Friday, April 1, 2011

Bob Brown & A Failure of Courage

Greens founder and leader Bob Brown uses the Murdoch press - the Murdoch press for God's sake - to dump on his colleague Lee Rhiannon:

"Senator Brown said the Israel boycott proposal was against his advice and had alienated NSW voters when the party should have been focusing on bread-and-butter issues." (Greens leader Bob Brown slaps down Lee Rhiannon on Israel boycott policy, James Massola & Joe Kelly, The Australian, 1/4/11)

Notice how Brown uses the exact same argument as the Labor opportunist whose wife, Carmel Tebbutt, stood against the Greens' Fiona Byrne for the seat of Marrickville? I speak, of course, of federal Labor minister Anthony Albanese, who weighed in on the subject of Marrickville Council's support for BDS back in January with, "Foreign policy is a fair way outside the parameters of the role of Marrickville Council..." (See my 18/1/11 post A Rising Tide of Pro-Israel Bias at the ABC.) And by so doing, Albanese unmasked himself as a fairweather friend of the Palestinians. (I'm actually at a loss to explain why he was ever considered a friend of the Palestinians in the first place.)

What a sterling example for you to follow, Bob. And what precisely do you mean when you talk about NSW voters? I mean, where's the science here? Fiona Byrne came close to knocking off Albanese's missus, and Jamie Parker looks set to take Balmain from Labor, and all you can do is mutter darkly about supposedly upset NSW voters . Tell us who's been in your ear, Bob.

"He had conveyed his views to Greens senator-elect Ms Rhiannon in a 'robust' phone call this morning. Senator Brown said the federal Greens in no way endorsed the policy', Senator Brown said. 'It was a mistake. I differ from Lee on that, and so do other components of the NSW Greens, who handled so badly that part of the campaign against my advice. I reiterate that the policy she and the NSW Greens had in the run to the NSW election was [the] wrong emphasis. NSW voters wanted to hear about issues affecting them day-to-day, it's one that has been rejected by the Australian Greens'... 'I think that it was damaging to the Greens campaign. They had very good policies on transport, preschool education, renewable energy, and the hate media was able to play this up', he said."

And who have you been talking to, Bob? The hate media, aka the Murdoch press, right? And what's a/the major component of Murdoch press hate, Bob? That's right, lashing out at at anyone who dares to criticise Israel for its crimes against the Palestinian and other Arab peoples, its utter contempt for international law, and its central role in destabilising the Middle East, whipping up Islamophobia around the globe and compromising our democratic freedoms and processes. So what are you saying here, Bob? On the face of it: shove the principle, let's just say whatever it takes to win, and zip up on the rest.

Unfortunately, Bob Brown has dismally failed the litmus test for intellectual and moral integrity so eloquently posed by Singaporean scholar Kishore Mahbubani: "The liberal internationalists were at the forefront of calls to hold Sudan and China accountable for the misery in Darfur under the concept of 'responsibility to protect'. Yet, many of these same voices did not bring up the concept of responsibility to protect when collective punishment was imposed on the people of Gaza. There is one point that needs to be emphasised here: there is always a litmus test to assess a person's intellectual and moral courage. In the West, especially in America, this litmus test is provided by the Middle East issue. The intellectual and moral cowardice of Western intellectuals on this issue is stunning. Paradoxically, by censoring their views on Israel they have done great damage to Israel by failing to point out to it the sheer folly of remaining in perpetual conflict with its neighbors. The next time any Western intellectual calls upon the rest of the world to show courage by speaking 'truth to power' he or she should lead the charge by speaking 'truth to power' on the Israel-Palestine dispute."


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