There's nothing quite like the Palestine test to separate the sheep from the goats. Of the 17 MLCs who spoke on the subject of the BDS campaign in the NSW Legislative Council on Thursday, September 15, only John Kaye and David Shoebridge of The Greens passed with flying colours.
The other 15 whipped up such a witches' brew of ignorance, stupidity, hysteria, mendacity and venom as to take one's breath away. Any critical reading of the transcript of their speeches can only lead to the mortifying conclusion that if, as the saying goes, we get the politicians we deserve, then this country is doomed.
As time permits, I intend to dissect each of the 15 speeches in a series of not necessarily consecutive posts. Consider it an exercise in knowing the enemy.
The first speaker, ultra-right Catholic Liberal MLC David Clarke, moved the motion that the Legislative Council "(a) notes with concern the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign against legitimate businesses operating in Australia which provide jobs to hundreds of Australians. (b) calls on members to condemn the targeting of Max Brenner Chocolate Cafes by anti-Israel protesters. (c) notes that some of the rhetoric used by proponents of the BDS campaign has descended into anti-Semitism, and (d) condemns anti-Semitism in all its forms."
Get the drift? BDS is merely another manifestation of anti-Semitism, the oldest Zionist smear in the book.
"Those who fuel this campaign say that it targets some of Israel's policies but the truth of the matter..."
Over which Clarke has a monopoly, mind you.
"... is that... it target's Israel's legitimacy."
That a state built by force of arms on the dispossession, dispersal and occupation of another people can have no legitimacy, of course, is lost on the man.
"The BDS has at at the core of its platform that there should be a right of return to Israel..."
Not there should be. There is - Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But you wouldn't expect Clarke, a one-time solicitor, to know that, now would you?
"... not just of all Palestinians who claim to have lived in Israel at the time of its independence in 1948 and who left for whatever reason..."
Those Palestinians, now refugees for over 6 decades, claim to have lived in Israel? No, they claim (correctly, and with title deeds to prove it) to have lived in Palestine.
But it's that who left for whatever reason bit that's so revealing here. You can see Clarke doesn't want to go there. But even if, by a miracle of honesty, he had said frankly that yes, they were driven out by bands of armed men who coveted their humble patch for an exclusively Jewish state, it wouldn't have mattered anyway because for Zionists like Clarke the only thing that really matters is that the indigenes weren't left cluttering the landscape and generally making a nuisance of themselves for the sanctified newcomers from Europe.
"... it demands that all of the descendants of those who departed for whatever reason should also have the right of return - every child, every grandchild, every great grandchild should likewise have the automatic right of return."
The nerve of these people! Fancy expecting to take their kids and grandkids with them, if, by some miracle, they were ever to achieve their international law-approved right of return to their homes and lands in former Palestine. Nowhere in his speech, however, does Clarke mention Israel's Law of Return, which confers automatic citizenship on Jews (even so-called lost Jewish tribes) who have no real link to Palestine/Israel at all. They need only produce a Jewish mother or grandmother and, hey presto, along with their kids, their grandkids, and their great grandkids, they're in like Flynn with their very own slice of occupied Palestine.
"This would mean not just scores of thousands or even several hundred thousand; it would mean millions, even many millions."
This would mean - shock, horror - they could be living next door to... Israeli Jews. Next door? Heaven forbid!
"The United Nations in 1947 envisaged two states in Palestine, one Jewish and one Arab."
True, but what the UN did not envisage, propose or sanction was any kind of population transfer. The UN partition resolution of 1947 did not authorise the expulsion of non-Jews, who amounted to almost 50% of the population of the proposed Jewish state. Just as it did not authorise the taking of 22% of the proposed Arab state or Jerusalem, which was supposed to come under international control.
"The result of the BDS campaign would see Israel, as a predominantly Jewish state, face the destruction of its Jewish character."
Yes, just as South Africa faced the destruction of its white supremacist character in 1994. It's called de-colonisation.
For Clarke "the platform of the BDS campaign demands that Israel commit national suicide."
I have no evidence to date but can imagine Clarke expressing a similar hyperbolic sentiment with regard to boycotting apartheid South Africa.
After trotting out "the terrorists of Hezbollah and Hamas," "the late but unlamented Osama bin Laden," and the Iranian president, Clarke fingers federal Greens senator Lee Rhiannon, who, having finally recovered from "the collapse of the Soviet empire," is portrayed, Svengali-like, as being at "the apex of the BDS campaign here in Australia."
Oh, and Rhiannon has at her disposal an "energising army of cadres," from the Marx/Chavez/Castro/Guevara/Trotsky-inspired Socialist Alliance, which presides over violent demonstrations characterised by "out-and-out anti-Semitic slogans."
While this kind of conspiratorial claptrap undoubtedly goes down well in the cloistered circles in which Clarke moves, it goes without saying that he completely ignores the inconvenient fact that the global BDS movement is no more nor less than a response to a 2005 call by "more than 170 Palestinian civil society groups, including all major political parties, refugee rights associations, trade union federations, women's unions, NGO networks, and virtually the entire spectrum of grassroots organisations" for "international civil society organisations and people of conscience all over the world to 'impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era'*." And why not? After all, what has the UN, crippled by a US veto wielded on behalf of Israel, ever managed to achieve by way of halting Israel's relentless colonisation of the occupied Palestinian territories or winning some measure of justice for stateless Palestinian refugees?
[*BDS: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights, Omar Barghouti, 2011, p 5.]