returning”.

    The statement goes onto note “PACBI has always made a distinction between the forms and range of academic boycott it urges the world to adopt and what Palestinians themselves can implement. The former have a moral choice to boycott Israeli universities in order to hold them accountable for their shameful, multifaceted complicity in perpetuating the occupation and racist policies of the state; the latter are often left with no choice but to use the services of the oppressive state, to which they pay taxes”

    “Finally, we stress that it is precisely PACBI’s five-year-old record of moral and political consistency and the growing influence of its principles and the campaigns it and its partners have waged around the world that have provoked Zionist anti-boycott forces to try, yet again, to rehash old attacks of inconsistency, failing to understand or intentionally and deceptively ignoring the boycott criteria set by PACBI”

  • Michael Brull says:

    “These solidarity groups have little or no institutional connections or support from within the Territories – especially not the West Bank.”

    From 5 years ago:


  • Andrew Casey says:

    People interested in some of the work of Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine (TULIP) should visit their website here:

    You can subscribe to a TULIP newsletter here:

  • frosh says:

    Kim, you are another one of these people who uses words like “racism” etc in way that strips them of all meaning and power.

    There is nothing racist about what Paul Howes has said. Here merely pointed out that Palestinians living comfortably in the diaspora have the luxury of rejecting compromise because it does not have an impact on their own lives. For example, they can encourage BDS action that actually can have a severe negative economic impact on Palestinians.

    There is nothing racist in this. You ought to be ashamed of yourself at making such illegitimate accusations.

    Perhaps you might declare your own interest in a boycott. I’m guessing that unlike Palestinians who live in the territories, you yourself (and Michael Brull for that matter) won’t suffer any adverse economic consequences.

    Of course, if you want to share in the burden, even from Australia, you could carry out a full and sincere personal boycott against Israel. The link below, already provided by Ari S above, demonstrates how to do that. Good luck!

  • Andrew Casey says:

    Frosh – well said.

  • frosh says:


    The criteria for your third (and ostensibly most pro-Israel) speaker was “someone who thinks that Israel’s actions on the Gaza Flotilla, Cast Lead and Lebanon War II are very wrong but nevertheless refuse to countenance any boycott action.”

    While you may have had difficulties in finding such a person, did you consider seeking out the following category of speaker?

    Someone who thinks that Israel’s actions on the Gaza Flotilla, Cast Lead and Lebanon War II were largely justifiable (notwithstanding reservations about the administration or execution of some/all of these campaigns) and thus refuse to countenance any boycott action.

    I’m guessing such a person would have been easier to find.

  • Malki Rose says:

    I continue to be almost mortified at the lack of support this public statement has received from the online bloggers who ordinarily jump at the opportunity to paint everything anti-Israel or anti-Palestinian.

    Finally someone, the AWU, Paul Howes and Andrew Casey, comes along and issues a wonderfully helpful speech and yet nobody seems to have a single positive thing to say on what’s been said.

    Where are all the usually loud voices who seem to have so much to say in support of the Israeli and Palestinian causes?

    Where are the words of encouragement for the AWU’s TULIP Program?

    Where is the praise for such pursuits of reconciliation and economic convergence for Israelis and Palestinians?

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Frosh, I don’t like rhetoric much either, especially the labelling rhetoric of the BDS movemement e.g. Zionist forces which while technically correct blames one and all for the effect of the Zionist movement.

    IMHO, you/we cannot ignore the deep anger over the occupation and why it has led to lanaguage and conclusions about Zionists and Israel that many Jews, working out of a completely different paradigm of concepts about Zionism (Z=a national liberation movement) find completely offensive.

    But you can’t completely discredit the BDS movement or support for Palestine internationally because it is not ‘authentically’ and ‘locally’ Palestinian. As has been suggested, diaspora Jews can have precisely the same criticism thrown at them, and in particular, the financial backers of the settlement movement whether in Australia, or the US can be considered as hard-line impediments to change–particularly because so many oppose ANY change in the status quo.

    But I want to take up the two-state nostrum again that Phillip Mendes has attacked people and groups on. If the conditions are such that the Palestinian movement internally (except for Abbas Fayyad and co) feels that a two-state solution is a complete joke because it will create a legalized bantustan, then there is a realy and serious problem. What is Phillip’s alternative? More war? More repression? Annexation? Holding onto the two-state club without providing any detail is just not enough at the moment, particularly when Israeli Paletininas face severe difficulties as Israeli citizens. I think Phillip is not prepared to make criticism of his ‘nostrum’.

    The recent international Crisis Group Report on security issues makes it very clear that P. people are quite worn out by the situation. It is a highly informed report and it makes a series of recommendations for both Israel and the PA if the two-state solution is still to be a goer. Both sets of recommendations demand a lot of reforms on the ground. But as long as there are no reforms on the ground, vocal people will go for the extreme, including diaspora populations, and we know that diasporas tend to be more extreme -look at the case of supporters of the IRA in the US.

    But I also believe that a fundamental constitutional reform in Israel to create a truly democratic state is needed. Because I think the notion of a ‘Jewish state’ is so contestable, I much prefer now an emphasis on a democratic constitution, dealing with the right of return etc. But I have dealt with these issues elsewhere, but I would also add that it is very unfortunate that Obama has caved into the ‘lobby’ and not set some firm expectations for a a much broader range of Israeli and Palestinian representation.

    Both sides need to move away from rhetoric and get much more into the nitty gritty of state building. The International Crisis Group report says that a key element in all this is trust–and that is of course, missing. However, there is a problem I agree with Howes about, and that is that there is an over-representation of ‘entryist’ elements into the movement who have a broader agenda than Israel/Palestine. Combining a desire for fundamental change of social structures with a desire for a revolution to be won in 5 minutes in Palestine isn’t the most useful of strategies.

    The struggle for Israel/Palestine is a long-haul issue, and unfortunately, throwing verbal mud is pretty useless practically, and tactically, alienates potential supporters.

  • Andrew Casey says:

    Larry – Howes in his speech noted that the Diaspora element on BOTH sides can actually be a problem as cheer-leaders for the ‘hardliners’.

    However he noted that this issue seems, from the evidence available to him ( from both Palestinian and Jewish contacts), to be a bigger question for the Palestinian diaspora, rather than the Jewish diaspora.

  • Sol Salbe says:


    I take it that you are serious rather than pulling my leg (a distinct possibility) but because you are a person who likes to engage the issues with his brain I’d try to deal with it as best I can.

    So let me draw you an analogy away from politics. A group of people [a country] have [rightly or wrongly that’s a separate debate] decided to convert a country from the Imperial measurement system to the metric system. They differ on whether it should be done in one big go, industry by industry or measure by measure. To resolve their differences they hold a forum where the various options are to be put to the group. Following your logic they should invite someone who should argue that the imperial system is superior and they should not change. But they already decided to convert. The question is not “shall we?” but “how?”

    In our case, a group of people [active AJDS members] who wanted to take action in response to what we [rightly or wrongly that’s a separate debate]consider wrongful actions and polices by Israel. It is a (tactical) consideration. If we were to invite the kind of person you suggest we would be debating Israel’s actions not the wisdom or otherwise of BDS. The question again is not “shall we?” but “how?”

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Andrew, we gotta engage with Palestinians, there are any number of Palestine Palestinians offering a wide range of opinions on political solutions. I hope, if I can get some help (please!!) to conduct some real-time video forums with them in the future. This is critical to get away from the misinformation that is prevelant and to challenge both Jewish and Palestinian cheer squads to THINK.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Kim – a lot of your response is a fairly specialised analysis of union responses to BDS in Australia and in Israel/Palestine. I know nothing about that and will not comment. I do agree that its pretty lopsided of Howes to dismiss the activism of Palestinians outside of Palestine while talking to a Zionist group outside of Israel!

    But in calling for wholesale boycotts of Israeli products, and institutions, your position fails to distinguish between on the one hand the occupation of the West Bank which the international community – and many citizens of Israel – rightfully wants to see resolved as soon as possible in way that’s truly just for Palestinians and for Israel, and on the other, the legitimacy of the state of Israel.

    And that is why anything that even smells of BDS has the stench of anti semitism. To quote Haaretz columnist Bradley Burston in a column he wrote addressed to what he calls the Zionist left:
    “No one has a monopoly on love for Israel. Your faith in the future of a just Israel alongside an independent Palestine is certainly every bit as valid as that of pro-occupation flacks. Neither does anyone have exclusive rights to the meaning of justice. There is a name for the hard leftist who rejects the right of Jews to have a state of their own – any state in any part of the Holy Land, no matter how democratic and respectful of minority rights – but who accepts the rights of Muslims to have formally Islamic nations: Anti-Semite. ”

    Singling Israel out as the one nation-state in he world of nations that deserves the opprobrium and punishment of the world reflects a highly selective view of the creation of the state and the resulting and tragic circumstances of Palestinians. It also reflects a willingness to look past the fact that many countries including Australia – were created under similar colonialist frameworks.

    Before you dismiss me of trotting out the Zionist hasbara line, keep let me be clear – I have elsewhere on this site agreed that occupation of the West Bank causes deep injustice and a just resolution has to be a priority for Israel and all its supporters – not just because of the pragmatism of it but because it is right and just. However, the obstacles to a just resolution are many and complex. The occupations didnot come about of Israel’s making and its resolution does not lie only with Israel.

    Israel has a long way to go before it can be decribed as a fully multticultral democracy. Nevertheless there is a sound basis for Israel as an ethnonationalist state with a dominant ethnicity according full equality to its minorities. There are many states that can be characterised in that way. The jurisprudential basis for Israel is not inherently racist although certain of its policies clealry are. Perhaps what is most deeply anomalous is the fact that that Israel aspires to be a multicultural democracy, in a region where most countries accord rights only to one religion and persecute minorities.

    The full tragedy of this is complex and disheartening. But wanting the solution to be simple and all the fault of one party doesn’t make that true.

    Many in the Zionist camp tend to sing from what you call the hasbara song book. Sadly its not the only predictable and one tuned song book that gets wheeled out and which lacks nuance and real honesty. Much of the language of your post reveals a similarly one eyed mindset.

  • philip mendes says:

    It is odd that Sol Salbe, who was involved in principled revolutionary politics for more than two decades, indulges in technical squibbling. But this arguably anti-democratic practice of attacking people on the basis of minor micro details or actions rather than actual ideological or political differences of substance seems to now be dominant within the ironically titled Australian Jewish Democratic Society. Regardless of Salbe’s red herrings, yes I did read the full version of Paul Howes’ speech. I have also read his numerous other contributions to the activities of TULIP which I regard (along with the UK group Engage) as two of the most effective Left opponents of those who wish to demonise and destroy Israel.

    Regarding AJDS pre-September 2000, I suggest Salbe has a re-read of the famous 1989 Statement of Concern which was signed by over 550 Australian Jews in a period when there was no email, and no blogs. So much of IAJV’s 132 signatories. The AJDS Statement called for a “peace of mutual recognition, based on territorial compromise and self-determination”. How different from the BDS hate speech which is aimed at inspiring violence and war against Israelis.

    The commentator who calls herself Kim is I presume Kim Bullimore, long-time BDS apparatchik, and long-time activist in the Trotskyist Democratic Socialist Party, previously known as the Socialist Workers Party, and also called the Swampies for their habit of swamping/entering other larger Left organizations such as the now defunct NDP with the aim of taking them over. The DSP was a leader of the “abolish Israel” crowd even during the Oslo Peace Accord years, and was earlier known for its attacks in the 1970s on any other radical Left groups who supported Israel’s right to exist.

    The history of international campaigns for boycotting Israel is complex, and I suggest people read the only serious Australian study of this debate :
    A Case Study of Ethnic Stereotyping: The Campaign for an Academic Boycott of Israel by Philip Mendes, Australian Journal of Jewish Studies, Volume 20, 2006, pp.141-168.

    The political views of the boycott proponents can best be judged by the fact that this campaign commenced in April 2002 immediately following the mass slaughter of Israeli civilians by Hamas terrorists in March 2002. The retaliatory Israeli re-invasion of Palestinian West Bank cities that followed prompted two UK academics Steven and Hilary Rose, both prominent figures in the radical science movement, to propose a boycott of all Israeli academics and academic institutions.

    The Australian boycott petition of May 2002 was initiated by two academics, John Docker of the Australian National University and Ghassan Hage of Sydney University. Docker’s hatred of Israel dates back to his activism in the Jews against Zionism and Anti-Semitism group of the 1970s.

    In April 2004, 60 Palestinian academic and other non-government organizations publicly called for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel. The statement claimed that “The Israeli academy has contributed, either directly or indirectly, to maintaining, defending or otherwise justifying the military occupation and colonization of the West Bank and Gaza, the entrenched system of racial discrimination and segregation against the Palestinian citizens of Israel, which resembles the defunct apartheid system in South Africa, and the denial of the fundamental rights of Palestinian refugees in contravention of international law” (Taraki 2004).

    There are people with more knowledge than myself who could judge how representative the Palestinian boycott proponents are of Palestinian society. Some are presumably supporters of Hamas and advocate the genocidal destruction of all Israelis. Others may hold more moderate views.

    But it is worth remembering that the PLO also argued until at least 1988 (some say 1993) that Israel should be destroyed. But many on the Left rejected this argument on the principled grounds that it was a nationalist not internationalist position.

    Not much has changed. The Left is still divided. Some want peace and two states. Some want war and violence and no Israel. We all have to decide where we stand.


  • frosh says:


    Regarding the metric system – it’s miles better!

    But seriously, well explained.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    I am completely at a loss why Philip continues to bash AJDS(‘hate speech’ re BDS) when we have distanced ourselves from the BDS movement, and b) with some presicence I have expressed concern about entryism (that he calls swampies/swampism), which I suppose he associates with Kim Bullimore who I don’t know at all.

    Perhaps Philip can’t accept that there are people in AJDS who come at the problem from a completely different angle to his own politics and whose experience of the issue has been formed in very different circumstances to his own and this give them a moral, rather than a ‘left’ position– and again, ‘left’ can mean almost anything.

    Some of us are quite capable of thinking independently on this issue and wish to reflect a different path, but one that doesn’t fall into the trap of ‘equivalence’ always feeling that there needs to be ‘balance’, when power of violence is so much in the hands of the Israeli authorities.

    At the same time, some of us (at least me), want to stay clear of essentialist arguments in the pro-Palestinian movement that give no credence to the crisis in Jewish life in the pre and post-war period that made so many people strong Zionists, in ignorance of the effects it had on the resident population.

    This is more complex than the manichean and historical-determinist view that Phillip pushes in his analysis of how people come to adopt views on the crisis.

  • Kim says:

    You and Andrew Casey can claim all you like that there is nothing racist in Howes words, but this doesn’t change the fact that they are in fact racist.

    In Australia, colonial bureaucrats sought to decide who were and weren’t Aboriginal and who and who could not speak for them. This is exactly what Howes is also attempting to do in relation to the Palestinians by claiming that the BDS campaign is not a “homegrown”campaign and that it is instigated by “outside agitators”.

    Up until the mid 20th Century in Australia, there were hundreds of laws which defined who was and who wasn’t Aboriginal with this changing from state to state and from year to year. Rather than letting Aboriginals determine this themselves or determine who could speak for them, faceless bureacrats decided who were “real” Aboriginals and spoke for them, instead of letting them speak for themselves.

    Similarly, Howes, in trying to determine who is or isn’t a “real” Palestinian by argue that the voices of Omar Barghouti, Samah Sabawi, Rafeef Ziadah and Yousef Alreemawi are not “homegrown” Palestinian voices and there for are not “real” Palestinians because they don’t live in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and therefore are supposedly not legitimate (at least in his eyes).

    In Australia, because of the racist colonial laws of the past, who is or isn’t an Aboriginal is today determined by the individual and their community – hence who is or isn’t an Aboriginal person is determined by the following two criteria (1) they identify as Aboriginal and (2) their community recognises they as Aboriginal.

    Who is and isn’t Palestinian or Palestinian “enough” is not for Paul Howes, Andrew Casey or you to determine. It is also not up to you, Howes or Casey to determine which Palestinian voice is legitimate or not. It is for the Palestinians to determine and it is up to them to determine if the voice of these Palestinians is legitimate or not.

    And in the case of BDS, Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Palestinians living in Israel and Palestinians living in exile have determined that the voice of Palestinians like Omar Barghouti is legitimate. And the voices of Omar Barghouti, Samah Sabawi, Yousef Alreemawi and Rafeef Ziadah are legitimate because they reflect the Palestinian experience of being ethnically cleansed, being a refugee and being forced to live outside of their homeland by Zionists.

    BDS since 2005 has had broad support across all three sectors of Palestinian society – in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, inside Israel and in exile, as the signatories to the 2005 Call reveals. In the last 5 years that support has grown and has strength because BDS is working and this is what frightens Howes and Zionists the most.

    As for being ashamed, the only people who should be ashamed are Paul Howes and Andrew Casey, who know full well that what Howes is saying about the PGFTU is a complete fabrication. Last year I corresponded, by email, with both Howes and Casey on this very issue and I sent them both a copy of the 2005 Unified Palestinian Call which the PGFTU signed, the 2007 Workers call which the PGFTU signed and the November 2009 statement which the PGFTU issued reaffirming their support for BDS and the full comprehensive boycott of Israel (If Casey or Howes have deleted their copy of our correspondence, I am happy to send a copy of it again to them as I still have it). Howes, however, in his speech continues to claim that the PGFTU came late to the campaign and does not support a full comprehensive boycott.

    As for myself, I am more than happy to declare my position on BDS – I unequivocally support the Palestinian Unified Call for BDS which was issued in 2005 by more than 100 Palestinian organisation, including organisations based in the Occupied Palestinian Territories who represent tens of thousands of Palestinian workers and ordinary Palestinians. I am more than happy to say that I am proud to be part of a Palestinian campaign, initiated by Palestinians, supported by Palestinians both in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, in Israel and living in exile.

    And the reason I am happy to be part of this campaign is because in the last 5 years, I have spent extensive time in living and volunteering the Occupied Palestinian Territories (approximately two years all up, including living there for 12 months at one stage).

    I have worked with Palestinians on the ground in Palestine, including working with Palestinian unionists and a Palestinian workers organisation. So I dare say, I have had much more face to face contact with Palestinian workers than either Paul Howes or Andrew Casey and it is because of my contact with these workers and other ordinary Palestinians on the ground in Palestine that I am happy, at their request, to support THEIR campaign for the full comprehensive boycott of Israel.

  • frosh says:

    Kim, the fact that you are commenting on this website means that you are NOT adhering to the boycott. For starters, you need to be boycotting Intel, and thus you need to refrain from using the internet.

  • Kim says:

    Hi Mandy,
    Re: Bradley Burston’s comment about Left support for Islamic nations – Personally, I don’t support any type of theocratic state, whether it be Christian, Jewish or Muslim. I am a firm believer that nation states should NOT be organised on the basis of a religious majority and/or religious law, but on a democratic, secular basis in which formal equality/equal rights is granted to all of its citizens, regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

    I think Burston is attempting to muddy the waters, similar to the way Zionists who claim that Israel is being singled out and imply that Palestine solidarity activists are not active in other human rights campaigns. In my experience, nearly every Palestine/BDS solidarity activist I have ever met in Australia, in Palestine and internationally is also involved in a range of other human rights campaigns focusing on injustices both in their own country and in other countries outside of Israel.

    So to address some of the issues you raised: Is BDS anti-Semitic? Is Israel being “singled out”?

    My short answer is no to both questions. Holding a government accountable for human rights violations and violation of international law is not racist and it is not anti-Semitic

    For me far from being “singled out”, all that is being asked of Israel is that it abide by human rights law and international law, just as every other nation-state in the world is regularly asked to do. Far from being “singled out” by others, it seems to me that Israel is attempting to single itself out by demanding exemption from the very standards expected of every other nation state in the world. We expect and demand that China and other countries which carry out human rights abuses to be held accountable, so why should this not also apply to Israel?

    The BDS campaign came out of the Palestinian people’s direct experience with Israeli oppression, discrimination and occupation and is a not simply a ‘generic’ campaign for broad human rights started by non-Palestinians. Instead it is a campaign, developed by the three sectors of Palestinian society – those living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, those living in Israel, those living in exile – utilising a non-violent human rights based approach. This is why it addresses the issues affecting all three sectors of Palestinian society – the issue of occupation, the issue of discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel and the issue of Palestinian refugees. The three demands outlined by the BDS call are not a new invention, they are demands which have been supported for decades by the Palestinian people and are all backed by international and human rights law.

    Finally, I am not sure what you mean by “The occupations did not come about of Israel’s making” – Israel seized the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and the Golan in 1967 and has refused to relinquish them and has mounted a belligerent military occupation, as recognised both in international law and also as such by Israeli courts, so I am not sure who is responsible for the occupation if not Israel …

  • Mandi Katz says:

    um Kim – you have moved from selective use of facts to dishonest use of facts.
    Israel did not ‘seize ‘ the territories but occupied them in a war of defence. And from 1967 to 1977 Israel offered to relinquish control of the territories but was met by the Khartoum three ‘nos’.

    This discussion will only give me a loch in kop (Yiddish for a very big headache) so that’s it from me .

    I only commented earlier because the blatant one sidedness is just ridiculous in a discussion that purports to be based on principles.

    Anyway – I look forward to hearing all about your boycotts of China, Sudan, Syria, and the rest.

    But forgive me if I don’t congratulate you for your efforts when I see them reported as Kim is a fairly common, and gender neutral, name and I wont be sure whether or not its you!

  • Kim says:

    Seriously Frosh, if you are going to engage in this discussion, please try take the time to inform yourself about the parameters of BDS campaigning. As the campaign’s name clearly states the BDS campaign contains three components – Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, which can be used separately or in combination with each other.

    Intel is an American company which makes computer components, they do not ‘own’ the internet as you imply by you silly statement that I should “refrain from using the internet”. It is true that Intel does has a development centre in Israel and does support Israeli apartheid policies.

    Within the three BDS campaigning parameters a range of tactics can be utilised – so for example, for the last two years, the Israeli state was a cultural sponsor of the Melbourne International Film Festival. BDS activists did not call for the boycott of the festival, instead we sought to raise awareness publicly that Israel was a cultural sponsor and that their sponsorship was part of the Israeli “Brand Israel” campaign, which seeks to deflect attention from Israel’s human rights abuses and violation of international law. We did not call for a boycotting of the festival, instead we call for the Festival to reject Israeli state sponsorship and for the festival goers to call on MIFF to reject Israeli state sponsorship.

    Similarly with Intel, a legitimate BDS approach does not necessarily have to include outright boycott, instead a legitimate BDS approach can focus on Divestment and call for Intel to divest from Israel (in fact, Al Awada, the Palestinian Right of Return Coalition has mounted such a campaign against Intel). A number of tactics could be employed to support such a campaign – these can include an education and awareness campaign which involved a public letter writing campaign to newspapers explaining the role Intel is playing in supporting Israeli apartheid, including building on land confiscated from the Palestinian village of Iraq Al-Manshiya. It could also include a letter writing campaign to the company itself. Another legitimate BDS tactic could be a campaign focusing on company stockholders asking them to divest from the company if it does not divest from Israel.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    whoops- I shouldn’t be doing this at 2.00am – a loch in kop is a hole in the head, not a headache. And I need this ridiculous discussion like I need a loch in kop.

  • frosh says:

    Kim, you lack the ability to communicate in a concise fashion – this would be a skill well worth acquiring, as few people have the time or patience to read your long drawn out essays that say frequently what could have been said in a few sentences.

    Your last essay could have simply been replaced with a single sentence.

    “We BDS types only boycott that which is convenient for us.”

  • Andrew Casey says:

    On the PGFTU.

    There are a number of groups and organisations who claim the title PGFTU. Also very often when translating into English a range of ‘union’ groups are called PGFTU.

    Therefore we need to be careful in identifying which ‘PGFTU’ is signing up to any BDS statement.

    Most importantly – until very recently ( the last few months in fact) – there has been two major or key PGFTUs.

    While Arafat, the PLO and Fatah were outside the occupied territories there was an external PGFTU claiming to represent all Palestinian workers both in the Diaspora and in the occupied territories.

    Also there was a PGFTU on the ground in the territories.

    After the return the two PGFTUs continued – each claiming to be the legitimate representatives of working people.

    But the ‘external’ PGFTU was alwaus in reality no more than a shingle – even after they returned with Arafat and others.

    The ‘external’ PGFTU tended to be just about rhetoric and felt feel free to make some quite silly, extreme, blow-hard and outlandish statements. After all they were not accountable to real workers, their real interests, their real needs.

    Meanwhile the PGFTU union grouping with actual members in the occupied territories – the one lead by Shaher Saed – tried to work as a representative organisation, and probably constrained by the realities of having to fight for their members did not so easily make outlandish statements and blowhard rhetoric.

    This PGFTU tried to negotiate decent relationships with other unions across the globe, and in Israel.

    Only recently the ‘external’ PGFTU has subsumed itself/amalgamated with Shaher’s PGFTU. Shaher is now the recognised PGFTU leader.

    Yes Shaher Saed recently did sign a pro-BDS statement.

    There is considerable debate about the meaning of this recent decision, and what was the process and meaning behind Shaher’s decision making.

    Whatever the reason every public statement in Palestinian media I’ve seen since shows Shaher is desperately trying to minimise the BDS implementation, put it off, as he fights for the living standards of Palestinian workers.

    A range of union leaders who I know and respect from across the globe including Sharan Burrow – former ACTU leader now ITUC leader – speak extremely highly of Shaher.

    They compliment him on the hard work he has put into forging relationships with the Histadrut.

    Sometimes this is quite dangerous because of the volatile nature of Palestinian politics. After all from time to time both Hamas and Islamic Jihad have tried to assassinate PGFTU leaders.

    I’ve also met Shaher and I walked away from our meeting with a deep respect for the man. He was starkly honest and outlined a series of very, very serious criticisms of the Histadrut, based on his on-going negotiations.

    But he also outlined the potential for positive long-term alliances for these two national union centres.

    The two of them together could both keep each other honest and become the cutting edge for trust-building between the workers of Palestine and Israel.

    They could become role models for the way justice can be delivered to the Palestinians and security for the Israelis.

    The two together could become the gaurantors for the creation of transparent, democratic, secular societies prepared to stand together against extremists, racists and theocratic autocrats in their region.

    It ain’t gonna be easy. And yep there will be hiccups. Three steps forward and two back.

    But I believe good unionists from across the globe should both support their work together – and be able to call them when they fall short on their promises.

  • Sol Salbe says:

    @Mandi (7.22pm Wed)
    I see three themes in your contribution.
    The first is the way advocates of the Palestinian BDS conflate Israel and the OPT. Basically I agree with you. For what it is worth it is something I would be taking up in a debate that Kim Bullimore has agreed to have with me. The working title of which is “Should Australian Left critics of Israel should endorse the Palestinian BDS?” I will keep you posted when we have some concrete details.

    The second point is the issue of singling out Israel. I think the subject has been addressed elsewhere but over the last week I have seen a very good version of it from an Israeli who agrees with me ie disagrees with you on this aspect. When I lay my hands on it I will post it either or on my FB page and linked elsewhere. I would also like to add that I happen to know the vast majority of the people involved in the BDS movement in Australia on a personal level. I have made a point of introducing as many of them as possible to Hagit Back when she was here.[I see it as part of my “mission” to carry out that kind of dialogue over my dining room table. Interesting titbit: Samah Sabawi’s Gazan spicy salad is divine, but I digress.] IMO None of them are antisemitic or racist in any shape or form.

    The third point is that it is simply not accurate to state that Israel aspires to become a multicultural society. You and I may wish it, and Yehudah Shenhav has written a good book about it which may borrow [warning Hagit-level Hebrew required] but multiculturalism unfortunately is not part of the Israeli discourse.

  • Sol Salbe says:

    @Mandi 2.02am

    Nobody should be contributing to GA at that time of the morning. It probably does not make for a clear head. :-)

    With regard to the defensive war of 1967. Believe it or not, the same kind of historical clarification process that the New Historians have provided, has been taking place over 1967. The best I would say that it is not a simple as a defensive war with Israel having no choice. Again a subject for a separate discussion but it would be best not to make such emphatic statements such as yours. I say that because you are one of the people on this platform who prefers the nuanced approach. And such emphatic statements just don’t jell with a nuanced approach.

  • Sol Salbe says:

    @Kim 2.16am
    Insomnia must be prevalent on GA!

    I have kept away from Frosh’s (and Ari’s) YouTube clip and I will manage to resist getting involved in that less than mature game for a while longer. But I do want to take up the flexibility or otherwise of the BDS movement. Clearly the driving force behind the MIFF campaign were not the organisers of the BDS conference but the Australians for Palestine who represent a different segment of the pro-Palestinian movement in this country. But the local BDS forces did indeed go along with the AFP (and independent Palestinians not associated with either) in a nuanced and intelligent approach over MIFF. It is also worth mentioning that the local Palestinians and their supporters have never objected to Israeli films either. [That would be the height of stupidity as films like Ajami do more to explain the plight of Palestinians citizens of Israel than quite of Palestinian material.] But the international BDS movement has not been as nuanced. Calling for a boycott of the West-Eastern Divan/Diwan Orchestra founded by Edward Said and Daniel Barenboim strikes me as being both stupid and counterproductive. It shows a lack of flexibility.

  • Sol Salbe says:

    @Andrew Casey

    Thanks for the explanation. Very useful

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Hi Sol – you are right. Blogging generally is a probably bit sad. Blogging at 2am is downright pathetic!

    I would like to comment further but may not happen for a wee while as I’m flat out at work, and at home (talliTOT and all that …)

    Just letting you know I’m not ignoring you.

  • larry stillman says:

    A fascinating and respectful discussion. There is one point I wish to raise, which is something that often gets lost in rhetoric, but perhaps something to be learned from the sth african experience (and my increasing contact with sth africans who were part of the old system).

    What I feel is missing from the arguments used by Palestinian advocates is an empathetic approach to Israelis rather than the focus on the evils of the occupation (which I agree with), that can then merge into a one-state-democratic state argument, sometimes quite dogmatically. What happened in the anti-apartheid era (well, from what I remember in Australia) was demonization of Afrikaners in particular as big, white evil neo-nazi brutes, every single one of them–ie as enemies they were depersonalized. It is much easier to focus on a stereotype.

    I think the lesson to be learned from sth africa is that Israelis (technically the state apparatus, though some people see no difference between Jewish Israelis of any age or gender and the ‘state) is that a lot of resistance by Israelis to change could have been avoided by reaching out in much more positive ways to include more Israelis in the struggle against the oppression that affects them all (in different ways of course).

    Other than lip service paid to the usual suspects in the anti-occupation Israeli left, I don’t see much of a ‘stand by us’ or ‘walk with us’ attitude with your average person in the street nor much of a deep understanding of the religious and cultural complexities for both communities that make the establishment of a truly secular and equal environment in one or two states and enormously complex matter due to the long-standing tradition of community independence, clan and village loyalty etc. It is easy to skip over the hard details of peace-making and one that hard secularists have a lot of trouble in understanding.

    Certainly the second intifadah lost a lot of potential Israeli supporters, and a change in tactics might also not be popular with certain elements in the p. movement that just don’t want Israel at all, but I see it as a pragmatic turn that needs international support. Of course, there are those elements in the bds and pro-palestine movement who would also be quite hostile to such a fall- back position from the fundamentals about the loss of Palestine that are held onto so deeply, but as I have said, based on what happened in sth africa, I think it might save more bloodshed and wasted time in finding an equitable solution (look a the geneva accords)

    Notice too, I haven’t mentioned Zionism either, because that is perceived so differently from so many angles. But we should expect, in the interest of populations that aren’t going to go away, a campaign for trust building (which as as I have said in other posts, abbas and co have been engaged in through slick media).

    To push the point again, there is nothing in what Kim has said, other than a political analysis of oppression or bashing evil acts and the repeating of analyses of colonialism (that I agree with) which says, OK, Israelis we know all your bad points, but we respect your rights to safety and security in new partnership with us and can we move forward now.

    I hope I have found the right words here to make a complex point, but they are not slick. The issues of mutual trust and respect come up again and again in background research, but they are missing in the political arguments that I see on many websites.

  • frosh says:


    You write on GA that you are opposed to BDS.

    Perhaps you can tell us why, and also spell these reasons out clearly to your Facebook friends and sycophants, because the strong impression you leave on that medium is that you are for BDS.

    Is it a case where you feel you need to be more “nuanced” for one particular audience compared to another?

  • Sol Salbe says:

    Whatever gave you that idea? I have stated it numerous times of FB and in the Middle East News Service that I’m opposed to the Palestinian BDS. I am tempted to suggest a wager [a big one that will really hurt to lose] if you argue otherwise.

    What could be a clearer statement of opposition to BDS than arguing the negative case to the question of ““Should Australian Left critics of Israel should endorse the Palestinian BDS” at the Trades Hall?

    I am above all a reporter who strives to get the facts out. Sometimes it means defending Ariel Sharon against false accusations (by Michael Gawenda no less). Sometimes it means reporting the success of others with whom I disagree.

  • frosh says:


    I’d refrain from wagers if I were you.

    Firstly, you have already stated on this thread: “It is clear that GA didn’t abridge it [the article].”
    Yes, GA did abridge it!
    If only you didn’t use the word “clear”, it perhaps would not have looked quite so bad for you

    Secondly, I wrote that you leave a strong impression….
    Impressions are fairly unverifiable, and thus a make rather unsuitable content for wagers.

    Feel free to point me to the many links where you argue with your Facebook sycophants, explaining to them why you are against BDS.

  • Sol Salbe says:

    @frosh And give them pointers for the debate? Whose side are you on?

  • Kim says:

    Hi Mandy,
    to take up your two key points – the nature of the 1967 war and boycotts of other countries:

    I disagree with you as I think “seize” is the correct word to use when it comes to the 1967 war. I also disagree with you that the 1967 was a “war of defence”. This has been disproven by a number of scholars, including Jewish and Israeli ones.

    Probably the best dissection of the war is Finkelstein’s in Image and Reality of the Israel –Palestine conflict. Rather than summarising his arguments for you, I will just quote a couple of Israeli military/political leaders, as well the CIA on the 1967 war.

    Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s Chief of Staff at the time of the war and the Meir Amit, the chief of Mossad later stated, respectively, that they “did not believe that Nasser wanted war” and that “Egypt is not ready for a war; and Nasser did not want one”. Menachem Begin later said of the 1967 war – “we had a choice” and “The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches” but “do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him”.

    General Mattiyahu Peled, one of the architects of the war said in 1972, that the claim that Israel was under menace of destruction was a “bluff”.

    One the eve of the June war, US intelligence forces were unanimous in their assessment that Israel faced no threat and that they would defeat Egypt in any war. The CIA also assessed that Israel’s objectives, first and foremost, was “destruction of the centre of the radical Arab Socialist movement i.e. Nasser’s regime”, rather than a “war of defense” because they assessed that Israel was not under mortal threat as Abba Eban argued.

    The June War allowed Israel to expand its territory by seizing the Golan, West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Israel’s leadership did not regard the 1949 armistice agreement borders as permanent. In fact, Ben Gurion had argued against and won the argument in 1948 thatthere shouldn’t be any reference to Israel’s borders in the Declaration of Israeli Independence – because he had not given up the idea of expanding Israel’s borders outside the 1949 armistice lines.

    In relation to boycotts of other countries – there has in fact been a number of other countries target for boycott. There is currently a boycott campaign against Sudan (which was launched, by the way, by a range of Jewish/Zionist organisations and supported by a number of US congressmen). In 2005, British activists launched a boycott Burma campaign (focused on a tourism boycott), which was supported by Tony Blair and around 70 celebrities, amongst others and there are also other campaigns against China, South Africa and other countries.

    Interestingly, however, these boycott campaigns are not “organic” campaigns – i.e. developed by the oppressed people themselves, they are instead developed by “outside agitators” to use Howes words, such as Zionists organisations, politicians and yes, human rights activists.

    What is different about the Palestinian BDS campaign, however, is an organic campaign as it has been developed by Palestinians and supported by Palestinians in the OPT, Israel and living in exile.

    In relation to the tactic of boycott, it interesting that Zionists and Israel decry a boycott being imposed on Israel, but they are quite happy to demand a boycott of Iran, a boycott of Sudan, a boycott of Turkey, while also imposing a blockade (another form of boycott) on the Gaza Strip, but don’t think this smacks of a double standard.

    Finally, no need to congratulate me on my efforts :) I’ve been a political activist active in a range of social justice and anti-racism struggles for almost a decade and a half now – I am activist not because I desire any congratulations or commendations, but because I believe that injustice has to be challenged and that we shouldn’t just sit around talking about injustice but we should be actively taking action in trying to end it and to create a better world.

  • Kim says:

    Frosh, I think I will take Sol’s advice and will refrain further from engaging with you in the “less mature game” that you think passes for intelligent debate and dialogue. If you are too lazy to read and engage in naunced political debate, then that says more about your political shallowness and reliance on one-up manship, than it does about my writing ability or the fact that I do people the political courtesy of taking their opinon and arguments seriously, even if I may disagree with them.

  • frosh says:


    That you have a lot of time on your hands to cut & paste selectively from Wikipedia is a privilege, but not necessarily a virtue.

  • Kim says:

    In response to Andrew Casey’s explanation about the PGFTU – this is basically the same argument that Paul Howes made to me in email correspondence prior to the 25 November 2009 statement issued by the PGFTU in which Shaher Sa’ed categorically denied that he did not support BDS and where he called for a comprehensive boycott of Israel.

    The argument made by Howes then was a load of bunkum, just as the argument being made by Andrew Casey now is a load of bunkum, with the only people believing this argument is Howes, Casey and others who hold their position.

    The 2005 Unified Call, the 2007 Workers Call and the 2009 November statement were all signed by the PGFTU located in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

    As even Andrew Casey is forced to concede, the 2009 November PGFTU statement was signed by Shaher Saed. The only “considerable debate” that there has been around this statement has been by Zionists and their supporters who were forced to retreated from their fabrications about the PGFTU and have ever since been trying to find ways to white ant the statement.

    And even if the PGFTU were not signatories to the three key BDS documents I have outline, it should be pointed out that they are not the only union in Palestine. There are several other unions which represent tens of thousands of Palestinian workers, ALL of which have signed onto BDS.

    What is interesting about TULIP’s website is that when it was first set up, it included on it links to supporter groups. They have since removed this feature because it clearly showed that the only groups supporting TULIP were Zionist ones and that TULIPS campaign is not a “home-grown initiative” and has no “institutional connections or support from with the Territories – especially not in the West Bank”. Instead TULIP’s campaign is “largely an initiative imposed on the Palestinian body politic by outside agitators who run so-called solidarity groups”.

    Finally, I am also wondering if Andrew Casey can answer another question for me? Has either the AWU national executive and/or the AWU rank and file or any other democratically elected body of the AWU (state or national) actually every democratically voted on campaigning against BDS or is this just a position imposed undemocratically on the AWU by its national secretary and his national communications officer?

  • frosh says:


    Is it perhaps improper to refer to correspondence you have had with a public figure without disclosing your own full name?

  • larry stillman says:

    For those interested in productive peace making when 2 sides realised that they could get no further through throwing contrasting narratives and bombs at each other, see some stuff about N Ireland. http://www.community-relations.org.uk/about-us/press-releases/

    I realize the hard thing for each side to accept is 1) for Zionists, they have no absolute historic claim or right and need to give up a lot in the interests of peace 2) for P., that there is a fact of migration by outsiders into Palestine for reasons that may seem weird and bizarre and unfair, other people are now resident as well.

    For each side, trust building is critical.

    For those interested in sectarian politics, this strategy will mean little and will probably be opposed, but for many people, it may appear to be the only realistic option.

    And Frosh, I am pretty sure Sol has written about his opposition in the ajds newsletter, and I don,t think sycophants is a polite term. People are far more intelligent than that.

  • larry stillman says:

    I think we can see that Kim (who?) and others are engaged in squabbling and self-justification that has little to do with conflict resolution.

    why not look how some communities have ‘moved forward’. It takes huge concessions from either community and trust building and leadership is critical. See info about N. Ireland. Are ideologists on either side (and particularly outsiders on either side), prepared to stop agitating for the impossible?


  • Michael says:

    Frosh: You seemed to imply that I support BDS. I don’t. In fact, I’ve repeatedly argued against it publicly. For example, in Overland, where instead I urged a targeted boycott at West Bank settlements (like AJDS has adopted), and argued for a two state agreement, rather than one state. The response I received was generally positive, except for the Melbourne academics who wrote to Overland complaining in particular that my essay was printed, and Dr Mendes, who then wrote a tendentious report for the ADC again singling me out for criticism. He also misrepresented my position in the AJN, which printed corrections the next week.

  • Levi says:

    Mr Kim are you having so little knowledge of Palestine or deliberately propagandising here when you say:

    ” And even if the PGFTU were not signatories to the three key BDS documents I have outline, it should be pointed out that they are not the only union in Palestine. There are several other unions which represent tens of thousands of Palestinian workers, ALL of which have signed onto BDS. ”

    Haha that’s a laugh about tens of thousands of union members.

    The economy till recent times is shit. ( Yes thanks to the occupation in big, big part).

    So not many workers – and definitely not many unionists.Few thousand. Not tens of thousands as you write. Even those in union often out of work and can’t pay union dues.

    The truth is that apart from the PGFTU the only other ‘real’ union grouping is at DWRC/Independent Federation Unions, the journalist union and the teacher union. No other real unions with real members.

    Other ‘union’ who sign your BDS documents are just union in name. All bullshit. No members at all. Used by political groups to have foot in the donor door or other corrupt political reason.

    If you believe they are real union then it shows how stupid you are Mr Kim.

  • Levi says:

    Sorry for last line Mr Kim. Not nice to say you stupid. You may be very ignorant of truth maybe?

  • philip mendes says:

    Michael: The reason a formal complaint was made about your article to Overland was that it was overtly defamatory. You are entitled to critique people’s arguments, but not to deliberately and maliciously misrepresent their views. Overland should have known that, and should not have published an article which could have exposed both their journal and yourself to a highly expensive legal action.


  • larry stillman says:

    Phillip, I have re-read that overland article for the nth time.


    It certainly expresses strong political opinions of all different sorts, and is highly critical of your political positions,but ‘overtly defamatory’. Far from it.

    Are these the words you objected to? These are certainly not my style and I think the first sentence is an exaggeration, but but Brull was making a political opinion, and you indulge in similar forms of invective. And as Brull claims in the second parag, you misrepresented his views. In any case, Overland responded you your published complaint, also signed by others http://web.overland.org.au/2010/05/03/overland-and-bias-a-response-to-some-critics/, where it made the point that you and others involved had the resources and publicity far in excess of someone like Brull to make your views known, including being published in Overland.

    I think the problem is that you don’t like your views and formulations about ‘the left’ challenged. And before you start me with, as you know, I have got stuck into Docker and Curthoys, but as well, some of the internecine warfare you have been engaged in, in recounting the slights made against you years ago and in response by others is quite tangential to the future of the Middle East and is really not the main game.

    So Brull wrote in Overland

    “If anyone in Australia should be singled out as poisoning public discourse with vicious and unwarranted charges of anti-Semitism, it is Mendes. Of Curthoys, for instance, Mendes suggested that he and John Docker were ‘remarkably unconcerned about the first Holocaust’ and that their ‘ideas could potentially lead to a second Holocaust.’ At new Jewish blog Galus Australis, Mendes thought it important to point out that Curthoys was also only ‘of part Jewish background’. He expressed his disappointment that Jewish leftists, such as those in the Australian Jewish Democratic Society, did not ‘aggressively confront’ Docker and Curthoys and their ‘hate-filled diatribes’. By that, Mendes referred to their advocacy of a one-state solution.,


    (Brull) For an encore, Mendes queried whether a talk I gave – whose contents he knew nothing about beyond the title (‘The influence of Zionism on Australian politics’) – was ‘connected to the Protocols of The Elders of Zion’. This is curious, given that he apparently follows my blog, and had quoted elsewhere an entry I wrote in January specifically naming and condemning supposedly pro-Palestinian anti-Semites.”

  • Andrew Casey says:

    So this is the stuff of progressive Jewish campaigning for justicefor Palestinians that I support. A great video about the activity of Rabbis for Human Rights. The field director Rabbi is actually an ex-Aussie. By all accounts a real mensch:


  • Andrew Casey says:

    The trend among global unions is clearly to support BOTH the Histadrut and the PGFTU as seek new opportunities to work together.

    Read this new report on the Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine website which outlines a recent high level union mission from the big white collar workers global union grouping UNI Global Union.

    Right now the former ACTU President, Sharan Burrow,now the global union leader of the top global trade union body the International Trade Union Confederation is leading another top level union mission to the region meeting Palestinian and Israeli counterparts.

    Interestingly a circular to the 900 trade unions across the globe affiliated to UNI Global suggests both the Palestinian and Israeli trade union movements have concerns about boycotts – but for vastly different reasons.


    The UNI Global Union has a world congress in Japan next November and will be discussing the Israel/Palestine crisis where an Action Plan is expected to be adopted.

  • Andrew Casey says:

    But for a little bit of balance let’s note that in South Africa things are different as COSATU is a major proponent of the BDS movement.

    This media release was issued by COSATU on Friday congratulating the SA Ministry of Tourism for Boycott of ISRAEL Tourism Conference


  • Kim says:

    Larry, Levi, Andrew:

    In order to have “conflict resolution” you need to have clarity as to what the conflict is about and in order to win peace, you first need to win justice. As Israeli socialist, Moshe Machover noted recently the I/P conflict is not a symmetric one of “two sides, two nations, at war with each other, locked in a series of battles over a piece of disputed turf. To end the conflict, the two sides need to end the war, sit down together and make peace”

    Machover correctly notes that Israeli hasbara seeks to promote the image of a symmetric conflict, in order to deny the settler-colonial nature of the conflict. As Machover points out the core of the conflict is about “dispossession and oppression” and that “peace will be an outcome of liberation, not its starting point”

    Levi: Thanks for the honourific, but as I am a woman I prefer “Ms” :) Regarding my knowledge of Palestine – I have lived in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for period totally almost two years over a 5 year period(and of that two years, 1 year was spent living there basically continuously), so I have extensive first hand knowledge of the Occupied Palestinian Territories and what goes on there. During my time living in Palestine, I actually worked with the Democracy and Workers Rights Centre (DWRC)in Ramallah for several months, so I have a very accurate knowledge of the issues in relation to Palestinian workers, who the unions are, who they represent and how many Palestinian workers they represent.

    I am genuinely interested in knowing what democratically elected body in the AWU (national or state) voted to adopt Paul Howes’ position on BDS, especially given his anti-BDS speeches are being promoted on the AWU website and he has publicly promoted the AWU as supporting an anti-BDS position. I would appreciate it if you could answer this question.

  • ariel says:

    Kim, when did the “Occupied Palestinian Territories” gain this name?

    Was it between 1948-1967 when The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan occupied the West Bank?

    Or was it in 1967 when that land was liberated from Jordan?

  • Marky says:

    Kim is so right. It is all about Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians. Can you think of anything more oppresive than when-a few days ago- this gentleman in Gazza was preparing to send some missiles to Israel? Do you know what those Israeli oppressors did to him? They killed him!! That was not only blatant oppression, but also dispossession. Liberation will only come when the good people of Gazza will be given full rights to possess missiles, explosive belts etc, to target men, women and children.

  • Marky says:

    Ariel, your link is a bit similar to a joke, when just before the Holocaust, a nazi stormtrooper asks a Jewish boy “Zhid, who started the war? (of course, to avoid a beating- or worse the boy’s response needed to be “the Jews”).

    The boy answered “the Jews and the bicycle riders”

    nazi: Why the bicycle riders?

    boy: why the Jews?

  • frosh says:

    Interestingly, Kevin Bracken, President of the Victorian Trades Hall Council and State Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia and known Israel basher has today fully outed himself as a 9-11 conspiracy guy.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Unfortunately Frosh, I had the misfortune to hear this idiotic statements at a Gaza protest where he spoke. I found it deeply disturbing, because this is a view widely held around the world, but one would hope that people in the west would have more sense. Many people in the audience in the rally applauded him.

    Unfortunately, there are views which connect Palestine-9/11-and everything else, particularly around the influence of neo-conservatives on the White House in the past. I have heard these views from a white Afrikaner and a secular Turk, so there are no limits to gullibility about how the world works.

    But this should not be used to bash people who have a much more enlightened view of politics. Part of ‘our’ task is to try sort out the wheat from the chaff.

  • Mohan says:

    There goes Mendes again smearing opponents – this time the BDS conference. I challeneg Mendes to show us where and when the BDS conference encouraged “war and violence” against Israel.

    Mr Mendes the self-professed leftis should follow his own sermon first and not smear opponents.

  • Mohan says:

    Mendes get your facts rights, Kim Bullimore is not in the DSP, the DSP does not exist any more and it was not a Trotskyist party for decades. Tut tut such ignorance from a professor.

  • Marky says:

    Mohan, it is you who is ignorant. Dr Mendes did not write that “the BDS conference encouraged war and violence against Israel”

    He wrote that about some on the left. Which is correct.

  • Mohan says:

    The DSP was a part of the “abolish Israel crowd – so says Mendes! Pray! learned professor, How can Israel be “abolished” ?

  • Mohan replies to marky says:

    Marky you are correct. I am ignorant. Obviously I have made up “inspiring war and violence” in Mendes’ article. Unfortunately for you, You must be the only person incapable of reading the written word. Smearing only proves my point. Please take the trouble of getting some one to help you read the Mende’s posting.

  • Anonymous says:

    Mohan is presumably Narendra Mohan Kommalapati. He is a long-time anti-Zionist fundamentalist, activist in the Trotskyist Democratic Socialist Party, and regular contributor to the DSP newspaper, Green Left Weekly. Even when I was a vigorous advocate of Palestinian national rights in the 1990s prior to the brutal irrational violence of the so-called Second Intifada, he would write letters attacking me as an alleged far right-winger. He has never accepted Israel’s right to exist.


  • Marky says:

    Mohan, now you have not only turned Dr Mendes’s words around, but mine also.

    “How can Israel be abolished?”
    Far be it for me to give you ideas. However, I am sure you have thought some up.

  • Mohan replies to PM says:

    Hello PM or whatever your name is. For Your information I am not a member of DSP and have never been. DSP is not trotkysit and I never had a debate with anyone who calls themselves PM.

    And the rest is smear as usual- what is an Anti-Zionist fundamentalist ? Presumably one who has an irrational hatred of Zionism ?

    IMy opposition to Zionism is based on eminently rational, historical facts and you are welcome to debate them. It will help if there is no slander or smears in the process.

    Please feel free to write to greenleft or here stating your position
    and I will respond with facts and logical argument.

  • Mohan replies Anonymous says:

    Anonymous – PM is presumably Philip Mendes who withdrew from Greeleft after directing a torrent of distortion and slander, when readers began pointing out his distortions. And who refused the offer for an open debate on Israel/Palestine in Greenleft.

    PM distorts again, What exactly is “Israel’s right to exist” the right to exist wherever it expands without declared borders ?

    If anonymous-PM means the 1967 borders and an independent Palestinian state – not a municipality or bantustan without control,over borders, airspace and army – which Palestinians want – I am happy to go along with the solution. I have no great interest in Israel after that.

    SO where does that leave facts on the ground – does PM or anonymous demand that Israel should withdraw to its 1967 borders and return the Golan Heights and Shaba farms to Syria and Lebanon ? Does Anonymous PM oppose the programme of settlement expansion ? Does he openly call for a return of these territories and return to the greenline ?

  • philip mendes says:

    Narendra Mohan: It is very pleasing to hear that you have now renounced your publicly stated beliefs of the past 15 years, and joined the civilised group who support Israeli-Palestinian peace and reconciliation via a two-state solution.

    This means that you no longer adhere to the irrational religious-style fanaticism that underpins anti-Zionist fundamentalism. That perspective regards Israel as a racist and colonialist state which has no right to exist. Adherents hold to a viewpoint opposing Israel’s existence specifically and Jewish national rights more broadly which is beyond rational debate, and unconnected to contemporary or historical reality.

    Israelis and their Jewish supporters are depicted as inherently evil oppressors by the simple process of denying the historical link between the Jewish experience of oppression in both Europe and the Middle East and the creation of Israel. Conversely, Palestinians are depicted as intrinsically innocent victims. In place of the fundamental and objective centrality of the State of Israel to contemporary Jewish identity, anti-Zionist fundamentalists portray Israel as a mere political construct, and utilize ethnic stereotyping of all Israelis and all Jewish supporters of Israel in order to justify their claims.

    The purpose of negating the reality of Israel’s existence is to overcome the ideological barrier posed by the Left’s historical opposition to racism. Any objective analysis of the Middle East would have to accept that Israel could only be destroyed by a war of partial or total genocide which would inevitably produce millions of Israeli Jewish refugees, and have a catastrophically traumatic effect on almost all Jews outside Israel. But advocacy of genocide means endorsing the most virulent form of racism imaginable. So instead anti-Zionist fundamentalists construct a subjective fantasy world in which Israel is detached from its specifically Jewish roots, and then miraculously destroyed by remote control free of any violence or bloodshed under the banner of anti-racism.


  • Mohan replies says:

    Hello PM i Have never renounced my publicly stated beliefs. I stand by what I said. Israel is a racist colonal state and as I said if the Palestinians are happy with an indepent country, I will go along with it.
    This does not change the history of colonisation and racism any more than reconciliation change Australian colonial history. And the rest is the old distortions about genocide and advocay of genocide and meaningless terms such as “anti-Zionist fundamentalism”
    I have invited you to an open debate if accepable please state your case and what you mean by the terms for instance Zionism, Jewish roots and destruction. And where was this case of personalised slander and abuse rather than discussing fact on the ground. I understand academics in social sciences study methodology in research and assignment writing.
    And what are

  • Mohan replies two says:

    PM as usual resorts to slander and personal abuse about “irration religiuos, fanaticism etc etc. When all i have tried to steer towards is a principled debate on rational, historical grounds. This is nothing but harking to the smear, slander, abuse, intimidate tactics we saw in the hannan Ashravi case or in the debate in GLW.
    I migh remind that I mentioned principled debate. Whether Palestinians are inherently good or evil or otherwise is of no great interest to me. I have not spoke about stereotypes but about facts. As I said Hic Rhodes hic saltus.
    Where do you stand on the issue of the 1967 borders, Golan Heights, Shaba Farms, settlements, barrier, a de-militarised semi-state with no control over borders, airspace and wireless network. Do you call for a withdrawal of settlements and an independent sovreign state ?

    There is nothing about any person written here, no smear, no abuse, no slander, no distortion. These are the facts on the ground. As a wiseman said, the rest is commentary.

  • Mohan replies two says:

    It will help if you stop patronising distortions of fact about “joining the civilised..” and I had invited you to support your contention about colonisation, racism and historical claim etc.

    If acceptible, I suggest the following principles.

    No personal abuse, slander, stereotypes, distortion.

    Accepted definition of terms such as Zionism.

    Dealing with the substance of an argument, not one’s take on it.

    Clearly stated, rational and universal standards of argument.

    Support of statements with historical, contemporary evidence.

    Following arguments to their logical conclusion.

  • Mohan replies toPM says:

    I have waited for nearly two weeks to hear from PM. Guess I need not hold my breath.

  • Jaques says:

    Eds: Comment removed, as it was defamatory, not to mention a very long and off-topic wild conspiracy-theory rant.

  • Wolf says:


    Your argument is so poor, it doesn’t even warrant a rebuttal. In fact, its so fantastical and mythical, that any free thinking person couldn’t possibly take it seriously.

    Thank you for saying what you really mean. I just wish others were so stupid as to preach their antisemitic tirades so openly.

    Just a side point. Today is Tisha’b’Av, we are currently commemorating the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. We still speak the same Holy language, and we still hold Jerusalem. Where is Rome? Babylon? Ancient Greece? The Third Reich?

    You should learn the lesson. The wicked enemies of Israel fall, but ultimately, the goodly Holy nation of Israel is forever.

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