Wednesday, April 20, 2011

On Marrickville Bridge

This is how the Sydney Morning Herald reported last night's meeting at Marrickville Council:

"Marrickville Council's controversial push for a boycott of Israel was quashed at a tempestuous, crowded meeting last night. Gallery members reported being spat on, accusations of cowardice were screamed at councillors and flags and banners were waved as police looked on. Labor councillors and 2 Greens who had supported the initial push to support the global BDS campaign against Israel, voted with 2 independent councillors against it. The council's support for the movement has drawn unprecedented ire, including from the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Kevin Rudd, and the Premier, Barry O'Farrell, and messages of support from figures such as John Pilger and Julian Burnside.

"The Greens councillor Max Phillips denounced the attacks on the council but said: 'I do not believe there is sufficient understanding or support to justify council [supporting] a boycott of Israel... It must not be imposed'. He was jeered with calls of 'there goes your preselection'. The Labor councillors Mary O'Sullivan and Sam Iskander spoke passionately about their trips to Bethlehem and their support for Palestinian human rights, but said ultimately they could not continue to support the boycott. Cr O'Sullivan moved the motion which brought the boycott down. A separate motion by the mayor, Fiona Byrne, to retain in-principle support for the boycott was rejected. The only councillors who continued their support were the mayor, the independent Dimitrios Thanos and Greens pair Marika Kontellis and Cathy Peters.

"Hundreds of people attended the passionate meeting, which was filled with shouting, flag waving and jeers. Many could not find a seat in the chamber and stood in corridors and on the street. A Jewish blogger and pro-Palestinian rights activist, Antony Loewenstein, said he was spat on on his way in and called a pig. Proceedings were repeatedly interrupted. One woman called Arab councillors [sic] who did not support the boycott ' cowards', first in Arabic, then in English, before storming out.

"Cr Byrne said she was shocked by the vitriol the issue had attracted. 'I personally don't understand why we've had a sledgehammer used to crack the egg that is Marrickville Council on this issue', she said. Though the boycott was voted down, the council formally registered that it remained 'concerned about Palestinian human rights and calls on Israel to end the occupation of Palestinian lands'. Twelve councillors and 18 members of the public addressed the 3-hour debate." (Marrickville Council's move to boycott Israel sinks in stormy sea of debate, Josephine Tovey, 20/4/11)

This is how American journalist Ambrose Bierce (1842-1913) reported it:

"A Moral Principle met a Material Interest on a bridge wide enough for but one. 'Down, you base thing!' thundered the Moral Principle, 'and let me pass over you!' The Material Interest merely looked in the other's eyes without saying anything. 'Ah,' said the Moral Principle, hesitatingly, 'let us draw lots to see which shall retire till the other has crossed.' The Material Interest maintained an unbroken silence and an unwavering stare. 'In order to avoid a conflict,' the Moral Principle resumed, somewhat uneasily, 'I shall myself lie down and let you walk over me.' Then the Material Interest found a tongue, and by a strange coincidence it was its own tongue. 'I don't think you are very good walking,' it said. 'I am a little particular about what I have underfoot. Suppose you get off into the water.' It occurred that way."


Anonymous said...

One should not think that the matter is settled. Now that the Greens have proven that they are weak the attacks will increase. They must be punished!

MERC said...

They will be, but only after all the corks have been popped over at Lobby HQ, and the hangovers have worn off.

Rob said...

Wilfully ignorant bullies-I'm talking about you Kevin,and you Barry-beating down the morally weak.How do you support a BDS policy one week,then change your mind because someone plucks a 4,000,000 price tag from their fundamental?Truely a sad day for Palestinians and Australians.

Bempec said...

It is amazing that the Marrickville Council considered this issue as totally divorced from the general environment of the Middle East. With the recent turmoil in the Arab world, many have come to realize that for decades the Israel-Palestinian issue was used as a convenient smokescreen by despotic Arab regimes to cover their own appalling abuse of human rights, lack of freedom and free speech and a failure of economic development.
At least now it is clear as to what has been going on in the Arab world for decades. Only people such as Fiona Byrne and her supporters are blind to this and continue down their path of inciting hatred.

MERC said...

Then, my dear Bumpic, how clumsy of Israel to provide them with this "convenient smokescreen."

Anonymous said...

I called the Greens "cowards" in an earlier comment, and predicted that they'd back down from their BDS stance. They backed down, inevitably, but I think they did it in the best way possible. They done good, I reckon. Hopefully they collectively won't soon forget the treatment they've been dished out by the Murdoch media, and assorted politicians, in this episode.

Some lessons, once you learn them, there is no turning back.

Peter D