Let me venture a prediction. As Labor fades away and the Greens slowly emerge as the new Labor, the ideals and principles that once characterised the party will inevitably fall victim to the compromises and accomodations with power that so marked the decline of its forbear and made it virtually indistinguishable from the Liberals.
A depressing prediction, certainly. Yet for those concerned for the direction of the Greens in the 21st century, it is important to keep an eye open for any indication that that is indeed where they are heading.
That is not to say, I hasten to add, that we have had no such indications to date. However, as any regular reader of this blog will be aware, it is my firm belief that the Palestine/Israel issue is the greatest ever litmus test for sorting out those with intellectual and moral courage from the rest. And God knows, as the current spectacle in Canberra amply demonstrates, intellectual and moral courage, which should be the sine qua non for any who aspire to political office, is the last thing you'd look to any of our Lib-Lab politicians for.
And what, you're wondering, has prompted this gloomy train of thought? Well, we have in Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham's decision to join the steering committee of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel the most spectacular failure of that Palestine/Israel test in the history of the party so far:
"Board of Deputies President Yair Miller addressed the re-launch of the Parliamentary Friends of Israel group. Over 60 NSW Members of Parliament turned out at State Parliament House for the event. Member for Vaucluse Gabrielle Upton MP was elected chair and Walt Secord MLC deputy chair. A committee of 13 members was elected to form the steering committee: David Clarke MLC, Jonathan O'Dea MP, Luke Foley MLC, Gareth Ward MP, Scot MacDonald MLC, Rev Fred Nile MLC, Chris Spence MP, Eric Roozendaal MLC, Melinda Pavey MLC, Dominic Perrottet MP, Ryan Park MP, Don Harwin MLC and Jeremy Buckingham MLC." (Parliamentary Friends regroups, At the Board, Vol 1-2012)
What exactly was behind the move, whether sheer ignorance, pig-headedness, the pressures of groupthink or the blandishments of the usual suspects, or a combination of same, we can only speculate.
But not only does Buckingham's decision mean that, as the Greens' cog in the Zionist steering committee, he's meshing with the likes of Clarke, Nile and Roozendaal, he's also had to stomach none other than the Israeli ambassador, Yuval Rotem, at a gathering of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel on 21 February, traducing fellow Greens in the overweening tones so typical of Zionist apologists and ranters:
"The candidate for Marrickville, Fiona Byrne, tripped over herself in many public statements, confused that her Utopian vision of a world with a weakened Israel was poorly received outside the confines of her urban hamlet. BDS in Australia has since become a media byline... for another failed movement of radical activists which, shamefully, attached itself to a municipal councl for a few months." (Cause for Israel stronger after boycott attempts, The Australian, 23/2/12)
"Where Lee Rhiannon's Greens looked likely to pick up a cluster of seats in the NSW election, they left demoralised, finishing behind Labor on primary votes in the only seat they ended up winning... When we hear about BDS now, it's not coming from the mouths of prominent politicians and mayors or respected journalists of record. It's being shouted from poorly attended protests, or from the back of police cars, or from the former communists who stayed with Stalin even after the Wall fell." (ibid) [On Rotem's speech, see my 23/2/12 post The Essence of Israel.]
Buckingham is also having to stomach being smarmed in the Murdoch press by the likes of Imre Salusinszky:
"Mr Buckingham has emerged as a leader of the 'deep-green' or conservation-focused section of the party in NSW, which has pushed back at the hard-Left faction associated with Senator Rhiannon. He successfully led a push last December for the state party to abandon BDS." (Israel's man lets fly at BDS backers, The Australian, 23/2/12)
Not to mention the Israeli ambassador:
"I thank those Greens MPs and candidates who stood tall and opposed BDS, citing their own values of principle and justice, for which some of their colleagues have no tolerance." (ibid)
That Buckingham may even have acquired a taste for such things is hardly to indulge in wild speculation. Having crossed this, his Rubicon to the dark side, the question remains: Will Jeremy Buckingham be the first Australian Greens politician to take the Kool-Aid in Israel?
What a bloody sad business this is for the Greens.
[On Buckingham's slide see my posts Which side are you on? (9/9/11) and A Cautionary Tale (16/9/11)]