On the speech of The Hon. David Shoebridge, The Greens, in the NSW Legislative Council, arising out of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel (PFoI) "study mission" 'debate' of March 14:
As can be imagined, David Shoebridge's magnificent intervention was about as welcome as a sunny morning to a vampire.
He began by defending The Greens' refusal to take part in the "study mission" charade:
"That was primarily because of the one-sided nature of the itinerary, which is reflected in the one-sided nature of this motion. In a motion that purports to talk about 'building an understanding of the complex and various issues impacting on Israel and other jurisdictions within the Middle East,' it is extraordinary that in the more than 100 words and 5 paragraphs of this motion not one word about Palestine or the Palestinians. The human rights of the Palestinians are airbrushed out of the motion, just as they were airbrushed out of the itinerary... Having heard the contributions of members who went on the study tour and having read the motion, I can see that this is little more than a public relations exercise for the Israeli government."
Shoebridge's tack throughout was to focus on the 'study' tour's complete lack of balance.
If the PFoI were really interested in "building an understanding of the complex and various issues impacting on Israel," he averred, they could have met with "any members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, or at least those members not currently being held in Israeli jails," or gone to Gaza, "the world's largest outdoor prison."
There, he pointed out, they could have seen "the X-rays that the Gaza doctors show of children's kidneys riddled with kidney stones because of the saline water they are required to drink [because] Israeli wells on the edge of Gaza are stripping out the fresh water from the arterial basin and [it] is filling up with sea water."
Or, he continued, they could have gone to the West Bank and "spoken to Palestinian villagers whose lives and livelihoods have been destroyed by the apartheid wall," or to Hebron, where they could have gone on a "Breaking the Silence tour, where former Israeli soldiers would have told them about what goes on in the occupied territories, about the violence and discrimination perpetrated by the Israeli military and the settler movement against the native Palestinian population."
Shoebridge's blinding truths, however, proved too much for one particular denizen of the parliamentary gloom, namely Peter Phelps (Liberal, rambammed 7/12), the author of such memorable tweets as: "Just peered into Gaza - now I know how Frodo felt when he first gazed upon Mordor" & "Sang 'Hava Nagila' on a sand dune in the Negev while drinking Heineken."**
"What about the Qatar and Hamas civil war? What about what Qatar and Hamas do to each other?" interjected Phelps.
Kid you not: QATAR! (The goose of course meant Fateh.)
Shoebridge pressed on: "How could members not visit the Palestinian refugee camps in neighbouring countries such as Lebanon, where Palestinian refugees from 1948, 1967 and beyond live in sub-standard, Third World conditions?"
But Phelps, his Qatar gaffe notwithstanding, was bent on making a complete goose of himself, honking: "What is the right of return for Vietnamese refugees?"
It was the speech which followed, however, that really set the cat - ahem - among the pigeons.
Next in the Doing the Donkey in the NSW Knesset series: Shaoquette Moselmane, MLC. Stay tuned.
[*See my 2/3/13 post Doing the Donkey; **See my 20/8/12 post Frodos Gaza Upon Mordor.]