Two union leaders, Diana Asmar, state secretary of the Health Workers Union (HWU), the biggest union within the HSU, and Dr Henry Pinskier, a former vice-president of the ALP, "have described a Health Services Union (HSU) motion supporting a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel as 'anti-Semitic, misguided, ignorant and quite frankly, mad'." (BDS Health warning, The Australian Jewish News, 1/9/16)
They added: "It is not a trade union's job to delve into international geopolitical affairs or to raise misguided and anti-Semitic motions."
In which case then, why has Ms Asmar recently returned from an AIJAC Rambam Fellowship Trade Union Study Visit to Israel, where she "noted how incredible she found it to see Jews and Arabs working together in Israeli hospitals to treat all citizens without prejudice or favour," and "commented on the incredible medical technologies coming out of Israel, expressing incomprehension as to how BDS supporters could want to boycott such life saving techniques." (Returning trade unionists praise Israel at AIJAC function, jwire.com, 30/6/17)
(For the record, the only other Israel-bound unionist named by jwire.com was "Glen Chatterton of the Plumbers Union Service Trade Queensland." They were "accompanied" by Michael Borowick of the Australia/Israel Labor Dialogue (AILD).)
So what kind of unionist is one minute laying down the law that unions shouldn't be bothering their pretty heads with international geopolitical affairs, and the next is up to her neck in a certain international geopolitical affair?
Well, in addition to being an apparent expert on international geopolitical affairs and anti-Semitism, Asmar's certainly an interesting (and innovative) character, as the following profile indicates:
"Asmar is a former Labor mayor with the troubled Darebin council in Melbourne's northwest. As a novice leader of a small to middle-sized union branch, her salary has raised eyebrows inside the HSU, especially after pay packet excesses of [Michael] Williamson and [Kathy] Jackson. Asmar boosted her salary to $182,000 in the 2014 financial year... On $182,000, Asmar was the highest paid union official in Australia... Asmar's perceived mastery of the industrial landscape and how the modern world came to be has prompted some mirth among her colleagues. At a 2013 national council meeting in Sydney, they recall Asmar referring to 'World War Eleven' - apparently mistaking Roman numerals for the higher number. In all seriousness, what her colleagues do find astounding is the remarkable 'cashing out' of a $25,975 paid maternity leave entitlement that Asmar secured for herself in the 2015 financial year... World experts on gender and employment... say 'cashing out' maternity leave is unheard of, and defeats the whole purpose of the entitlement as leave... There is more that is murky about Asmar. During royal commission evidence in 2014, Asmar claimed she did not know about her election campaign funding because she left it to her husband, David, a former staffer of recently-departed senator Stephen Conroy." (From Diana Asmar: Bill Shorten's no 1 union mate, Brad Norington, The Australian, 7/11/16)