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Jewish and Voting Green

August 25, 2013 – 9:15 am93 Comments

By Devin Rudaizky

jewish green2With the Federal Election approaching, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in conversations I’ve had with my Jewish contemporaries. First, my conversational partner will usually lament the fact that the two main choices in this election, Labor and Liberal, are so indistinguishable from one another on so many fronts that the electorate seems robbed of choice. Then, upon my suggestion that they vote for the Greens, a party that has proved itself to be consistently humanistic, environmentally conscious and future-oriented, my interlocutor will usually look bewildered and exclaim, “…but aren’t the Greens anti-Israel?” This claim is rarely challenged or scrutinised; indeed, it is almost accepted as an axiom of Australian politics. However, when examining the published policies of the Greens, along with statements made by their federal leaders, it is clear that this interpretation is ill informed.

To discover the Greens’ real policies, we need to look no further than what they have published online. On the Greens’ website, it is stated that they support “the democratic aspirations of both peoples” in Israel and the Occupied Territories, and “the legitimate rights and aspirations of the Israeli people to live in peace and security in their own independent, sovereign state”. Similarly, in an interview with the Australian Jewish News last year, Greens Leader Christine Milne confirmed “the Greens have always supported a two-state solution” and that “[BDS] is behind us”.

Those that peddle an anti-Israel portrayal of the Greens rely mainly upon statements made by a minority of members of State-level Greens in New South Wales (who do not influence the Federal Greens’ foreign policy), and by the pro-BDS Federal Senator Lee Rhiannon. However, by using Rhiannon as evidence of an anti-Israel bias they are applying double standards to how they evaluate the Greens compared with the other major parties. Indeed, where members of our community may overgeneralise Rhiannon’s views and assume they determine the Greens’ foreign policy platform, they avoid generalising on, for example, Labor Senator Doug Cameron’s labelling of Israel as a terrorist state, or Health Minister Tanya Plibersek’s accusations that Ariel Sharon is a war criminal. Here, presumably, it is fair to assume that these members do not control the foreign policy choices of a Labor-led government. Why, then, do these critics not have similar faith in the stances consistently reaffirmed by the Greens’ leaders?

Additionally, it is clear that regardless of the Greens’ policy platform on Israel, Israel-Palestine has never been and will never become their priority. Instead, the Greens continue to focus on their long-term vision for a fair and sustainable Australia.

However, our Jewish identities can still inform our choice at this election. The policies advanced by both the Labor and Liberal parties on asylum seekers, which deny the rights of genuine refugees, are antithetical to the Jewish moral imperative to “help the stranger”. In fact, the Rabbinical Council of Victoria recently “expressed its dismay” at these policies for this very reason. Indeed, asylum seeker policies should be surveyed through the lens of own experiences as refugees, such as that of the 1938 voyage of the SS St. Louis, the ocean liner of Jewish refugees that was repeatedly denied asylum and was forced to return its passengers to their fate in Europe. As Jews, we should look favourably upon the Greens because it is the only major party that has not resorted to using foreign lives as political pawns. Instead, it offers an alternative policy that is reasonable and humane.

For the wider Australian community, empowering the Greens has yielded very positive results. In the 2010 election, a vote for the Greens meant the implementation of carbon pricing, which has contributed to a 7% reduction in Australia-wide carbon emissions. It also meant a $5 billion dollar injection into Medicare funded dentistry to provide free dental care to all children between 2 and 17, to reduce waiting lists and to expand the public dental care system. In this election, a vote for the Greens will mean, inter alia, supporting equal educational opportunity, discontinuing the barbaric live export trade, protecting our environment, promoting social equality and investing in a sustainable economy. In these areas, and in others, the Labor and Liberal parties have converged on the side of populism and political opportunism. Consequently, at this election, a vote for the Greens is not an abandonment of support for Israel or of Jewish values; instead, it means throwing momentum behind a more forward thinking, compassionate and sustainable Australia.

For further information, please view this clip.

Devin Rudaizky is studying his second year of a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws at Monash University, where he is majoring in literature and politics. He also works as a Policy Officer at Left Right Think-Tank.

Shira Hadasha is hosting a panel featuring Michael Danby, kevin Ekendahl, and Ann Birrell next Shabbat. More information can be found here.

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93 Comments »

  • Pauly says:

    Great article. As a proud Jew I will be voting Greens this election. Climate change is my biggest issue and the other two parties also cannot be trusted to maintain our social services that make life in this country so great. We especially need a Greens balance of power in the Senate.

  • Sandy says:

    The Greens would tax the country into bankruptcy with their “forward thinking, compassionate and sustainable” fantasies.

  • Sandy says:

    Implementation of Greens policy would be the beginning of the end of Israel as a Jewish state. The Greens’ “two states” would both be Muslim and anti-Semitic.

    Just read this Greens resolution on Israel-Palestine: http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=8&ved=0CF0QFjAH&url=http%3A%2F%2Fgreens.org.au%2Fsites%2Fgreens.org.au%2Ffiles%2FIsrael_Palestine_1.pdf&ei=E1AZUo-UBYeriAfqmYDwCA&usg=AFQjCNGkPIYHIaVWjBkfGbslQP8QRc8eVw&sig2=hyO9D6ycJb92GqFlzT0MGg

    If you are Jewish and intend to vote Greens, you’re suicidal…

  • andrew wirth says:

    I agree that many progressive-minded voters (Jewish or not) will find themselves aligned with The Greens on many key issues (as I found in the ABC “vote compass”). However, I don’t agree that a “there is nothing going on here” attitude about the Greens and Israel-Palestine is supported by the evidence. The Greens’ attitude towards Israel–Palestine merits careful evaluation at the very least.

    The first line of evidence is the Greens policy statement itself. The policy is prefaced by the usual motherhood statements, but then there is the demand that Israeli military withdrawal from the WB should be “immediate and unconditional”. Not subject to the outcome of negotiations or the implementation of adequate security measures-unconditional. I don’t think any other Greens foreign policy statement (Tibet, Sri Lanka, West Papua, East Timor, Burma etc) demands unconditional action. Unconditional is another way of saying “no matter what the possible consequences”. That does not indicate a premium being placed on “…the aspirations of the Israeli people to live in peace and security”. In contrast, regarding Australian troops in Afghanistan, which have no direct security value for Australian citizens or interests, the strongest wording the Greens can produce is that Australian troops should leave “as quickly and safely as possible”.

    Yes, this might be dismissed as a quirk of policy wording- or it might represent the considered views of the party in one of the Greens’ longest and most detailed foreign policy statements. It needs to be considered.

    Regarding BDS, of course the party leaders reject this either for electoral reasons or because of sincerely held beliefs or both. Nonetheless the pro-BDS actions of several Greens members are on the public record and are ongoing (see here and here) The up and coming membership in the Young Greens recently conducted a Facebook poll asking whether Israel has a right to exist, and implying Israel’s existence and the rights of Palestinians are mutually exclusive – here). This is not the place to debate whether support for BDS can be construed as “anti-Israel”, but many members of the Jewish community would hold that the broader BDS movement is anti-Israel. (Lets dismiss the Young Greens’ questioning the rights of a UN member state to its continued existence as youthful exuberance.)

    The fact that Doug Cameron and others in the Labour party hold strong pro-Palestinian (and depending on your point of view, anti-Israel) views is a basis for concern as well (Cameron has said that Palestine is one of the three most important issues facing the world today- three!). It doesn’t diminish concerns about the Greens.

    Whether all this is enough to doubt the bona fides of the Greens on Israel-Palestine warrants discussion rather than being dismissed as “peddling”. Whether this one issue should have undue influence on ones vote is another, and more difficult question.

  • Sandy says:

    Greens MPs John Kaye and David Shoebridge proudly refused to sign the London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism, claiming that “signing the declaration turns MPs into vigilantes against anyone who raises concerns about the fact that Israel is unashamedly based on a religious or ethnic identity.”
    So while most nations on earth are based on an “ethnic identity”, these Greens are opposed to Israel being based on a Jewish identity.
    If you are Jewish and vote Green, you are promoting the destruction of your homeland.

  • kmg says:

    The ‘greens’ are just a ‘garden variety,’ anti-semitic party, that are fundamentally opposed to the existence of the state of Israel and would be pleased to see Israel replaced by a Palestinian state. milne, brown, brandt, rhianon et al. seen it all before!

  • Sandy says:

    The Australian editorial of 21 June sums it up nicely:
    “By flirting with BDS, the Greens forfeit the right to be considered a mainstream party. It demonstrates a preference for the company of the numbats and conspiracists in the dark and dangerous fringelands. Until the party disentangles itself, forcefully and unambiguously, from the BDS movement and those who would see a democratic, sovereign nation wiped from the map, its chances of being taken seriously are zero.”

  • Anything but Green says:

    There is nothing progressive about the greens. They are proudly supportive of minority freedoms (i.e. gay issues) as long as those minorities are not Jewish. They are a blatantly anti-Semitic party and any Jew who votes for them is over compensating for what they presumably believe is a pro-Israel anti=Palestinian bent in the wider Jewish community. Spiteful voting which has real consequences is a very misguided initiative.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    The focus on Israel above all other issues is a strong red flag and I think the deeply anti Israel (as distinct from anti occupation) attitudes within the Greens are not as marginal as the writer insists. But I commend the writer for addressing this in a rational and clear way.

    Andrew I agree with pretty much everything you say – but leaving aside the question of how much influence the extreme element in the party in NSW actually has – I’m struggling with the idea of how much weight to place on the Greens’ foreign policy, in my voting decision.

    To what extent do we as Australian citizens put a party’s foreign policy on Israel at the heart of our voting decision? The US can barely influence outcomes in Israel/Palestine – let alone Australia which is not a significant player.

    So isn’t it better to choose and use your vote on local issues where policy will, if the party gets more power, actually have an effect?

    The flip side is that the Greens, by having a more comprehensive policy on Israel/Palestine than they do on other global issues and conflicts, push pro Israel no matter where they sit in the spectrum of Israeli politics, in the direction of making their vote about Israel to a greater degree than is sensible…

  • andrew wirth says:

    Mandi, agreed that’s the big question, but somewhat theoretical as Greens are not an issue for my electorate, and there is only one Vic Green senator who is not up for reelection.

  • George Fink says:

    The Greens’ published Foreign Policy Statement causes concern. It clearly selects Israel, out of all 193 imperfect nations for 3-page critical analysis and attack. Yes, the FP Statement does mention about 9 other nations, but, with the exception of Japan which is criticized re Fukushima, these attract no more than a few lines of neutral comment. Given that Israel does not criticize the 220+ year illegal occupation and exploitation by white anglo-celt settlers of 7 million square kilometres of the Indigenous-owned Terra Australis, it seems inappropriate for any Aussie political party to put Israel in its gun sights. Furthermore, Israel is largely irrelevant to Australia’s economy and well being. It is difficult to sweep the Greens BDS policies and actions under the carpet…how can one trust them?

    That said, Rudd and Bob Carr have clearly expressed Labor’s policies …and the Coalition are simply liars.

  • Ilan says:

    A question which is slightly off topic: Voting for the Australian election at the Embassy in Tel Aviv opens tomorrow. Should Australian olim living in Israel vote in Australian elections? Does it make a difference if these olim still pay taxes in Australia? Does it make a difference if these olim’s entire families are still in Australia? Does it make a difference if these olim are still very much up to date on issues in Australian politics? Does it make a difference if these olim have no intention of returning to Australia to live? Can a parallel drawn between non-resident Israeli-passport holders voting in Israeli elections and Australian olim voting in Australian elections? What are the similarities/differences? Obviously, those who hold the legal right to vote *can* vote, but should they?

  • Nivs says:

    I hate to burst your bubble David but, the greens pushed BDS ,a movement which, despite Christine Milne’s claim, denies the right of the State of Israel to exist. My local greens senator (WA), Scott Ludlam, frequents anti Israel demonstrations where the crowd chants ‘Palestine will be free from the river to the sea’, I know this also happens in other states. In NSW, greens MP’s have taken part in anti Israel and even anti American demonstrations. No other party has this claim to infamy. The greens are clearly anti Israel and many members are anti Semitic. They never spoke about freeing Gilad Shalit but they have taken part in the flotilla. I think you have to be honest about these things and call it as you see it. They are the anti Israel (and therefore anti Semitic) party of Australia. Denial doesn’t help.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    The attacks on the Greens appear to take place in complete ignorance of a considerable amount of sympathy for Palestinian rights amongst a good number of MPs of BOTH the major parties. the Murdreck press of course, in its pursuit of the Greens, plays this right down.

    Yet all the pro-Palestinian MPs I have met from all parties (Lib, Labour, Coalition) always say of course Israel has a right to exist. They all admire many aspects of Israeli life. They see tremendous potential for joint activity in peace. All argue that the problem is the occupation and human rights abuse, and that is Israel’s responsibility to get out. They are dismayed by local paranoia, accusations of being anti-Semitic, or attempts to wedge them as unsympathetic to Jews.

    Yet there is a selective attack on the Greens alone because they are more public in their views which align with the Israeli left more than anything else.

    So if you want to attack the Greens then you may as well attack political parties like Meretz, or organisations like Rabbis for Human Rights,Btselem and a host of others. You may also then want to attack the joint Geneva Accords (joint Israel-Palestinian civil society plans for peace, the ‘Saudi’ Peace Plan), and almost anything else that requires disruption to the status quo. You probably also believe that Israel can hold on to the Occupied Territories for ever and continue building a local form of permanent separate development and second class status for non-citizens. Thus, the local opposition to the Greens (and other MPs) because of their views on Israel equates to an opposition to the Israeli “Peace Camp” and the bulk of world opinion.

    Of course, there are a number of Green MPs who have taken some simplistic positions on the matter (Marrickville madness, egged on by both sides as far as I can see) –but consider the crude anti-communism of some Liberals which led to the defence of the indefensible in Vietnam, blatant anti-Semitism of the Uglies faction in NSW or alignments with crazy European anti-communists. That history of the NSW Liberals seems to have been conveniently forgotten.

    Yet all distraction has to be put into context.

    As Mandi has said, Israel (and in fact Palestine) shouldn’t be the concern why people vote (yet of course, both Libs and Labs play it up in particular electorates). Local issues should predominate. If you believe in base-line social justice and environmental priorities go Green and if you still believe it is possible, Labor. If you prefer a strong dose of Thatcherism go Coalition.

  • kmg says:

    larry, kenst zech gezeigenin mit de ‘greens’

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Larry no-one in Meretz would ever express views like those expressed by Shoebridge, Rhiannon and their cohorts.

    It’s not really helpful to refer to to organisations like Btselem and RHR – they are about rights which I believe are politically ‘agnostic’ – they don’t advocate for political outcomes – and certainly not for political outcomes that preclude the possibility of Jewish self determination in Israel, and which deny the connection of Jews to Israel as a homeland.

    The question is why the Greens as a party has leaders who hold views which do exactly those things. How marginal are they in the party?

    Andrew I think this issue is theoretical for most Jews in Victoria as the Greens do not have real contenders in any seat with a significant Jewish population…

  • DJR says:

    Just putting it out there – your Green vote isn’t necessarily impotent even if, in your electorate, there is a low Green primary. Firstly, your Senate vote is hugely important. Secondly, as long as the winning candidates see the Green primary growing, they will have to either adapt their own policies so that they win the votes back, or the Greens will eventually acquire the momentum to actually contest the seat.

    And Mandi, that’s a misconception that we aren’t (in Victoria) placed in seats where the Greens have strong primaries. Melbourne Ports (where Michael Danby is incumbent) is seen as the third biggest battleground for the Greens in Victoria (after the divisions of Melbourne and Batman). Melbourne Ports is the electorate for lots of very Jewish suburbs, like Caulfield, Elwood and St. Kilda. In fact, in 2011 nearly 13% of Melbourne Ports was Jewish. That’s very very significant!

  • George Fink says:

    Larry Stillman, as usual, misses the point. Of what relevance is Israel to Australia’s economy, infrastructure,welfare, ethics (especially wrt to the occupation and suppression of Australia’s Indigenous Population and Australia’s horrific mistreatment of asylum seekers)etc? Do any Israeli political parties have official policies on Australia (other than positive support,e.g. Security Council…for!!)? If not, what ethical and moral right does any Australian political party have to pontificate on Israel? And why is Israel selected for denigration from all the imperfect 193 nations? It would be great, if just for a change, Stillman could address these major questions rather than peppering the issue with a barrage of irrelevant flack…Yes we could support the rabbis of Chelm, X, Y and Z and even George Galloway if we wish: but we are discussing Aussie political parties and their policies!!!

    That said, Larry Stillman is probably correct re the fact that the level of endemic anti-Semitism and anti-Israel feelings is probably similar across all three main parties. However, the Greens, through their aggressive hypocritical BDS campaign, have placed themselves centre stage as the major opponents to Israel’s existence. How on earth can one justify a fanatical (almost 3rd Reich level) focus on BDS of Israel (ALONE of all the other imperfect nations!!!) in the context of an alleged main thrust towards a green energy policy for Australia and a positive humane approach to asylum seekers?

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Thanks DJR – and I have met Ann Birrell, the Greens candidate in Melbourne Ports who is impressive and has perfectly reasonable views on Israel. But realistically while it may be the 3rd biggest battleground for the Greens in Victoria, I don’t think Birrell has a real chance of winning the seat.

  • George Fink says:

    Mandy …agree 100% with your riposte to Larry.

    DJR, however, is correct that Ann Birrell is the Green candidate for Melb Ports. She has responded rationally to my emails re the Greens position re Israel. However,the Greens have a limited view, I think, on the capacity for Australia to absorb migrants…30,000 cap.. Compare this with Richard Pratt’s visionary Australia day oration (2005) in which he argued that Australia needs and, subject to proper infrastructure….water networks etc, could sustain a population of 50 million. Pratt emphasized the importance of migrants for stimulating the economy by the standard positive feedback mechanism…So I am satisfied that Ann Birrell is not distracted by Israel or BDS, but remain concerned about and mulling the Greens’ seemingly limited vision of how Australia should grow.(Michael Danby has not answered any of my requests for info…I think, mistakenly, he takes my vote for granted…although the alternatives are limited…the Aussie sex Party and the Coalition, whose candidate is gefarlich!…I would rather vote for Goebbels)

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Mandi,

    With respect, I think Btselem are pretty clear in the political implications of what they say and imply: a very strong rights implication that can only be achieved through constitutional and political fundamental changes, given their constituency. I take your point about RHR however, but they are also playing carefully.

    I should have said there are Israelis on the left who take an agnostic/post Zionist view and this includes a different take on ” Jewish self determination in Israel” ie not at any price to Palestinians, but rather as part of a binational package , and also a different take on what the “the connection of Jews to Israel as a homeland” should actually mean in new arrangements. Now, having such a viewpoint may not be Zionist, but it is not the same as being in the same camp as those who oppose Israel in any shape or form. We see such views being published in Haaretz all the time, they may be a minority viewpoint, but they are there. I think Israeli Pals such as Asma Aghbarieh-Zahalka also have much the same viewpoint.

    I am of course not quite sure where George Fink is at.

    Now, why are there some Greens who hold strong views? Because it is a divisive and polarized issue, that is why, and continuing occupation and brutality only continue to wedge productive activity. People go for the underdog on the left.

  • Joe in Australia says:

    Mandi Katz wrote:

    I’m struggling with the idea of how much weight to place on the Greens’ foreign policy, in my voting decision.

    To what extent do we as Australian citizens put a party’s foreign policy on Israel at the heart of our voting decision?

    There’s a lot to be said for that attitude towards foreign policy generally. I believe that in this case, however, The Greens’ policies betray antisemitic attitudes within their party. Their policy towards Israel is incoherent, and seems to be based on animosity rather than a regard for either Australia’s interests or for international law and equity.

    The Greens’ policy on BDS is actually domestic, not foreign, and is worth considering even if you think their attitude towards Israel is mostly irrelevant: it’s a policing and human rights issue, because its supporters often resort to barely-concealed racist slurs and even harass Australian Jews. Ann Birrell may be a nice person in herself but she’s associating with the wrong crowd.

  • ittayf says:

    Sandy,
    In regards to polices regarding the conflict, all three support a two state solution for Israel and Palestine. If you are against that, I’m not sure you have anyone to vote for.
    However, if one defines “Pro-Israel” as an answer to the question “Which party is most sympathetic to the agenda of the current Netanyahu Government” you would probably vote.
    1. Liberal
    2. Labor
    3. Greens

    However, if you were to vote on policies that directly affect Jews in Australia, like which party is most likely going to stop Abbott’s plan to repeal section 18C of the racial discrimination act, increase funding to Jewish and public schools through the Gonski reforms, treating asylum seekers in accordance with Jewish values of not oppressing the stranger, promoting multiculturalism through stoping cuts to ethnic broadcasting on ABC and SBS, you will vote
    1. Greens
    2. Labor
    3. Liberal

    As you make this consideration, it’s worth remembering that whichever party wins the most seats in the house and senate will probably have little impact on the outcome of the negotiations between Israel and Palestine, whereas the exact opposite is true in regards to the impact their polices will have on the future of Australia.

  • kmg says:

    the greens are anti-semitic and will ‘drive’ the abolition of shechitah followed by bris milah.

  • ittayf says:

    In addition to Melbourne Ports Candidate Ann Birrel, who has already been mentioned by others in this thread, I think it’s important to note that there are friends of the Jewish community in The Greens. For example:

    NSW Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham is among around 70 state parliamentarians who have added their signature to the London Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism in the last two weeks.
    Buckingham, who is a member of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel, is the only NSW Greens MP to have signed the declaration.

    “There’s a symbolic importance to sign this very important document that condemns anti-Semitism and reaffirms our commitment to stamp out anti-Semitism,” he told The AJN.

    “It’s important that all political parties recognise the dangers of anti-Semitism, recognise how disastrous it was in the 20th century, and we have to be mindful to stamp it out wherever it rears its ugly head – in any way, shape or form – in our modern society.”

    http://www.jewishnews.net.au/first-green-to-sign-london-declaration/30994

    Christine Milne also signed this statement:
    “The Australian Greens defend the right of all persons, to be able to live in an environment without discrimination and violence.
    The Greens do not tolerate or endorse anti-Semitism and we condemn all forms of discrimination on the basis of race, culture, ethnicity, religion or nationality.

    The Greens have championed anti-vilification legislation around Australia as an important mechanism in encouraging a tolerant community.
    Australian Greens policy supports the legitimate rights and aspirations of both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples to live in peace and security in their own independent, sovereign states.

    It is the Greens’ view that the only way to achieve this, is through a comprehensive negotiated settlement of the conflict leading to a two-state solution, with Israel and a Palestinian state living side by side within secure and internationally recognised borders.”

    http://christine-milne.greensmps.org.au/content/transcripts/statement-anti-semitism

  • Joe in Australia says:

    I think it’s important to note that there are friends of the Jewish community in The Greens.

    My friends don’t caucus with Jew-haters.

  • Yaron says:

    There is a distinction that needs to be made between voting based on a party’s view on Israel, and a party whose policies pose a threat to Israel’s existence.

    While I agree that we should not be making a choice based on the former, but the later would be a legitimate vote changer.

  • kmg says:

    the ‘greens’ care more about ‘cows’ than they do human beings!

  • George Fink says:

    Larry, in response to your statement: “I am of course not quite sure where George Fink is at.” It’s simple

    First, I make a clear distinction between Australia and Israel.
    As I tried to make clear above to the best of my knowledge there are no negative Israeli policies wrt to Australia. Equally, it would be rather nice if Australia had no negative policies wrt Israel. Overall, I believe that it is dangerous to throw stones from within a glass house…and so I take huge offence at any Aussie or Aussie Party that criticizes Israel given Australia’s previous, current and continuing immoral behavior wrt to its own Indigenous Peoples, the asylum seekers and involvement in the Coalition of the Willing in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Morality aside, I believe that the Israel issue is a mindless distraction for Aussie Pol Parties and the Electorate.

    Second, re Israel, I support the Barak/Clinton (2000) and Olmert/Bush (2008) plans and am sorry that they were rejected by Arafat and Abbas, respectively. However, the exponential increase in collaboration between Israelis and Palestinians in commerce, the professions and security suggests that Livni and Erekat may strike a suitable deal…I am agnostic in that respect, as long as Israel maintains an effective IDF (i.e. I remain a Zionist and do not believe that any of our immediate neighbors wish us well or that we should commit suicide). I am not pro-Settlement!

    Third, in spite of cordial exchanges with Ann Birrell and Christine Milne, I am mulling over my residual concerns that are similar to Mandy’s….At this stage I cannot exclude the possibility that I may well grit my teeth and vote Labor as I have throughout my life. In favour of Danby is the fact that he made clear in his AJN rebuttal of the Magid “Curb your compassion” op-ed and in other publications that he favors a humane positive approach to the refugees …but was clearly hammered by Gillard and Rudd …who no doubt threatened to withdraw the whip from him if he persisted in opposing the official party line. So still thinking…

  • George Fink says:

    Ittayf

    What on earth gives the Greens the right to make the following pompous declaration…

    “It is the Greens’ view that the only way to achieve this, is through a comprehensive negotiated settlement of the conflict leading to a two-state solution, with Israel and a Palestinian state living side by side within secure and internationally recognised borders.”

    Of what relevance is the Israel-Palestine issue to Australia?

    How would you and Australia view the following statement from say Likud?:

    “It is Likud’s view that the only way to achieve this, is through a comprehensive negotiated settlement of the conflict between the Australian occupation forces and Australia’s Indigenous People leading to a two-state solution, with “White Australia” and an “Indigenous Australian state” living side by side within secure and internationally recognised borders.”

  • Sandy says:

    Ittayf
    Yes all three parties support a two-state solution, but their policies are not identical.
    The Greens specify that the borders should be the 1948 armistice line, that the area for the proposed Arab state be handed over immediately and Judenrein, that the security fence be immediately dismantled, and that Arabs from the Israel side of the armistice line be allowed to return.
    That policy is entirely different to one in which all those Issues are negotiated and agreed by the parties.
    The Greens’ version is a recipe for the destruction of Israel.
    I repeat: a vote foe the Greens is a vote to destroy Israel as a Jewish state.

  • andrew wirth says:

    excerpts from NSW debate on motion condemning the BDS protests/Brenner protests

    http://parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/PARLMENT/hansArt.nsf/V3Key/LC20110915005?open&refNavID=HA8_1

    “The boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign is no more anti-Semitic than those who called an end to the attacks on the front-line ethnic groups in Burma are anti-Burmese. The boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign is no more anti-Semitic than those of us who have criticised the Syrian Government and its policies and called for boycotts against that government…Just as the consumer, trade and sporting boycotts against South Africa brought about change in that country, it is The Greens’ belief that these boycotts can bring about change in Israel and Palestine…I cannot support the motion, just as my Greens colleagues Bob Brown and Christine Milne in the Senate and other senators voted against a similar motion moved by The Nationals member Senator Boswell.” John Kaye NSW Greens

    “I join with my Federal colleagues—including Senator Bob Brown, Senator Christine Milne and Senator Lee Rhiannon—who opposed a similar motion in the Federal Senate earlier this week.” Shoebridge NSW Greens

    “We are not officially involved and we do not endorse it (Brenner protests). The word “condemn”, however, in paragraph (b) can mean to sentence someone or to condemn something as unfit to use or similar. All members need to be very careful how we use this term and, indeed, whom we condemn.” Kate Faerhmann NSW Greens

  • ittayf says:

    Hi George,
    As the conflict between Israel and Palestine is a significant world issue, every party has a position on it, as they do on Iran, Syria, Egypt and every other place where there is a conflict. All parties support a two state solution, but differ in their view of who should more responsible for making it happen.
    The view of the Labor Party, as expressed by Bob Carr is:

    “The Palestinians must abide by the terms of the Gaza ceasefire of November 2012 and end all rocket attacks on southern Israel. Israel must stop creating new settlements in the Palestinian territories.
    The Gaza rocket attacks undermine the credibility of the Palestinians as a partner for peace.

    Settlement activity is illegal and undermines confidence in Israel’s intentions and good faith at the negotiating table.
    It creates “facts on the ground” that have the potential to threaten the viability of a future Palestinian state.

    As a friend of Israel, I can say there is another fundamental issue at stake: the survival of Israel as a democracy.
    The fact now is that the durability of Israeli democracy requires the existence of a viable Palestinian state.

    Without it, Israel will be trapped, governing a burgeoning Arab population to whom it cannot grant full and equal civil rights and remain a Jewish state.
    I was pleased by Australia’s decision to abstain in the UN General Assembly on the vote to grant the Palestinian Authority UN observer status.
    Our abstention conveyed a message every bit as definitive as a yes or no vote.

    The message we sent, in the company of Britain, Germany and 38 other nations who abstained, is that the only durable basis for the resolution of this conflict is direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians
    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/no-plan-b-for-middle-east-peace-20130701-2p789.html#ixzz2cyWuFuHW

    This is the Liberal View, as express by Julie Bishop is:
    “The path to peace is for the Palestinian leadership to officially recognise the right of Israel to exist and to halt the firing of rockets and mortars as part of a campaign by militants to terrorise and kill Israeli civilians.
    Australia has long supported the two-state solution and the right of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples to live peacefully and in safety within internationally recognised borders.
    We urge both sides to resume negotiations towards a lasting peace in the region.”
    http://www.juliebishop.com.au/portfolio-media-releases/1159-labor-decision-to-abstain-on-palestinian-un-vote.html

  • ittayf says:

    Hi Sandy,
    A two state solution along the 1949 armistice lines with land swaps is not ‘suicide’ for Israel. In fact, when this idea was put forward at the UN last year, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said:

    “I believe that the Palestinian request from the United Nations is congruent with the basic concept of the two-state solution. Therefore, I see no reason to oppose it. Once the United Nations will lay the foundation for this idea, we in Israel will have to engage in a serious process of negotiations, in order to agree on specific borders based on the 1967 lines, and resolve the other issues. It is time to give a hand to, and encourage, the moderate forces amongst the Palestinians. Abu-Mazen and Salam Fayyad need our help. It’s time to give it.’
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/11/28/exclusive-former-israeli-pm-olmert-supports-palestine-u-n-bid.html

  • Mandi Katz says:

    But is a policy which calls for immediate and unconditional withdrawal from the territories really a policy which supports a negotiated settlement?

  • Wiz says:

    Excellent, well-informed and thought provoking article. It’s important that we vote from a rational and informed position, and that we examine our options with an open mind, as the article helps us to do.

  • ittayf says:

    Hi Mandi,
    The unbalanced Greens policy in March 2010 did call for “immediate and unconditional withdrawal.”

    Christine Milne’s statement in 2013 has been updated to call for “comprehensive negotiated settlement of the conflict leading to a two-state solution, with Israel and a Palestinian state living side by side within secure and internationally recognised borders.”
    I support the 2013 statement.

  • andrew wirth says:

    Ittay, the “immediate and unconditional” quote is from the policy currently on the Greens Website – can you post a link to the updated policy?

  • Wiz says:

    In the documentary, ‘The Gatekeepers”, those with an intimate and real understanding of the Israeli situation all strongly reinforce the fact that the only way forward is to negotiate a two state solution.

    As suggested in the above article, we can be true to our Jewish values and to our love of Israel, and also cast our votes in a way that reflects our wishes for “a more forward thinking, compassionate and sustainable Australia”.

  • ittayf says:

    Hi Andrew,
    The 2013 position I quoted from is on the webpage of Greens Leader Christine Milne.
    http://christine-milne.greensmps.org.au/content/transcripts/statement-anti-semitism

    You are right that the two statements contradict each other. I only support the 2013 view.

  • George Fink says:

    But Ittayf, you do not say whether or not you support the hypothetical statement of the Likud party…which could equally be Meretz’s statement: viz

    “It is Meretz’s view that the only way to achieve this, is through a comprehensive negotiated settlement of the conflict between the Australian occupation forces and Australia’s Indigenous People leading to a two-state solution, with a “White Australian state” and an “Indigenous Australian state” living side by side within secure and internationally recognised borders.”

    Thanks all I now think I know how to vote in Australia’s best interest

  • Joe in Australia says:

    As the conflict between Israel and Palestine is a significant world issue, every party has a position on it, as they do on Iran, Syria, Egypt and every other place where there is a conflict.

    Hiya Ittayf. The Greens’ policy document doesn’t seem to mention Israel, but I was inspired to look up Christine’s own views from her website. Her Statement on anti-Semitism has a broken link to Australian Greens Resolution on Israel Palestine., but I think this must be it. I note that it refers to “occupied territories including East Jerusalem”. Is it the Greens’ position that, e.g., the Western Wall be under Palestinian control? The Mount of Olives? The Jewish Quarter? How about Mount Scopus?

    I also found this motion on her website, which accuses Israel of committing “atrocities”. The article is extraordinarily one-sided; it effectively gives a green (hah!) light to terror attacks on Israel by claiming that “the parties to the conflict are not equivalent as Israel is the world’s fifth largest military power and Palestine has a weakened and constricted economy and is subject to restrictions on freedom of movement and goods in breach of international law […]” Her facts are wrong, of course: Israel isn’t even in the top ten military powers (cite 1, <a href="http://elitedaily.com/news/world/top-10-military-powers-world/"2, 3), but that’s hardly the point: she is obviously very angry about Israel, but sanguine about its enemies.

    I started looking at statements by other politicians in her party, but it was a cesspool of hate. No wonder she seems a friend in comparison.

  • Joe in Australia says:

    Oops, this seems to be The Greens’ policy on Israel and my second sitation is here. Is there a way to preview before posting on this website? There really ought to be.

  • kmg says:

    After Tzipi and Saeb have concluded an agreement with the PLO, including a 2 states for 2 peoples solution plus land swaps, what will you give Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood et al?

  • andrew wirth says:

    Ittay, Milne’s statement was in relation to anti-semitism and was not presented as a revision of the 2010 Israel-Palestine statement, which still stands as official Greens policy. More recently, Milne was advocating Australia use its security council membership to push particular policies on Israel-Palestine, including immediately lifting the blockade of Gaza. If the Greens are going to seek to have their policies implemented through international fora then their views are of more relevance. http://christine-milne.greensmps.org.au/content/motions/motion-gaza-conflict

  • ittayf says:

    Hi Joe,
    I don’t support all of the Greens polices, especially the ones you mentioned. As I mentioned earlier I do support Milne’s 2013 statement, and also tend to agree with more Greens polices than I do with the ALP/LNP, especially when it comes to the treatment of asylum seekers. By the way, the Greens are not the only party with contrary views on their website. For example, in relation to a bill calling for an amendment to the Migration Act in 2006, Michael Danby said:

    “The most deplorable aspect of this bill is that it revives the discredited Pacific solution…We cannot really guarantee that asylum seekers sent to Nauru or any other place outside Australia will be properly treated.
    With all the goodwill in the world, prolonged detention there cannot be but psychologically harmful, especially for families with children, but also for single people separated from families.

    Under this bill we once again have de facto indefinite detention, because even genuine refugees will be stuck on Nauru until third countries agree to take them on. Under this bill children can once again be detained. They can be detained on Nauru indefinitely. Under this bill detained people will once again be denied adequate mental health care, which is impossible to provide on Nauru, an environment almost guaranteed to cause mental health problems… This bill is a disgrace to Australia and a disgrace to this government. It is an attempt to fix a foreign policy problem at the expense of vulnerable and friendless people.
    http://www.danbymp.com/component/content/article/19-unassignedpages/1070-governments-disgraceful-migration-amendment-bill.html

    In 2013, Michael Danby is now calling on voters in Melbourne Ports to support the ALP “offshore processing” plan in both Nauru and PNG, which in 2006 he called a “disgrace to Australia.”

  • andrew wirth says:

    At Ittay’s suggestion, and for completeness, I include Kate Faerhmann’s statement in the NSW debate which is admittedly more nuanced than the other Greens statements. (It is in the link which I included above and again here http://parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/PARLMENT/hansArt.nsf/V3Key/LC20110915005?open&refNavID=HA8_1)

    The Hon. CATE FAEHRMANN [12.45 p.m.]: The Greens have a strong and principled position on the question of the Israel-Palestine conflict in the Middle East. The Australian Greens resolution on the matter makes clear our support for the rights and aspirations of both the Palestinian and the Israeli people to live in peace and security in their own independent, sovereign States. The ongoing injustices against the Palestinian people, including ongoing occupation of the Palestinian territories and the expropriation of Palestinian land and resources for Israeli settlements, is unacceptable. The Greens are extremely critical of Israeli Government actions in this area.

    The motion moved by the Hon. David Clarke deals specifically with recent events in Australia and protests which have targeted the Max Brenner stores. The motion is, of course, as we all know in this place, a highly cynical exercise. This is an attempt to score political points and has nothing to do with finding a just peace in the Middle East, as many speakers have said. I will address the content of the motion. Paragraph (a) notes with concern the boycott, divestment and sanctions [BDS] campaign targeting businesses which operate in Australia. The campaign is a tactic used by some Palestinian human rights campaigners. The boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign urges various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law. I agree that this tactic has been extremely controversial and its success in Australia has been brought into question. The Greens New South Wales are currently undertaking a review of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign.

    Paragraph (b) condemns the targeting of Max Brenner by protesters. While I do not agree with much of what other members have said in this debate, I share the concern of some members that the tone and public perception of these protests have been counterproductive and they are of concern to me. The Greens do not endorse the Max Brenner protests. The Greens are not involved in the organisation, promotion or otherwise of these events. I note that some members have tried to directly link The Greens with those protests. We are not officially involved and we do not endorse it. The word “condemn”, however, in paragraph (b) can mean to sentence someone or to condemn something as unfit to use or similar. All members need to be very careful how we use this term and, indeed, whom we condemn. To that end I move:

    That the question be amended as follows:

    1. In paragraph (b), omit “calls on all members to condemn” and insert instead “notes with concern”.

    2. Insert after paragraph (d):
    (e) supports Australia’s rich heritage of peaceful protest and the right of all Australians to participate in peaceful protest”.

    The right to peaceful protest is something The Greens fundamentally support and, we believe, should be emphasised. I note that many members of this Chamber have said that they support the right of legitimate peaceful protest. Paragraph (c) notes that some of the rhetoric used by those involved in the boycott, disinvestment and sanctions campaign has descended into anti-Semitism. In my view certain chants used at the protest have descended into that domain. The Hon. Eric Roozendaal mentioned the “From the river to the sea” chant. I echo his concerns about it and do not support its use. It is unfortunate and it should be condemned. I therefore support paragraph (c) of the motion. Paragraph (d) calls on the House to condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms. Dr John Kaye moved a similar motion this morning and it was agreed to by this House. The sentiment in that paragraph is of course completely noncontroversial and I also support it.

    I urge all members to support my amendments. I recognise that they may not succeed, and if they do not I have no choice but to support the motion as it stands. I note that the motion moved in the Senate this week, which The Greens supported, was slightly different from this motion. It did mention The Greens, Greens member of the Legislative Council Jeremy Buckingham and other issues. It is therefore very different from this motion. In fact, if the motion moved by Senator Boswell in the Senate were moved in this House I, too, would vote against it. However, I do not support the way in which this motion is being used as a political weapon against The Greens. It is being used in a manner similar to that used by the Hon. Penny Sharpe when she moved a motion about Marrickville Council garbage workers going on strike. Like that motion, this motion is being used to bash The Greens. I have given this motion a great deal of considered thought and I have found it difficult to arrive at this decision, but I can only vote in support of it.

  • kmg says:

    Never read so much rubbish! the greens do not support the jews, they support the palestinians! wake up!

  • R B says:

    The anti-Israeli stance of the Greens (why did the author ignore the online question to the party’s members “Do you think that Israel has the right to exist”?) is not the main reason for not voting for them.

    I have some friends, who tried to convince me to work for them. Having read their Web site, the Greens are going to be the last on my list. This is a “Loony Left” party – it seems that they live in some la-la dreamland, demand much more public expense for useless projects while trying to ban some of Australia’s important sources of income, and undermining Australia’s sovereignty.

    More power to the Greens is bad for Australia.

  • R B says:

    Ilan,

    Israeli expats are now allowed to vote in Israeli elections, unless they work for the state (e.g. diplomats).

    There were some suggestions to change that, and there is a debate in Israel about this issue. Personally, I would not have voted in Israeli elections while living in Australia, even if I had the right to do so. Most Israelis whom I know disagree with me.

  • Frank says:

    Great article. Good to see the youth being so outspoken.

    I’ll be voting Greens in two weeks.

    BECAUSE:
    a. As a man with an interest in a moral world, even if they can’t produce great policies, they are value conscience and those type of MPs are important in a government full of mostly politically minded bullshit.

    b. As a scientist (field of astrophysics), I fear a PM who until recently was a climate change denier. I want a government that has at least A LITTLE respect for the scientific community. We don’t make up evidence! We analyse, test, falsify or confirm. Just because you are uncomfortable with finding out the most plausible case for our reality, doesn’t grant you merit to simple not accept it. By the way, Abbot has the same problem with the science on homosexuals being both a genetic and environmental phenomenon that is not unique to human species but actually common in animals as well – but of course he will deny this based on its discomforting appeal.

    c. As a son, I feel a responsibility to having policies that are more just for ‘boat people’. The current policies resemble what my father said is the same policies that didn’t original let him in from post-war Europe many years ago.

    d. As supporter of every people for self-determination, I feel a responsibility not only to my fellow Jews (and thus I support the existence of a moral-conscious Israel) and a responsibility to my fellow man (be her or him a Jew, a Palestinian or an Australian). Thus, when supporting the self-dertimation of the Jews (Israel), it only makes sense to support the same for other peoples (Palestine). This is exactly what the Greens outline in their document posted above by Sandy. Even if their foreign policies are not perfect and meaningless when voting for them, they seem to have it right on a grass root level.

    e. As a layman of politics, I have never been heavily into politics but rather concerned with how the world actually works (science) but Greens seem the logical choice for an abundance of reasons.

    I appeal to my fellow Jewish community to put an end to all this political bullshit about the Greens. We all know that a vote for them is not a vote that will place them as the government. All it means is ensuring that on some small level, there will be a minister speaking out for a morally conscious world, rather than for their own political ends.

    Regards,
    Frank.

  • Ilan says:

    @ R B

    Yes, I was referring to non-resident Israelis flying to Israel specifically in order to vote.

  • George Fink says:

    Am not sure that this adds anything to the discussion other than underscoring yet again the well known fact that “The Greens are extremely critical of Israeli Government actions in this area.” However, this “area” has no relevance for Australia’s Economy, Growth, Welfare and Defence,the development and deployment of green and renewable energy strategies in Australia, the implementation of humane on-shore methods of “processing” asylum seekers in Australia and the achievement of a just and equitable solution to the ongoing occupation and suppression by Australian Forces of the Indigenous Population of Australia.

    Of course the Greens and all Australians should continue to have “The right to peaceful protest”. But, equally, I hope, Australians might be allowed to retain the right to vote against the Greens’ total, laser-focused obsession with the maligned State of Israel.

    One is left to wonder whether the Greens are prepared to expend a similar amount of energy on any conflict in which the Jews are not involved. Thus, for example, it is difficult to find evidence of similar outspoken policies by the Greens on the appalling civil war in Syria, the Sunni – Shiite conflicts which pose a real threat to “world peace”, on the several barbarian conflicts in Africa and Latin America, on the recent elections in Zimbabwe, on Australia’s involvement in the illegal war on Afghanistan etc. Since Jews seem to be the dependent variable in the Greens’ unswerving magnificent obsession…might this suggest a hint of anti-Semitism…not that it matters, for that which we call anti-Semitism, by any other name stinks as much.

  • Devin says:

    RB –

    You asked ‘why did the author ignore the online question to the party’s members “Do you think that Israel has the right to exist”?’

    The reason I didn’t address it is because it has absolutely nothing to do with the Greens’ foreign policy platform. It wasn’t posted on Christine Milne’s page, who is the leader of the Federal Greens and is responsible for their foreign affairs portfolio. It wasn’t even posted on the “Australian Greens” Facebook page. It was posted on (and later removed from) the Young Greens of NSW Facebook page, a page which currently has less than 500 followers.

    Naturally, neither the Young Greens of NSW nor the social media convenor of the Young Greens of NSW controls or has any influence over the Federal Greens’ policy.

    Thus, if I had addressed it, I would have been legitimising the view that the Young Greens of NSW is an important player in the federal parliamentary process. Evidently, the social media convenor of the Young Greens of NSW agrees with me, stating “the Greens is also not an authoritarian party. We are free to disagree with our party leader because it fosters debate. Leaders aren’t always right”.

    Luckily, this time, the policy with to this member was referring was the one supporting a Two State Solution.

  • Devin says:

    to which*

  • George Fink says:

    my post refers to the post by Andrew Wirth re Kate Faerhmann’s statement

  • hayim says:

    Here is one Jew, Israeli and Australian who will most DEFINITELY be voting Greens in 2 weeks.

    There is simply no question — they are the only party that is true to any sort of humanistic and enlightened values. End of story.

    As for the Israel-Palestine issue:

    George Fink — Australia has a right to care because it is part of the world, and therefore shoulders responsibility to encourage just resolutions to all conflicts.It should care because Australia and Israel are allies, and allies don’t let allies act immorally and unrighteously. I am disappointed that Israel hasn’t commented on Australia’s shameful asylum seeker policy, but perhaps because it is embroiled in its own. I am also disappointed that Israel is not encouraging Constitution recognition of Australia’s Indigenous peoples, but well, we can see why they might not.

    More over, the Australian Jewish community supports Israel financially and in other ways, and therefore Australia has an interest, both on our behalf, and as the nation of its citizens, to ensure that that support is used for good and not ill.

    But this is all obvious, so I’d be surprised if someone like you, George, who is clearly intelligent, wasn’t already of aware of these, and wasn’t instead trying to derail important discussion by claiming ‘not our business’.

  • hayim says:

    Australia should also voice their concerns because unlike some other world conflicts, the Israeli-Palestinian one can actually be influenced by outside pressure. You’re not going to get a showdown with China about Taiwan or Tibet — that would be great, but it’s just not on the cards. Pick the battles you can make a difference in — that’s not hypocrisy, it’s just honest pragmatism.

    And Mandi:

    You might instead ask how NOT unconditionally leaving the WB can possibly be consistent with a negotiated settlement?

    Netanyahu and co. have zero interest in negotiating a settlement (that anyone else would agree to), and they know that so long as settlements go up and Palestinian land disappears, no negotiation is possible.

    What possible basis for trust do Palestinians have to negotiate, when Israel has continuously taken more and more land for almost the entire lifetimes of living Palestinians? When the PA has basically renounced violence and suppresses its own militant elements, while bulldozers continue to destroy and houses continue to sprout?

    Anyway, this is a different discussion.. but please do read the Greens’ policies, I hope you’ll be pleasantly surprised at their thoughtful engagement and compassionate solutions to a whole range of issues, and which make the other parties seem like a bunch of obnoxious school kids, or worse, Young Libs/Labs..

  • George Fink says:

    Go for it Hayim…but no need for the offensive garbage re Aussie financial support for Israel…its relatively miniscule…and does not justify Israel committing suicide as would be the case with no negotiated settlement (have a look at the Greens FP Position paper on Israel! Look what happened after the unilateral withdrawals by Israel from Lebanon and then Gaza. Israel was repaid by massive lethal missile barrages and the second intifada.
    If you do not understand why Israel does not comment on the unethical practices of other nations, then you know nothing about Jewish/Israeli history.

  • George Fink says:

    This type of collaboration of which there are now many will probably lead the way to an acceptable peace package between Israel and the Palestinians
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/richardbehar/2013/07/28/an-israeli-special-forces-soldier-an-arab-investor-a-religious-zionist-and-a-lofty-start-up-called-webydo/

  • George Fink says:

    Hayim…”Australia should also voice their concerns because unlike some other world conflicts, the Israeli-Palestinian one can actually be influenced by outside pressure. You’re not going to get a showdown with China about Taiwan or Tibet — that would be great, but it’s just not on the cards. Pick the battles you can make a difference in — that’s not hypocrisy, it’s just honest pragmatism.”

    This is obscene Hayim …if you reflect Greens new integrity…i.e. smash the little fellow because the big chap is too tuff… it’s not a Party for me

    Am I correct in thinking, Hayim, that your real name might be Nasrallah or is it Ahmed?

  • Galus Australis says:

    Hi George.

    Please don’t post multiple comments one after the other. Please wait until someone else comments before commenting again.

    Thanks :)

  • gs says:

    This has been an interesting discussion. Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts.

    I am a proud Zionist and supporter of the 2 state solution, and this election I have decided to vote for the Greens for the first time.
    I am doing this because the Greens are the only party that has any compassion towards those fleeing persecution. I cannot vote for Rudd or Abbot based on their horrific policies towards asylum seekers.

    Owing to this thread I have gone and read the Greens policies and the more I read the more I identify with their values and policies.
    Thanks Devin & Galus for helping me to decide who I am supporting at the voting booth next week.

  • Alex Fein says:

    GS, this discussion has also helped me decide how I’m going to vote. I was genuinely undecided before. I’d like to add my thanks to everyone who’s participated.

  • letters in the age says:

    I have already voted Green last week

    Adam Bandt is a lovely man and decent with no narrcisistic qualities

    The À.L.P is akin to a disfunctional Jewish family lol

    ;)

  • Wiz says:

    I agree with you, gs.

    I too am a proud Zionist and supporter of a two state solution. It has been helpful to read the rational, informed and unemotional discussion of the Greens’ policies, in the article and in this thread.

    As Jews living in Australia, I believe we have an obligation to consider all policies (economic, environmental, educational, asylum seekers, etc) when voting. While I am deeply supportive of and concerned about Israel, I don’t believe it’s right to support an Australian political party solely on the basis of their attitude towards the Netanyahu government. Many of us passionately support Israel’s right to exist, but we do not endorse Netanyahu’s approach.

    As Devin writes, “Additionally, it is clear that regardless of the Greens’ policy platform on Israel, Israel-Palestine has never been and will never become their priority. Instead, the Greens continue to focus on their long-term vision for a fair and sustainable Australia.” And as Ittayf says, “As you make this consideration, it’s worth remembering that whichever party wins the most seats in the house and senate will probably have little impact on the outcome of the negotiations between Israel and Palestine, whereas the exact opposite is true in regards to the impact their polices will have on the future of Australia”.

  • JamesD says:

    This dialog demonstrates well how with emotive issues there is a tendency for people to stop looking see what they want to see.

    The idea that in being pro-Palestinian you must by deduction be anti Israel is as simplistic as the reverse. Personally I support statehood and genuine human rights, including citizenship for all people. To agree that Ariel Sharon is a war criminal or that Israel has behaved as a terrorist state (just as the US, or Libya or countless others have) is not antithetical to supporting the rights of Israeli’s and Palestinians to live in peace and security. In fact acknowledging the sins of the past on all sides is necessary. Similarly, security cannot be assured for Israelis without securing it for for Palestinian’s and vice versa. Actions like the BDS that draw attention to the terrorising behaviour of any protagonist are ultimately part of the movement for peace and security.

    I encourage all people to consider what coloured glasses they may be inadvertently wearing. Taking care to look properly can help you make an informed decision.

  • George Fink says:

    James D…you seem to have misunderstood the major question which is whether in an Australian Federal Election one should vote for a party whose foreign policy is focused solely on the Israel-Palestine issue, especially since this issue has little or no bearing on the Economy and Welfare of Australia?

  • letters in the age says:

    George is correct…

    Israel is not even a priority amongst many mainstream Australians.

    Sadly Jews that i know of, (not in the J.D.S system) don’t really care either unless their parents are politically motivated Nerds or academics in their respective field.

    It’s a generational issue as well with subsequent generations having less to so with Jewish causes apart from the food and their grandparents.

    One big YAWN on Israel and Palestine in this election

  • Zionist? says:

    Isn’t it unfair to other Australians for us to preference Australia’s policy regarding Israel over internal policies that affect every Australian?
    I believe it is.
    However, I also do not wish to vote for a party that I think will make things worse for Israel in the international community.
    Therefore isn’t the logical conclusion, that if I wish my vote to be the best for all constituents of my country, and also the best for Israel, I should be voting in Israel where they are one and the same?
    As Australians we should be voting for the interests of Australia, maybe we should put Israel’s interests aside, or maybe we should put Australia aside and truly invest ourselves in Israel’s future by moving there, and voting in their elections.

  • JamesD says:

    George Fink
    I thought the question was more like “Why do people incorrectly perceive The Greens as Anti-Israel?”.

    Considering the policy and public statements of MP’s it’s hard to see how one can objectively arrive at the conclusion the party’s “foreign policy is focused solely on the Israel-Palestine issue”. A review of the website indicates a set of ‘Principles’ and ‘Aims’ and a list country specific statements on 11 nations:
    http://www.greens.org.au/policies/international-relations

  • George Fink says:

    James D…you are being disingenuous to say the least. Yes the website does mention 11 nations…but only Israel has the privilege of a 3-page totally one-sided strident haymaker. Approximately, one page is devoted to Japan and Fukushima. Comments on the remaining nine nations are limited to brief neutral observations or effete comments with a length of about 3-6 lines.

    But, I am grateful to you for allowing me to post the following amended comment:

    It is crucial for the Greens urgently to lead or at least facilitate a rational and coherent policy to deal with climate change! This should surely be the main focus of the Greens. For this reason I am forced to question whether in an Australian Federal Election one should vote for a party whose foreign policy is focused for all intents and purposes solely on the Israel-Palestine issue, especially since this issue is a major distraction that has little or no bearing on the Economy and Welfare of Australia or Climate Change?

  • dny says:

    Hey George Fink –

    What it really comes down to is, are you going to vote based on principle or pragmatism? Are you going to vote because you feel a piece of policy compromises your Zionist values because it is a couple of pages longer than the other policy papers on foreign policy? Or, when you cast your ballot, are you going to carefully consider the actually achievable outcomes of that vote?

    Climate change is probably the greatest moral challenge of our century, and neither of the major parties is tackling it with sufficient conviction. The Greens have proven that they are consistent on climate change and on the environment; and they have proven that they can affect policy in this area. A vote to the Greens is a vote for climate change action and a vote for a sustainable tomorrow.

    You can analyse and break down the Greens’ couple of pages on Israel in as much detail as you like; but when it comes down to it, it wouldn’t even matter if they did support BDS. It wouldn’t even matter if they thought the entire Middle East should dissolve into a socialist block without states or borders or nationalities. Israel never has been, and never will be, an area on which the Greens will waste political ammunition – and quite frankly, it would be arrogant of us to ever assume that it is.

    (and even if it were a priority of the Greens, Australia’s policy on Israel is hugely insignificant. So we abstained in the UNGA vote on Palestinian recognition. What would have happened if we had voted yes? What would have happened if we had voted no? How different would the world look?)

  • Yaron says:

    The people interested in voting for the Greens seem to be going out of their way to justify their positions. So far we have heard:

    1. Yes there are some who are pro-BDS and anti-Israel, but this is the loony fringe of the party.

    2. Yes there are a lot of people who are anti-Israel in the party but Israel is not a central policy platform, and they will not actively try to force their agenda on the government.

    3. Australia is not a significant voice in the international community, so even if the Greens do have sway over government policy it will make little difference in the long run.

    4. The candidate I am voting for is against the BDS.

    5. They are a bit anti-Israel but their official policy is not.

    It is time to drop the pretenses and proclaim the Greens as anti-Israel. The question that remains is will these policies directly damage Israel’s existence, and thus become a justifiable reason not to vote for them.

    For the record I have no intention of voting for the Greens, but that is for reasons other then their Israel policy.

  • George Fink says:

    Dny…You assert “Israel never has been, and never will be, an area on which the Greens will waste political ammunition”

    Your assertion seems flawed because during the last 5 years the Greens appear have spent an awful lot of ammunition on unilaterally denigrating Israel and energetically promoting BDS of Israel. Much of the BDS seems to have focused on Brenner’s chocolate shops. My point is supported by one or two Hansard posts above that show that the Greens BDS of Israel and Brenners in particular has been the subject of energetic discussion in the Fed Parliament. [NB The focus on Brenner’s is derisible since most or all Brenner shops in Australia have been Australian owned since 2000!] Note that I have not used your term “waste” because given my extensive and unhappy experience of anti-Semitism in Australia, your focus on denigrating Israel and the BDS activity will likely have significantly increased Greens’ membership.

    Your selective denigration of Israel in your international policy document stands out in sharp relief relative to the absence of any mention of Syria, where more than 100,000 people have perished, or Iraq, where about 1 million people died in large part courtesy of the “Coalition of the Willing” of which Australia was and remains (in Afghanistan) a prominent member.

    That said, your statement that it “wouldn’t even matter if they thought the entire Middle East should dissolve into a socialist block without states or borders or nationalities” makes an irresistible case. Let’s for fun go further and imagine if Hitler had succeeded in completing his “Final Solution”, eh, that’s the spirit! All that would remain of us lousy Jews is perhaps one Torah scroll in the Prague museum which Hitler had earmarked and safeguarded for this purpose. Just imagine, a Jew-free Middle East, nay a Jew-free world! Would that not please Senator Rhiannon? So Dny, my friend,on polling day I shall carefully consider your wise suggestion; viz “What it really comes down to is, are you going to vote based on principle or pragmatism” (“to be, or not to be”?, that’s the question ain’t it, eh?)

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Dny – there are Greens players who are avowedly and disproportionately anti Israel, and we can only speculate as to why that is the case. I don’t buy Larry Stillman’s analysis: “Now, why are there some Greens who hold strong views? Because it is a divisive and polarized issue, that is why, and continuing occupation and brutality only continue to wedge productive activity. People go for the underdog on the left.”

    To me that’s an observation not an explanation, and describes group think and an unwillingness to engage critically with the complexity of the issue. It’s only partly about going for the underdog.

    So I believe that their participation in public life is a moral hazard. As is the participation in electoral politics of people who hold Islamophobic, misogynist and racist views. Of course it matters what politicians think.

    A separate question is whether I would vote for a Greens candidate whose views I respect on the basis of other important platforms of the party which could make a difference in Australia, notwithstanding the extreme anti Zionist views elsewhere in the party.

  • Frank says:

    Yaron,

    They are anti-‘the government of Israel’. That is exactly what people voting Greens are saying if you actually read their comments. And why shouldn’t they be? It doesn’t take much.. all one has to do is to look at the values of Zionism and then look at current Israel. All I am saying is that because Israel is not just a country – but an idea – I think Zionists have a higher expectation of their nation – to make it “a light among the nations”.

    I am not saying this is a rational way of thinking but neither is loving a country no matter what it does.

    Anyhow, you forgot another reasons:
    – A party that appeals to the scientific community (empirical evidence)
    – A party with grass-root values enrooted in their entire psyche
    – A party that will NOT have the same policies that rejected our parents and grandparents from post-WW2 / the Shoah when they were refugees. Haven’t we learnt anything from our own history? If we have, we certainly should be for the Green’s policy on refugees (or let alone against Rudd/Abbot’s policies).

  • dny says:

    George Fink –

    I think you’re talking about the State Greens in NSW re: Max Brenner. Please find me an example of a Federal Greens MP (other than Rhiannon) who supported those protests. You can’t blame the Federal Greens Party for what one dissenting MP did, especially when it isn’t reflected in their policy.

    Is it possible that there is a longer policy paper on Israel since it is a more complex issue, and since Australia has more of a stake in it? Australia isn’t currently supporting the Assad regime. A 5-page policy paper condemning it wouldn’t contradict the stance that already exists.

    Finally, I think you misunderstood my analogy. I was saying that the Greens’ foreign policy platform is inconsequential, since it won’t be prioritised. It’s also true that the Australian foreign policy platform is inconsequential, since we’re basically powerless in the international arena. I wasn’t suggesting that the Middle East become a socialist block…

    Mandi Katz –

    Again, I think it’s about priorities. If you won’t vote for a Party because there are members who have said compromising things about the J-comm, or about Israel, then you aren’t left with anyone. The Greens has Lee Rhiannon. Labor has elements of Labor left, such as Cameron and Plibersek. The Liberals have Julie Bishop, who tried to politicise Mark Dreyfus’ Jewishness. So then we’re left with nothing.

    On the other hand, you could look at it from the perspective what your vote will actually achieve. Labor and Liberal will bring us more of the same policies intended to appeal to those living in Western Sydney and marginal outer-suburban electorates, ignoring those of us in “safe electorates” who have other concerns. The Greens will support action in areas that really matter, as were referred to in the article.

  • ROb K says:

    Hi All,
    This is a really interesting debate. Let me put my biases out there..
    I am Jewish – formally involved in leftist Zionism as a youth. I lived in Israel on a Kibbutz. In Australia, I normally vote Labor and have voted Green in the past. At the moment I am struggling with who to vote for as
    1) I find that both political parties approach to refugees as abhorrent. As a child of a refugee I can’t believe that sending these people to PNG is an answer. I also find the fact that both major parties believe they will solve this problem as ludicrous. I like the green policy on refugees. BUT
    2) I am a firm supporter of Israel’s right to exist. I think her security is often the balance and the treatment by the media and the far left is often racist. The Greens BDS links (it is irrelevant to me if policy or not) is extremely problematic as is the whole concept.
    I have never usually looked at supporting a party based on their approach to Israel and Middle East. In truth both major parties have and will support Israel as long as us Jews have such economic and influence. Lets not kids ourselves! However – Australia is about to take over as chair of the Un security council and I think there is an extra level of influence that we can potentially effect.

    So who to vote for? Or which way to send preferences? It looks like Labor will get my vote. Just.
    As a firm believer in democracy I feel this vote is done with a sense of dismay as to the crap level of debate. I pray for a the best people in the country to get into politics not the most power hungry.
    Rob

  • George Fink says:

    Dny…

    Re your “I was saying that the Greens’ foreign policy platform is inconsequential, since it won’t be prioritised”: If it won’t be prioritised and is inconsequential why include it in a manifesto? It’s the old school 101 exam advice…”errors of omission never fail, but errors of commission do”

    Re Rhiannon…One passionate and energetic politician can override the views of hundreds of intelligent but less assertive colleagues. I suspect that Rhiannon and her brown shirt look-alike activists gave the Greens as much and possibly more air-time than did Bob Brown. We can all think of examples of one person making a huge difference…e.g. McCarthy in the States and a little Austrian corporal and failed painter who triggered and lead the Third Reich. Let me hasten to say that I am not yet comparing Lee Rhiannon with Adolf …simply an illustration.

    I am grateful for your comments…and am still mulling over the Greens vs Labor vs something as seemingly ridiculous but possibly not dangerous like the Australian Sex Party.

    Incidentally, the Israel issue is not my main concern re the Greens…it is what I perceive, probably mistakenly, as insufficient drive, passion and vision coupled with my personal despondency based on the lack of will of Australia and more importantly the USA, China, EU, India etc to implement the urgent (immediate) and drastic measures required to moderate, let alone halt, climate change. If Julia Gillard failed with the trivial carbon tax…what can the Greens do? I have just watched prospective Greens senator Rice’s video…it’s a pathetic jumble of cliches defocused on same sex marriage coupled with friendly motherhood stuff coupled with truck fume emissions…when are the Greens going to focus, focus and focus and think big? Re migrants, and the need for a sustainable critical population mass in Australia, the Greens have so far not adopted the visionary proposals made by Richard Pratt in his 2005 Australia day oration. I understand that the on-shore processing of asylum seekers is capped at 30k…in my view too limited? But in these respects the Greens are still far ahead of the ALP (and of course the unmentionable LNP), and as far as I am concerned do not carry the burden of having killed Australia’s first, and in my view excellent PM.

  • George Fink says:

    Dny: Correction: last line should have read “do not carry the burden of having killed Australia’s first female, and in my view excellent PM.

  • dny says:

    George Fink –

    I think they include policies in areas that they will not prioritise because they hope to move from being a protest party to a major party. They can’t do that without having a policy on all the significant, debated issues (Israel/Palestine being one of them). If there only policy was on climate change, no one would take them seriously when they say that they want to become a major party.

    Since in 2013, a Green vote will, at the most, lend them the balance of power rather than the full power, we know that the Greens will use their limited power to lobby for the environment, human rights, animal rights, social equality etc., not foreign policy decisions.

    Looking to the future, it’s likely that a) Labor will have to change it’s approach to win the Greens votes back or b) the Greens will moderate some of their more controversial policies in order to attract a larger support base. I don’t believe that the Greens movement will fade without another party adopting its rigorous environmental approach, since this is the climate change century.

    I agree completely that the Greens need to rebrand :)

  • dny says:

    their*** not there

  • Yaron says:

    Rob K,

    Something else to take into account when voting:

    For each first preference vote a party gets over the 4% threshold they get about $2.50 from the AEC.

    If you are unsure about the political environment but want to vote for one of the large parties, you can put them second preference so they do not get the money from your vote.

  • Gedalia says:

    Here is some footage of Senator Scott Ludlum (WA) speaking at an anti-Israel rally in Perth

  • Of course we want to vote for them – and of course not all Jews think our loyalty lies with Israel over our own home community. But have a look at the 2010 policy – it seems naively one sided to me – and therefore calls into serious question The Greens ability to balance any policy fairly! It’s obviously all Israel’s fault. I can find no mention of Palestinian terror or attrocities, nor any suggestion that Israelis shoudl be able to live in Palestine as Palestinians can and do live in Israel!

    http://greens.org.au/sites/greens.org.au/files/Israel_Palestine_1.pdf

    1.3 recognise the ongoing injustice that has been done to the Palestinian people and aim to rectify
    that injustice in a way that will allow both Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace
    1.4 oppose Israel’s ongoing occupation of the Palestinian territories and the expropriation of
    Palestinian land and resources for its settlements…

    Goals
    The Australian Greens will work for:
    2.1 the removal of Israeli settlers and Israeli security and military forces from the Palestinian
    territories
    2.2 the termination of the occupation of the Palestinian territories and the establishment of a secure
    and viable state of Palestine alongside Israel, based on 4 June 1967 boundaries with both states
    sharing Jerusalem as their capital…

    This has been raised many times. It is still their policy.

  • George Fink says:

    Jonathan…I agree…as much as I wish to vote for the Greens, with Lee Rhiannon (lead anti-Israel activist) as senior senator until 2017 one could be giving hostage to fortune

  • Frank says:

    Jonathan Keren-Black,

    maybe you weren’t looking hard enough… does this answer your worries?

    Jonathan – “I can find no mention of Palestinian terror or attrocities, nor any suggestion that Israelis shoudl be able to live in Palestine as Palestinians can and do live in Israel!”

    GREENS:
    1.2 support the legitimate rights and aspirations of the Israeli people to live in peace and security in their own independent, sovereign state
    3.2 As preliminary steps to the achievement of the goals, the Australian Greens call for:
    ● the immediate end to all acts of violence against civilian populations, including state targeted assassinations and suicide bombings

  • Gedalia says:

    Frank

    “State Targeted Assassinations” is about Israel removing the threat of terrorists whilst attempting to avoid civilian casualty.

    “Suicide bombings” are about terrorists attempting to maximise civilian casualty.

    If you cannot see the moral distinction then I’m afraid you are blinded. Just like the grotesque moral equivalency that is inherent in the Greens policy.

  • Yirmi says:

    Editor: this puerile comment adds nothing to the discussion. Repeat posting is also not allowed. Any further infractions of our comments policy will result in suspension of your account.

  • George Fink says:

    ” ? A Bridge to far” Can the Greens be trusted re anti-Semitism or anti-Zionism (or even Holocaust denial)?

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/state-politics/split-in-greens-over-holocaust-denier/story-e6frgczx-1226667123665

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