New Matilda journalist Max Chalmers' excellent piece on Labor MP (Freemantle, WA) Melissa Parke, who has announced she will be stepping down at the next election, is called Labor's conscientious objector: inside Melissa Parke's war on indifference (28/2/16). It could just as well have been called What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?
Chalmer's essay is a fascinating reflection on the interface between a thoroughly decent, principled, and beautiful human being and a thoroughly indecent, unprincipled, ugly-as-sin party machine. Or, to put it another way, the interface between a human being so morally and intellectually courageous that the issue of Palestine is central to her outlook on life and a party machine committed to ensuring that it is consigned to history's dustbin. Which is to say, a rotten-to-the-core Zionist party.
I would urge all of you to read the essay in its entirety. For now I wish only to highlight the following passages and say a few words:
"The issue of BDS in Australia, and of the Israel/Palestine conflict generally, remains politically unrewarding. Support begets accusations of anti-Semitism, and as The Greens have learnt, dogged attacks from the conservative press. If you are unlucky you might even end up in court. Meanwhile, most Australians couldn't tell you the first thing about the aging conflict. The repercussions for pushing it onto the public consciousness are severe, and the political payoffs somewhere between questionable and nonexistent."
Now isn't that the naked truth?! And yet, it seems to me, that even as good a journalist as Chalmers is afraid to spell out the bleeding obvious; whether Lib, Lab or Green, the Zionist lobby has Australian politics by its non-existent balls.
Example? Melissa Parke MP is tabling a petition in support of BDS by a dissident Israeli academic resident in Australia, Marcelo Svirsky. Writes Chalmers: "Despite being delivered to a near-empty chamber, Parkes' remarks were punctuated by outraged interjections."
Near-empty chamber... outraged interjections. Says it all, really.
So why has Parkes embraced the cause of Palestine? Simple. Being the intellectually and morally courageous individual she is, and having seen what she's seen, she simply cannot look away. From this:
"As the Second Intifada raged [2000-2005]... Parke was in Gaza... working as a Legal Officer for a UN refugee agency... At the time, Israel was deploying what Parke describes as 'a sort of shock and awe bombing campaign.' She says thirty-six bombs were dropped on her first night in Gaza city, shaking her building and its surrounds. She lay awake. Then Israel started targeting leaders of Hamas - too bad if you're the one who gets stuck in traffic behind them when the IDF locks on. 'You could be driving behind the car targeted with Hamas in it and you're gone as well,' Parke says. She was scared, and her fears were soon vindicated. The same year as Parke arrived in Gaza, a place she stayed for two and a half years, fellow UN worker Ian Hook was shot in the back by an Israeli sniper from a nearby building. Hook was in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank but was inside a UN compound at the time he was shot. He'd been there to help rebuild homes. Israel contests the exact details of the killing, but those like Parke believe the shooter must have known who they were about to slay. Despite some outrage, and conciliatory calls from Israel's then foreign minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to the English government, a UN resolution condemning the murder was vetoed by the United States.
"The killing of Hook and lack of international response outraged Parke, and she carries the injustice of it with her still. So too the many others she witnessed directly in the shelled and reshelled streets of Gaza. 'I didn't go there with a preconceived view,' Parke insists. 'I obviously had read about the situation. But it's not until you're there on the ground that you come to appreciate the absolute imbalance of power. You're talking about the fourth largest military power in the world with the latest technology and with an army, navy, airforce, versus an occupied people - an impoverished, occupied people.' These experiences soaked deep into Parke. When I tried to move the interview on, at one point, she moves us back to Palestine. This is what she wants to talk about and part of the reason she came to Parliament: to grab the megaphone and to use it."
Inevitably, the subject of Tanya (Once was warrior) Plibersek arises:
"Both Parke and Plibersek secured progressive inner-city seats and have an affinity for development and international affairs. Both are used as counter-examples by party faithful disillusioned with the middling leadership of Bill Shorten. Both have a powerful charisma and independent streak. But only one has played the disciplined insider game: Plibersek now finds herself on the ladder's penultimate rung. Yet... Tanya Plibersek underwent a transformation over the period of her ascent, especially in regards to international affairs. In earlier times, Plibersek decried Ariel Sharon as a war criminal and blasted the US but by the time he died in 2014, she was thanking the former Israeli leader for his 'courageous stand' for peace."
Yet another example, if one were needed, of the extraordinary power of the Israel lobby in this country. The appalling reality of Australian political life, as of American, is that the path to the the political ladder's penultimate rung passes through the Zionist lobby.
Finally, a quibble: "[Parke] is drawn to Labor's history and points to Doc Evatt... as [a source] of inspiration."
Melissa, should ever get around to reading this post, please, please, please take the trouble to click on the Dr Evatt label below and find out a little more about this Zionist icon.