by: Samah Sabawi
A response to Greg Sheridan’s ‘A Party of Ignorant Extremists’.
The Australian’s unrelenting attack on the Greens and the Boycott Divestment
and Sanctions campaign continued today with Foreign Editor Greg Sheridan’s
opinion piece entitled “A party of ignorant extremists” April 7, 2011. In
this piece, Sheridan lists a number of services Israel offers the
Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank and asks if the Greens are willing to
boycott these institutions that provide health care, electricity and jobs
First of all, the services listed fall under Israel’s obligations as an
occupying power under the 4th Geneva Convention. They are offered on a very
limited basis and are paid for by the PA from International paid funds. The
insinuation that Boycotts of Israel would harm the Palestinians is at best
patronizing. The call for Boycotts came from Palestinian Civil Society, and
is supported by most Palestinians living today in the iron grip of
occupation. To try to brand the occupation as being good for the
Palestinians reflects a colonial outlook which Palestinians strongly reject.
This orchestrated campaign of misinformation and slurs launched against the
Greens in Marrickville is intended to send a chilling message to all
politicians. Speak out on the rights of Palestinians and you will be called
extreme and anti-semitic.
Anyone who has been involved in the BDS campaign knows that a growing number
of Diaspora Jews as well as Israelis from within have also joined this call
because they view it as the only way to save Israel from its path of
self-destruction. Our politicians here need to understand that as well.
Throwing around words like ‘supporting the two state solution’ is empty
rhetoric in light of the facts on the grounds today. If not boycotts, I’d
like to know what our elected officials are doing to ensure the viability of
the two-state solution?
Israel has used decades of negotiations with Palestinians only to expand
their settlements and to entrench their occupation. A look at the
Palestinian Papers Leaks provides a clear picture of how much Palestinians
were willing to compromise – including on the right of return – and how
uninterested the Israeli government was in making any head way.
It needs to be made clear that the call for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions
is fully rooted in International Humanitarian Law and that the demands made
by the BDS call are fully in-line with Australia’s stated foreign policy on
the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. BDS demands an end to the systematic
discrimination against Palestinians citizens of the state of Israel, an end
to Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land as per UNSC resolution
242 and for Israel to meet its obligations under International Humanitarian
Law and UN Resolution 194. How can any of these three demands be considered
extreme or anti-semitic?
BDS activists, Israelis and Palestinians firmly reject the idea of turning
their human tragedy into a football match, with members of our government
here in Australia choosing teams, this one is pro-Israel and that one is
pro-Palestinian. Palestinians and Israelis have had enough of being used
for political gains. BDS activists want the governments of the world to
take a pro-justice and pro-human rights stand. Supporters of the BDS
amongst the Greens should be congratulated for supporting justice and
equality in Palestine/Israel and for endorsing a movement that is rooted in
International Humanitarian Law and the Universal Declarations of Human
Samah Sabawi is the public advocate of Australians for Palestine.