With so many NSW state politicians bending the knee to Israeli apartheid and its local fifth column these days, the voices of those who fearlessly speak out in defence of Palestinian rights deserve our utmost respect.
One such is NSW Labor MLC Shaoquett Moselmane.
He had this to say in the context of a speech on religious freedom in the NSW Legislative Council on May 23:
"In a democratic country such as ours there are many ways in which people can express their views - the opportunities are wide open. I am a person who will not shy away from having my say. I will always say and do what is right, even in the face of the trash I have read in the Australian-Israeli media. One or two reporters writing in the Murdoch press - namely the Australian - have been attacking me and denying the truth of Israel's occupation of Palestinian land and the killing and dehumanising of the Palestinian people. This is utter garbage. I accept the right of people to express their views, even when they are wrong, naive, ill-informed, indoctrinated and blinded by the power of a political lobby group that is cancerous, malicious, and seeks to deny, misinform and scaremonger. What I do take exception to is foreigners intervening in the right of Australian politicians to speak out. Therefore, I say to the Israeli ambassador, Yuval Rotem, 'Butt out and stay out. Your perceived right to bully as you do in the Middle East does not extend to the Australian political arena.'
"In today's Australian, Cassandra Wilkinson*, lacking journalistic integrity and an informed knowledge of the Israeli occupation of Arab lands, took aim and attacked me. In an example of sloppy reporting and sloppy journalism, she quotes a statement she attributes to Mr David Shoebridge MLC that was actually made by Dr John Kaye MLC. Perhaps because Dr Kaye is of Jewish descent Ms Wilkinson conveniently attacks others in the NSW Parliament who simply dare to criticise - as any ethical or moral person would do - the state of Israel's illegal and criminal practices against the Palestinian people. I applaud all Muslim and Arab leaders for speaking out on these and other issues. I call on the Australian Arab Muslim community to unite and for once speak with one Australian voice. I ask them to protect the right of their community to speak out and deliver a message of peace and citizenship on behalf of their community so that neither they nor their messages are misconstrued or misunderstood."
In an article in today's Australian (Attack on Israel's backers puts ALP in damage control, Christian Kerr & Mark Coulton), quoting snatches of the above speech, we get some idea of the pressure Shaoquett Moselmane is coming under to toe the party (Likud?) line. One is reminded of the pressure to which the courageous and principled federal Labor MP Julia Irwin was subjected whenever she spoke up for the Palestinian cause:
"Clashes on Middle East policy are expected when the NSW Labor caucus meets tomorrow after a Muslim MP attacked supporters of Israel as 'cancerous' and 'malicious'."
(You'll note here that Moselmane was referring to the Israel lobby, not mere supporters of Israel. He's in good company in this regard: Fairfax columnist Mike Carlton has called the lobby a "ferocious beast," and another former Fairfax columnist and broadcaster, Terry Lane, described it as "malicious, implacable, mendacious and dangerous." (See my 12/6/10 post A Ferocious Beast.)
"MLC Shaoquett Moselmane was slapped down by Opposition Leader John Robertson after he used a speech in parliament about religious tolerance and multiculturalism to attack his critics, including columnists in The Australian... 'I comprehensively reject the allegations made by Mr Moselmane. I have made this clear to him', Mr Robertson said, adding that he had contacted Mr Rotem and Yair Miller, the president of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies. NSW Labor general secretary Sam Dastyari called the remarks 'completely inappropriate'. Australian Workers Union national secretary Paul Howes condemned Mr Moselmane's comments as 'contrary to the policy of the Labor Party'. Mr Moselmane declined to return calls from The Australian."
Watch this space.
[*See my 23/5/13 post Cassandra Wilkinson & Herstory.]