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Melissa Parke, MP Presents BDS Petition to the Australian Federal Parliament

On the 23rd September, 2014, politics lecturer Dr Marcelo Svirsky from the University of Woollongong set off on foot for Canberra to bring a petition for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel 287 kilometres from concerned Australian citizens to the attention of Parliament.

Federal Member for Fremantle, Melissa Parke took a principled position and broke from the mainstream ALP to present and support the petition in the House of Representatives on the 27th October.

“There comes a time when injustices have so mounted up that plain speaking becomes a duty …”

Parke counters the ubiquitous Israeli hasbara which wrongfully invokes antisemitism against BDS and its advocates.

“It is not antisemitic to protest injustice.”

She concludes by commending Dr. Svirsky for his courageous walk and brave stand.

TRANSCRIPT OF MP MELISSA PARKE’S FULL SPEECH:

Petition: Middle East
Ms PARKE (Fremantle) (21:00):
‘What I am to say today will likely not be popular in this place or indeed in the wider community. However, there comes a time when the injustices have so mounted up that plain speaking becomes a duty. This year is the UN International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. However, despite overwhelming support within the international community for a Palestinian state and for an end to the Israeli occupation and settlement building, as well as the blockade of Gaza, there has not been any positive change for Palestinians on the ground. Rather, recent events have left more than 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza dead and thousands more injured, while more than a million Palestinians—who are a proud, educated and enterprising people—are dependent on food aid and there is a massive damage bill to be picked up again by the international community. Meanwhile settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem continues apace, each build putting a further nail in the coffin of the two-state solution.

We know that violence is not the solution. We affirm that the rockets fired from Gaza into Israel are an illegal response to Israel’s actions. But it does beg the question: what then is the alternative to the vicious cycle of bloodshed we have witnessed in recent months? What is a legal and justified response to actions by Israel that the international community agrees are illegal? In my view, non-violent means of protest are and must be seen as legitimate. It is notable that both Israel and the US approve of boycotts and sanctions against other states such as Iran and Brunei, so why is it objectionable to boycott a state that is, among other things, committing repeated, grave violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention as Israel does with its illegal settlements?
I now present a petition delivered to me by University of Wollongong academic and former Israel soldier, Dr Marcelo Svirsky, following his completion of a 10-day walk over 300 kilometres from Sydney to Canberra to draw the attention of the House to the plight of the Palestinian people and requesting the government to honour its obligations under international law.

The petition read as follows—
To the Honourable The Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives
This petition of citizens and residents of Australia draws to the attention of the House the critical predicament of the Palestinian People in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza under Israeli occupation since 1967 and of the Palestinian citizens of Israel suffering racial discrimination since 1948.
Notwithstanding UN resolutions condemning Israel’s policies as illegal, Israel continues violating international law and human rights, expanding its colonies in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, imposing a siege on Gaza, and persisting in apartheid and oppressive actions, policies and legislation towards the Palestinian people under its control.
As a response to the failure of all forms of diplomacy to change Israel’s policies, in 2005 the Palestinian Civil Society called upon the world to impose on Israel initiatives of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) until Israel meets its obligation to end all forms of occupation; dismantles the illegal ‘Separation Wall’ in the West Bank; ceases the siege on Gaza; implements full equality for its Palestinian citizens; and honours the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties.
WE THEREFORE ASK THE HOUSE to instruct the Australian Government to fully and consistently honour its obligations under international law by excluding relations, through boycott, divestment and sanctions, with states, institutions and companies – Australian, Israeli or other – that are involved in the perpetuation of apartheid and discriminatory Israeli policies including the occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.
from 701 citizens.
Petition received.

Ms PARKE: The petition asks the government to exclude relations through boycott, divestment and sanctions with states, institutions and companies that are involved in the perpetuation of discriminatory Israeli policies, including the occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

The BDS campaign has received an enormous amount of negative press in Australia, much of which is undeserved. I am not seeking to validate all of the actions that have occurred in the name of BDS, because it can mean different things to different people. However, I do wish to dispel some of the misunderstandings around the official BDS campaign, including that its supporters are anti-Semitic and intent on the destruction of Israel. That is not the case; it is not anti-Semitic to protest injustice. And as noted by Peter Slezak writing in New Matilda:
… BDS is directed against many non-Jewish, non-Israeli companies such as Veolia, G4S and Caterpillar, which are profiting from the illegal occupation of Palestinian land.

The US organisation Jewish Voice for Peace has observed that ‘BDS is a viable democratic and non-violent response to the horrific policies of the state of Israel against Palestinians’.
Richard Falk, Professor of International Law at Princeton and a former UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Territories, has said that the ‘BDS movement provides a hopeful way of writing the future history of Palestine in the legal and moral language of rights, rather than the bloody deeds of warfare’. Nobel Peace Prize and Sydney Peace Prize recipient Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said:
If we had not struggled so hard in the anti apartheid movement, Nelson Mandela would have died in jail. The Boycott Divestment Sanctions Movement is as important as the anti apartheid struggle. I urge you all to support it.

In July this year 17 European Union countries warned their citizens against engagement in business deals or investing in the illegal Israeli settlements or with bodies connected to them in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The European warnings described the settlements as ‘illegal under international law’, warning that ‘individuals or companies who engage in any economic deals with them could face legal and financial risks and harm their image’.

As said by Philip Gordon, the White House coordinator for the Middle East, in early July:
How will [Israel] have peace if it is unwilling to delineate a border, end the occupations and allow for Palestinian sovereignty, security, and dignity?
… it cannot maintain military control of another people indefinitely. Doing so is not only wrong but a recipe for resentment and recurring instability.

As I have said on other occasions, the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinians is a source of distress and frustration for millions of people around the world, especially people from Muslim and Arab countries, and it is a powerful recruitment tool for extremist groups. If we are genuinely concerned about national and global security as well as international justice, we, along with other nations, including the US, should be insisting that Israel do its part to lay the groundwork for peace by, among other things, ending its illegal occupation, settlement construction and the Gaza blockade. Until this happens, BDS is a perfectly acceptable form of protest and I congratulate Dr Marcelo Svirsky for his courageous walk and his brave stand.’

International Cultural Venues Encouraged To Boycott Israeli Government Funding

Israel persists in using international cultural events to rebrand itself, to obscure its apartheid, colonialism, genocide and war crimes. For Israel’s regime, all culture is propaganda and film festivals have been singled out as special targets for rebranding opportunities. Following efforts to persuade London’s Tricycle Theatre to refuse to accept Israeli government sponsorship, more initiatives have evolved.

On November 6, 2014, a protest against BFI Southbank for hosting the opening gala of Israeli-funded UKJFF festival will be held. Hosted by BDS group “No Israel Funding for the Arts“, the protest will commence at 18:45 at the BFI. Protest organisers emphasise:

Disgracefully, the BFI Southbank is helping to re-brand Israel by hosting the opening gala night of the festival.

Secretary of State for Culture, Sajid Javid – who slandered the Tricycle by falsely implying it was antisemitic – said he would attend.

Other contemporary boycott actions also pinpoint and object to Israel’s culture-washing at major international film festival events. BDSAustria has written an open letter against Israeli Embassy funding of the Vienna Jewish Film Festival 2014, and now there is a Belgian campaign to persuade the sponsors of the Brussels Jewish Film Festival to boycott Israeli government funding. Both letters are reproduced in full below.

BDSAustria Letter

Österreichische Gesellschaft zur Erhaltung
und Förderung der jüdischen Kultur und Tradition
Penzinger Straße 35/6/21
1140 Wien

Vienna, October 3rd, 2014


Open letter

Subject: Support of the Vienna Jewish Film Festival 2014 by the Israeli Embassy

Dear Organizers,

On the website of the Vienna Jewish Film Festival the emblem of the State of Israel appears in the category of the festival’s “partners and supporters”. We consider this to be particularly problematic for the following reasons.

For decades the State of Israel has violated international law through an inhuman and deadly policy of colonization and expulsion of the indigenous Palestinian population and occupation of their land. As recently as this summer more than two thousand civilians were killed in an assault on the Gaza strip by the Israeli army. In the course of this assault, Gaza’s infrastructure, which had already been damaged by routine Israeli assaults, was so severely crippled that a humanitarian catastrophe ofan unprecedented scale continues to unfold in Gaza to this day.

In 2005 the Israeli Foreign Ministry, the Finance Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office launched the so-called “Brand Israel” campaign. Its explicit goal is to change way Israel is perceived in Europe and the United States, replacing associations with war, military and religion with the positive image of a modern and liberal state. [1]

Israel’s support of Jewish cultural events plays an essential role in the “Brand Israel” campaign by depoliticizing and normalizing the state’s ongoing aggressive and racist policies. We consider this use of Jewish culture to further a public relations campaign to be exploitative of Jewish culture rather than genuinely supportive thereof, which strikes us as particularly ironic. For years Jewish organizations and individuals worldwide who are critical of Israel have been protesting against this equation of Judaism, Jewishness and Jewish art and culture with the State of Israel. [2]

In light of this we ask you as the organizers of the Vienna Jewish Film Festival to comment on the concerns raised by us as well as to inform us about the kind of support the festival receives from the Israeli Embassy. If you neglect to do so we have to assume that you at least silently tolerate the State of Israel’s public relations campaign and we will therefore, following the international BDS guidelines for Cultural Boycott [3], call for a boycott of the festival.

Sincerely,

the activists of BDSAustria

www.bds-info.at // BDS Austria

[1] See http://forward.com/articles/2070/israel-aims-to-improve-its-public-image/.

[2] See for example the various branches of “European Jews for a Just Peace” http://ejjp.eu/.

[3] See http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1047.

Belgian Letter to the Sponsors of the Brussels Jewish Film Festival

Bonjour,

Vous avez peut-être été informé de la tenue prochaine du “Brussels Jewish Film Festival” et peut-être, comme de nombreux organismes et personnes sympathisants de la défense des Droits de l’Homme et la cause du peuple palestinien, avez-vous envisagé d’y assister, voire d’apporter votre collaboration.

Permettez-moi de vous mettre en garde contre cette manifestation.
Comme vous pourrez le constater plus loin, sous une présentation séduisante, ce festival est en réalité une opération de propagande qui a déjà piégé de nombreux citoyens, militant pour une paix juste et opposés au régime sioniste de Mr Netanyahu.
Croyez bien que c’est une têche extrêmement désagréable pour moi d’avertir des amis dont certains ont déjà, sans doute en toute bonne foi, apporté leur soutien ou annoncé leur participation à un événement qui fait partie d’une campagne orchestrée dans divers pays européens.
C’est ainsi que début octobre, des citoyens français ont mené une action contre un festival de ce type qui se déroulait à Carpentras (infos et video sur, notamment, www.ism-france.org)

Comme vous pourrez le constater à la lecture du programme, (dossier de presse et affiche de l’extension à Liège ci-joints) ce festival, qui se prétend centré sur “les relations et les liens qui se sont tissés entre juifs, musulmans, druzes, israéliens et palestiniens”, est en réalité élaboré dans la droite ligne de la politique de propagande actuelle de gouvernement israélien qui vise à :

• Montrer une image positive du régime en occultant complètement la réalité du terrain (massacres de Gaza, colonisation, lois d’apartheid, assassinats journaliers, etc.)
• Réaliser des films qui jouent sur l’émotionnel, montrant un Israélien altruiste et de haute moralité ouvrant les bras à son “frère” palestinien”.
• Créer des personnages de Palestiniens rejetant la lutte (toujours appelée terrorisme) pour la collaboration avec ses généreux et pacifiques amis.

Qu’on en juge!

Résumé du Programme (infos complètes dans le dossier de presse)

Fictions

• “Arabani” raconte les avatars d’un Druze qui avait épousé une Juive, retournant dans son village et se heurtant à une communauté druze hostile.
• “Bethléem” est un thriller : un jeune Palestinien qui se veut fidèle au Shin Bet est confronté aux activités terroristes de son frère.
• ”Boreg” (“Selfmade”) relate, sur le mode de la comédie, l’histoire de 2 femmes, l’une israélienne et l’autre palestinienne, se retrouvant à vivre la vie de l’autre à la suite d’une confusion à un check-point… On devine laquelle est la mieux lotie
• “Sous le même soleil” raconte la lutte solidaire de deux hommes d’affaires (Israélien et Palestinien) voulant créer une entreprise de panneaux photovoltaïques
• ”Strangers” est l’histoire des amours contrariés d’une Palestinienne et d’un soldat israélien
• “Kidon” relate l’enquête du Mossad sur un assassinat dont il est accusé… Et innocent, bien entendu

Documentaires

• ”Abie Nathan, la voix de la paix” retrace le parcours du fondateur de la radio libre “La Voix de la Paix” qui émettait d’un cargo en face de Tel Aviv.
• “Dancing in Jaffa” est le portrait d’un professeur de danse qui a comme projet de faire se rencontrer et danser ensemble enfants israélien et israélo/palestiniens de Jaffa… Les enfants de Gaza ne sont pas invités?
• “Frères de Coeur” La belle histoire d’un “arabe” d’Israël vivant grêce au coeur d’un soldat “juif” tué par les Palestiniens
• “Juifs et Musulmans, si loin, si proches” retrace les 1400 années de relation entre Juifs et Musulmans… du point de vue sioniste, évidemment.
• “Le Prince Vert” est le portrait d’un des fils d’un chef du Hamas, de ses dix années de collaboration avec le Shin Bet et de sa conversion au christianisme.
• “Life Sentences” retrace les tribulations d’une mère juive, mariée à un arabe qui se révèle être un “terroriste”, racontées par son fils.
• “Life as rumor”est un film autobiographique du fils du général Dayan, présenté comme le “Kennedy israélien”

Sans équivoque, non?

J’ajouterai que les organisateurs de la manifestation avancent “masqués” dans la mesure où ils ne disent rien de leur accointance avec des associations sionistes de droite extrême ni des soutiens financiers d’Israël.
Il est pourtant évident, pour tout professionnel de l’audiovisuel, que ce festival est surdimentionné par rapport au public potentiel et que le budget doit être assez important quand on voit le nombre d’invités étrangers, venant notamment d’Israël et des USA.

Le nombre d’organismes cités comme “partenaires” est, interpellant… Et un peu attristant pour un démocrate.
Sont-ils solidaires de cette entreprise de propagande?
Ont-ils cru que la manifestation apportait du positif pour le respect des lois internationales ou qu’elle allait dans le sens d’une justice pour les Palestiniens?
Ont-ils été piégés par le marketing spécieux des organisateurs?….
Quelles que soient les réponses, il m’apparaît qu’un citoyen solidaire des droits humains ne peut que s’opposer à cette manifestation indigne!

Bien cordialement

Rudi Barnet

UPDATE 24/10/14

Union of Progressive Jews of Belgium disconnects from the Brussels Film Festival, protesting Israel’s sponsorship

L’UPJB ne participera pas au Brussels Jewish Film Festival

C’est avec étonnement que l’Union des Progressistes Juifs de Belgique (UPJB) a vu son nom associé à ceux des Ambassades israélienne et états-unienne dans le cadre du festival de cinéma « Sous un même soleil » organisé par l’Institut pour la Mémoire Audiovisuelle Juive (IMAJ).

IMAJ avait pris l’initiative de nous contacter pour une participation à ce festival, dont l’objet est de faire connaître des productions cinématographiques qui mettent en valeur les relations entre les peuples qui vivent sur la terre d’Israël/Palestine. Nous en avions accepté le principe. En aucune façon IMAJ ne nous avait annoncé l’implication d’ambassades.

Or l’UPJB adhère à l’appel international de Boycott, Désinvestissement et Sanctions (BDS) qui vise, comme par le passé vis-à-vis du régime d’apartheid sud-africain, à exercer une pression pacifique sur Israël pour le contraindre à appliquer le Droit International. Cela ne nous empêche pas d’organiser régulièrement, comme nous l’avons toujours fait, des activités publiques avec des artistes, intellectuels et militants israéliens qui nous intéressent, par exemple parce qu’ils critiquent la politique de leur gouvernement : le boycott s’applique, selon nous, non pas aux groupes et individus en vertu de la nationalité israélienne, mais à la politique d’occupation du gouvernement israélien et tout ce qu’elle implique (massacre de la population civile de Gaza, blocus de Gaza, colonisation de la Cisjordanie et de Jérusalem Est, répression politique, …).

Nous avons découvert après-coup le patronage de l’Ambassade d’Israël au festival “Sous un même soleil” et l’absence dans ce cadre de l’Ambassade de Palestine, dont la participation aurait donné une cohérence au thème général de rapprochement entre les peuples vivant sous le soleil d’Eretz Israël / Palestine historique. Nous nous nous sommes sentis pris au piège et avons finalement décidé de nous désolidariser du festival. En aucune manière, nous ne voulons cautionner Israël en tant qu’Etat occupant et colonisateur.

Le CA de l’UPJB, 24 octobre 2014

A Ballad for the Grabbit - Tony Silvertongue

George the Goanna

TONY SILVERTONGUE

Do not denigrate our P M
He leads this fair and precious land
And speaks his mind into the ether
Maybe sometimes he leaves his teeth there!

Do not denigrate or call him names
Like Phoney Tony, Flash or James
For princely ears deserve respect
Yet growing debt is what we get.

Chorus
O Tony who art thou that leads us
Can we trust thy tongue to please us
Can we trust thy silver tongue
Oft times the laird, oft times the merde!

In shiny lycra, dashing knight
Keeping fit in skinny tights
You are our hero of the day
Please make the bad things go away!

Do not denigrate our Prime Minister
Or rhyme Abbott with Grabbit – it’s too sinister
Ruling the unruly mob
He may be the best man for the job …..
Tony Abbott may be God!

Chorus
O Tony who art thou that leads us
Can we trust thy tongue to please us
Can we trust thy silver tongue
Now the journey has begun.

Copyright Gabrielle Shootingstar 2013

Everything Old is New Again

With Abbott’s opportunist, imperialist kowtowing march to war in the Middle East, legislative attacks on civil liberties to “balance” security needs, governmental hate-preaching racism, fear and McCarthyist terror-baiting the garrulous tenor of the day in Australia, Redgum’s classics resonate. Have you ever been a member of “Team Australia”? answer, quick, no obfuscations or context. Aamer . . . → Read More if you dare: Everything Old is New Again

From Archbishop Desmond Tutu to Australian Friends of Palestine

Archbishop Desmond Tutu“Dear Friends of Palestine in Australia The people of the world have been shocked and horrified at the recent brutal and disproportionate assault on the people of Gaza. Over 2000 people have died, hundreds of them children. The infrastructure of Gaza, already greatly damaged in previous similar attacks, is now completely degraded, with . . . → Read More if you dare: From Archbishop Desmond Tutu to Australian Friends of Palestine

Through a Cage Lightly ... Icke is proved wrong

From their burgeoning colonies in the outer solar system, the Zenoids inflicted a complete blockade on Earth. A fleet of these ancient feathered beings had arrived without warning six centuries ago searching for a vulnerable region to establish their arboreal colonies. With their leaders refusing on the grounds of self-defence to set clear borders, the . . . → Read More if you dare: Through a Cage Lightly … Icke is proved wrong

Sonia Montez - Climbing Fences : The Occupation Song

New York-based singer, songwriter and guitarist, Sonia Montez, expressed her support last year for boycott, divestment and sanctions of apartheid Israel. Her new song “Climbing Fences : The Occupation Song” is written in solidarity with the Palestinian people and all folks living under occupation, including in Ferguson, Missouri. Sonia says: “As a musician/activist, the worlds . . . → Read More if you dare: Sonia Montez – Climbing Fences : The Occupation Song

Video: British Jews Against Genocide Protest

Further to the previous written report of the protest held outside the offices of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the video above captures the testimonies of people from British Jews Against Genocide who participated. Here’s selections from some of the powerful speeches at the event: Selma James: “I have to remind people . . . → Read More if you dare: Video: British Jews Against Genocide Protest