In the latest act of rank hypocrisy from Labor, this weekend the NSW and Queensland branches of the Labor Party will consider motions to formally recognise ‘Palestine’ over Israel. This motion comes hot on the heels of a similar motion passed by the Tasmanian Labor Party.
I recently returned from a trip to Israel. While I’ve always been a strong supporter of Israel, there is a vast difference between reading about and watching thing from afar to seeing and meeting people on the ground whose daily lives are impacted and for me, I found that inspiring and transformative.
Take, for example, the township of Sderot, just a kilometre from the Gaza strip – a town which on the face of it appears not unlike many regional Australian towns. The difference is that this town has been battered over the years with literally thousands of rockets coming across from the Gaza Strip with locals getting just 7-13 seconds warning to get into a shelter. We were told that one of the first lessons for a child is to run as fast as possible when a siren sounds and that the majority of children under 13 suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. While the rockets have largely stopped, a new threat has emerged – that of tunnelling under the wall in an effort to kidnap soldiers and local residents. What struck me most was just how crazy this situation is, yet the people that live there discuss it with a sense of normality. To that end, I found their resolve not to be hounded out of their houses by terrorists as inspiring.
The reason for sharing this is because this reign of terror over an extended period came about because Israel, under much global pressure, gave the Palestinians what they asked for. You see, all the Palestinians have ever asked for is for a territory to manage for themselves and in 2005, Israel granted just that by withdrawing from the Gaza Strip. While many expected that the Palestinians would turn the area into a model territory showing just how free and democratic an Arab territory could be, indeed to be ‘the Singapore of the Middle East’, just two years later Hamas won control of the Gaza Strip and since has reigned terror on Israel.
Instead of using power, water, metal, cement and other supplies provided by Israel and the world community to build a bustling metropolis, Hamas used those materials to develop rockets, build tunnels and to oppress Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. Indeed, in many ways, the Gaza Strip has become much like the other 22 Arab states in the region – overrun by terrorism, negative attitudes towards women, homosexuality and enforced poverty to ensure state-funded terror continues.
Advocates in the Labor Party who endorse this shifted focus will tell you that Hamas are extremists and that the Palestinian Authority are moderate. And in fairness, in comparative terms, that’s true. The problem I have is that the Palestinian President (elected in 2005 – now in his twelfth year of his four year term) is concerned about going to elections for fear Hamas may win – meaning the same terror tactics we’ve seen in the Gaza Strip could be deployed in the West Bank and if the President of the Palestinian Authority doesn’t trust Palestinians with democracy then why should we?
The simple fact is this: there are 22 Arab states in the Middle East. What’s to say that a twenty-third will be any different to the 22 other women hating, gay killing, economic basket cases that are overrun by terror groups?
On the other hand, Israel shares our world view as the only free and democratic nation in the region that also happens to have an abiding respect for women and homosexuality, seeks to stamp out terrorism and is able to stand on its own two feet unlike many of its neighbours. I would argue our shared values, bound in the Judaeo Christian ethic, stand us in good stead to be close friends and allies.
For the modern Labor Party to consider at the very same conference motions on empowering women and gay rights while calling for another Arab state to actively oppress them is not just hypocrisy, it’s lunacy.
Support for Israel in current circumstances should be a no-brainer and unquestionable. The fact it’s not is cause for concern and demonstrates how unfit for government the Labor Party has become.
Josh Manuatu is the Federal Vice President and Policy Chairman of the Young Liberal Movement of Australia.
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