Here's a massive generalization that I have no trouble whatever in making: How people approach the Palestine problem tells you everything you really need to know about them.
Do they have the wit to see its underlying colonial dynamic? Do they have the intelligence to see through the reams of propaganda, endlessly generated and carefully crafted to cover this up? Do they have the sense to see the need for just a little homework on the subject, a little reading, before shooting their mouths off? Do they have the morals which mandate always standing with the powerless and the oppressed against their oppressors? And finally, do they have the courage to stand up to the lies and the slurs which emanate from the appalling tribal pathology of those who batten on Palestinian dispossession and suffering?
Call me naive, but if these are not the kind of qualities we expect to see in Greens politicians (as distinct from the hollow, opportunistic and cowardly LibLab variety), then what, I ask, is the point of this parliamentary third force?
Sadly, with the honourable exception of Lee Rhiannon (Senate), John Kaye (NSW) and David Shoebridge (NSW) (& please prod me if I've missed anyone else here), the current crop of Greens politicians are either deafeningly silent on Palestine or, even worse, beginning to sing like canaries for the Zionist lobby. Just to focus on the latter group, here's their record so far:
Christine Milne, the new leader of the party, has told The Australian Jewish News that "BDS is behind us." (See my 21/4/12 post Some Questions for Christine Milne.)
Jeremy Buckingham (NSW) has joined the steering committee of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel. (See my 25/2/12 post Jeremy Buckingham Crosses the Rubicon.)
Cate Faehrmann (NSW) has called the anti-Max Brenner protests anti-Semitic. (See my 16/11/11 post Witches Brew 8.)
Colleen Hartland (Victoria) sucks up to the Peres Centre for Peace. (See my 17/6/11 post Foul Play.)
And it's now the turn of Richard Di Natale (Senate):
"Support for the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement by the NSW Greens was a huge mistake, admitted Senator Richard Di Natale at the Limmud Oz conference last weekend. He said the position, adopted last year by NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon, never was or would be Greens federal policy. 'It was hugely damaging and it was the wrong thing to do. We are a democratic party, it was a state branch that passed it because people didn't understand what it meant,' said Di Natale, who appeared on a panel with MPs Colleen Hartland and Sue Pennicuik and Jewish educator Ittay Flescher*, who probed The Greens on their policy affecting Israel and Australian Jews." (BDS was a huge mistake, admit Greens, The Australian Jewish News, 15/6/12)
The curious thing is that Di Natale is, among other things, the Greens spokesman for West Papua. The following appears on his website:
"The Greens believe that the indigenous people of West Papua should have the opportunity to democratically decide their own future, in accordance with international standards of human rights and the principles of international law. Greens spokesperson for West Papua Richard Di Natale has called on the Australian government to show leadership on the issue of West Papua. There are ongoing concerns about escalating conflict and the oppression of Papuans by the Indonesian military, partly trained and armed by Australia. The Greens have called upon Australia to suspend military ties with Indonesia, so long as such violence and human rights abuses continue. The West Papua region remains very difficult for journalists and human rights monitoring organisations to access. The Greens have also called for open access to journalists and human rights monitors."
Maybe Di Natale's website should now feature the following disclaimer:
"The Greens do not believe that the indigenous people of Palestine should have the opportunity to democratically decide their own future, in accordance with international standards of human rights and the principles of international law. In fact, they don't even believe they are the indigenous people of Palestine. Greens non-spokesman for Palestine Richard Di Natale has not called on the Australian government to show leadership on the issue of Palestine. In fact he has even slammed members of his own party who have shown leadership on this issue! There are ongoing concerns about escalating conflict and the oppression of Palestinians by the Israeli military, diplomatically supported by Australia in the UN and other international fora (but frankly, Richard's too busy watching football to really give a stuff). The Greens have not only not called upon Australia to suspend diplomatic ties with, or cut support for, Israel, so long as such violence and human rights abuses continue, they have even condemned citizen-led initiatives such as BDS . The Occupied Palestinian Territories remain very difficult for journalists and human rights monitoring organisations to access, but who gives a toss? The Greens have never called for open access to journalists and human rights monitors. And anyway, they're much too busy schmoozing with Indonesia - sorry, Israel - lobbyists."
Some disturbing facts (and a truly mind-blowing question) for the Greens' spokesman for West Papua:
1) West Papua is occupied land. Palestine is occupied land (from the River to the Sea).
2) West Papua has been colonised by Indonesia. Palestine has been colonised by Zionist colons, initially with the backing of British bayonets, and now with American.
3) West Papuans want freedom and independence from Indonesian colonialism. Palestinians want freedom and independence from Israeli colonialism.
4) Would Richard Di Natale embrace a West Papuan-led BDS campaign?
[*A most suitable subject for my very next post.]