On the speech of The Hon. Lynda Voltz, Labor Party, in the NSW Legislative Council, arising out of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel (PFoI) 'Study mission" debate of March 14:
Another swipe at The Greens?
"Unlike my colleague Mr David Shoebridge, if I received an invitation from the Jewish Board of Deputies to go on a tour of Israel I would certainly take them up on the offer because I am a strong believer in the notion that travel broadens the mind and you should always listen to a person's point of view with an open mind. Travel should expose us to beliefs that are contrary to our own and challenge some of our views, particularly of history and international politics. However, if the reports of the study tour I have heard are anything to go by, I doubt there was any significant challenge to the existing views of those who went on the tour."
Is Voltz really suggesting that she had no idea that lobby-funded trips to Israel were all about welding already closed minds shut until her colleagues' speeches disabused her of the idea?
And what's this about David Clarke?
"While we may not agree it does not mean I do not respect his views."
Oh really? So what are his views? Here are but 2 from his speech given that very day, March 14 (See my 23/3/13 post Doing the Donkey* in the NSW Knesset 6):
1) "What the US faced on [9/11] is the threat that Israel has faced every day of its existence. It is something it has faced day in and day out for 65 years."
2) "[Israel] was a righteous cause 65 years ago and it is still a righteous cause 65 years later."
Voltz respects such views?
How sad it is that Shaoquett Moselmane appears to be the only person left in the NSW Labor Party capable of calling a spade a spade when it comes to the subject of the Middle East?
Still, she did usefully wonder "whether some of the outrage that was expressed in this Chamber over the BDS campaign was relayed to the [PA] Governor [Abdel Fattah Hamayel] who undertakes inspections of local shops to ensure that no products from illegal Israeli settlements are sold anywhere within Bethlehem," and note that "the tour did not meet with the democratically elected mayor of Bethlehem given all the support for democracy being voiced around this Chamber."
And, by way of underscoring the mission's complete lack of balance, she also listed a range of individuals our missionaries could have met with but didn't.
Be that as it may, however, Voltz's concluding comment was as lame as it gets:
"The most heartbreaking issue of the conflict is that it probably began when when the British insisted on preventing the immigration of Jewish holocaust survivors, which led to a Jewish uprising. The history since then has been complex. These people have been in conflict for a long time and there are arguments from all sides. It is important that members do not come into this Chamber with a binary view."
Voltz here completely misrepresents the conflict in Palestine.
By suggesting that the Palestinian conflict began in 1939 with Britain's decision to curb mass Jewish immigration (Zionism's primary means of achieving a demographic majority at the expense of Palestine's indigenous population) she ignores the history of the Zionist settler-colonial project in Palestine stretching back to 1917 and the indigenous Palestinian Arab resistance to it.
Further, to pretend that, in a vicious, one-sided struggle between colonizer and colonized, oppressor and oppressed, perpetrator and victim, there are "arguments from all sides" equally deserving of consideration and support is sheer poppycock.
The next post in the Doing the Donkey in the NSW Knesset series will be the last.
[*See my 2/3/13 post Doing the Donkey.]