The Australian Greens have consolidated a reputation as one of the most antisemitic political parties in the world’s Western democracies. They deserve to be shunned by all reasonable people.
On 16 November, the Greens issued a mind-boggling statement on antisemitism rejecting the most widely adopted and credible definition of antisemitism, that of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). Indeed, the opening paragraph of the Greens’ statement expresses concern that the Australian government would move to adopt this definition as announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on 14 October.
The IHRA definition is the culmination of work by a large group of Holocaust and antisemitism experts. It is not legally binding and it includes contemporary examples for education and guidance purposes. It specifically addresses how Israel as the world’s only Jewish state fits into the antisemitic landscape. It is not antisemitic to criticise Israel or the Israeli government in a similar manner to criticism of any other country. But applying double standards of requiring behaviour of Israel unlike requirements of others, denying Jews the right to national self-determination or holding Jews collectively responsible for the actions of the Israeli government or military, crosses the line. Perhaps the Greens would fall foul.
The Greens failed to mention the IHRA definition had been adopted by over 30 countries including the UK and US, along with the European Union, the UN Secretary-General, numerous NGOs, political parties, and universities. They did mention that the US adoption was under President Trump – perhaps thinking that provides invalidation – but also failed to mention this Trump initiative has been maintained by the Biden-Harris administration.
The vote of the UK Parliament well illustrates the extremism of the Australian Greens on antisemitism. A total of 641 of 643 MPs who sit in the Commons approved the IHRA definition of antisemitism in what has been called the ‘largest collective parliamentary support for any non-parliamentary document in modern times’. Only the seven Sinn Fein MPs who abstain from taking their seats and two Labour MPs did not support the IHRA adoption.
In Australia, not only has the PM pledged the government would do so, but both opposition leader Anthony Albanese and shadow Foreign Minister Senator Penny Wong, have announced support.This puts the Greens on the extreme of the extreme of political voices when it comes to antisemitism and formalises a long and disgraceful track record of both anti-Israel bias and antisemitism.
In July, just weeks after Israel undertook a defensive operation consequent to over 4,000 rockets fired towards Israeli civilians by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, former high-profile Greens candidate Julian Burnside QC tweeted Israel’s ‘treatment of Palestinians looks horribly like the German treatment of the Jews during the Holocaust’. The appalling tweet was later deleted.
When the Senate in December last year considered a motion to recognise the 25th anniversary of the assassination of former Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin, widely lauded for his peace efforts, Greens Senator Janet Rice couldn’t contain herself and launched a political attack on Israel. Rice later conceded, ‘my timing was clumsy’ but offered no apology or retraction. Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi had the audacity to conclude a speech in the Australian Senate with the protest slogan ‘from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’. Make no mistake, this slogan which refers to all land between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea, is used as a call for the entire elimination of Israel, the end of Jewish self-determination and possible genocide.
Greens leader Adam Bandt has repeatedly attacked Israel in speeches, including one on water allocation between Israel and Jordan which was replete with bias and inaccuracies. But worse, in 2018 in the context of tax policy he posted an image on Facebook featuring a hook-nosed caricature of a Jewish banker similar to images notoriously published in Nazi-sympathiser newspaper Der Stürmer during the Holocaust.
Greens also have a record of boycotting Jewish events. Former Greens candidate for Melbourne Ports, Stephanie Hodgins-May, pulled out of a forum hosted by the Australian Jewish News because Zionism Victoria was one of the co-hosts. She did however present to a Palestinian lobby group. The NSW Young Greens have boycotted a NSW political forum hosted by the Australian Union of Jewish Students.
Disgracefully, there are some fringe leftist Jewish groups who have voiced objection to the IHRA definition. There are also a few Jews active in the Greens party. Cr David Zyngier is a Jewish Greens representative on Glen Eira City Council who in response to a social media post concerning the graduation of female Israeli air force pilots tweeted ‘Does it really matter who drops the bombs or fires the missiles indiscriminately killing both terrorists and kids?’ While not suggesting Zyngier is necessarily antisemitic (although Jewish antisemitism does exist) the allegation of indiscriminate killing, particularly of children, is the sort of historical blood libel used by antisemites.
In order for the Greens to take such an unbalanced anti-Israel and occasionally antisemitic stand, in breach of the IHRA definition, requires an abandonment of traditional values of leftist Green parties both environmental and human rights. Israel is possibly the only country which in the 20th century significantly increased its arable area while Hamas and other Arab Palestinian groups light fires burning thousands of car and truck tyres as well as thousands of hectares of farmland and nature reserves as environmental terrorism. Israel recycles more domestic water than any other country and is a leader in renewable energy. Try to find anyone in the Greens praising Israel’s environmental record or condemning environmental abuse by Hamas.
Similarly, Israel is the only country in the region where LGBTQI+ people are safe, advanced women’s rights exist in politics, business and the professions, and people of different religions and races have equal civil rights. Yet all these values are overlooked by the extremist Greens.
When it comes to Israel and antisemitism, the Australian Greens have formalised one of the most fringe political positions in a Western democracy. While Labor is more balanced, it would be a major worry for the Jewish community should the Greens become influential in a future government.
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Dr David Adler is President of the Australian Jewish Association
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