Antisemitism in Australia
I have dreamed of seeing peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians my whole life.
It is something that has been passed down from generation to generation in my family. I hold deep sympathy towards the Palestinian people. I want to see peace in my lifetime. And it is absolutely true to be able to say that, in this country, we can have sympathy and empathy for both people. That we have empathy towards the Israelis who were brutally attacked on October 7, and that we must have empathy towards the suffering and the real suffering of innocent Palestinians who are caught up in this terrible conflict.
And the way we talk about it matters. The way we talk about it here in Australia matters. Our language matters. We cannot use this to talk about gaining political points or wedging people. We need to be respectful of each other in Australia. And the debate has disintegrated.
Many things over my political career, I don't find myself that far away from the Greens. But at this moment, I am absolutely in shock about the way in which they have ignored standards within their own party.
Jenny Leong, in December last year said this:
“The Jewish Lobby and the Zionist lobby are infiltrating into every single aspect of what is ethnic community groups, their tentacles reach into the areas that try and influence power. And I think we need to call that out and expose it”.
This is one of the most blatant, racist and bigoted statements by any elected official in Australia. And that's a matter for Ms Leong. The thing that's really hurtful, the thing that really matters, is that, not one Greens MP, state or federal, has called out and publicly rebuked Ms Leong.
They all have remained silent. In a blatant antisemitic statement by one of their colleagues. If that happened in the Labor Party, whether it's direct to the Jewish community, the Islamic community, or any community its unacceptable. And don't take my word from it.
Because at the moment, there are Jewish people who are leaving the Greens.
I want to read a quote from a friend:
“We don't advocate for the repeal of 18C or the Indigenous voice in ethnic forums to influence power. Jews on the left advocate for what we believe in based on values that speak to us from our ancient holy books, which remind us “what is hateful to you, do not do unto others.”
That is a Greens member, who has publicly spoken out about how disillusioned they are with the Greens. And how a party that is meant to be progressive is allowing this to fester within their own circles.
Let me say this from another Greens member who has publicly in the last week come out and spoken out against the Greens. And I'm not going to name this person, because they said it on their own social media.
But they said this:
“I'm disgusted, saddened and hurt. That the party purporting to be the party of anti-racism, in which I've tried to find a place over the past two years is letting this rhetoric infiltrate its highest levels. This isn't about Israel, Palestine. It's Jew hatred, plain and simple. Believe a Jew when he says so. Where's the outrage from my Greens colleagues? I find the silence deafeningly isolating. “
You know, this conflict in the Middle East is absolutely shattered, it’s shattering. I want to see an end to it as soon as humanly possible. I want to see an end to innocent lives lost. I want to see an ability for Palestinians to be able to rebuild their lives in Gaza. I also want to see an ability for Israelis to be able to return to their homes in the southern and northern towns, there is a real terrorist threat that they have faced that we saw on October 7. It is a complicated deep history, one that we must be mindful of and respectful of when we're talking about this issue.
But the way we talk about this in Australia really matters.
And to have blatant racism and targeting of a minority community, from a major political organisation in this country is just shattering. And I would say to the Greens, be mindful of the way in which you are talking about this issue. Be mindful of the way in which it is impacting a minority people in this country, because that is something that we can control. That we have an ability to make sure Australians feel safe and respected. And right now, Jewish people in Australia don't feel safe and respected by the Greens. I think it's a great shame. I pray for more peaceful days ahead.
12 February 2024