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Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Page: 5916

Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaManager of Opposition Business in the Senate) (16:21): Let us be absolutely clear: the BDS campaign is part of an orchestrated campaign to delegitimise the state of Israel. Senators, including Senator Brown, who refuse to condemn the BDS movement are well deserving of a motion that decries their incapacity to condemn the BDS movement. That is why a suspension of standing orders should be granted.

There is no human rights element to BDS. There is no high purpose or motivation behind the movement. It dresses itself up in the clothes of the anti-apartheid movement, that great and successful movement that sought to fight the abomination of separate racial development in South Africa. But in dressing itself up in the mantle of the anti-apartheid movement, it debases and devalues that noble campaign that was successful in ending apartheid in South Africa. There is no comparison and there can be no comparison between the state of Israel and apartheid era South Africa. Israel is a free and democratic state. The rule of law prevails. There is freedom of speech. There is freedom of association. There is freedom of assembly. South Africa was a nation where citizens were not all equal before the law. The Middle East, in contrast, is a land where two peoples, Israelis and Palestinians, ultimately seek a two-state solution; they seek two states to live side by side in peace and security. Sanctions, boycotts and divestments will not help the creation of a two-state solution, a two-state solution which I support, a two-state solution which everyone on this side of the chamber supports. Neither will denying the legitimacy of the state of Israel help achieve the goal of a Palestinian state. The real goal of those who support BDS is not a two-state solution. The movement is not pro-peace, the movement is not pro-Palestinian, the movement is unequivocally and unashamedly anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish.

Although I think boycotts are misguided, people should feel free to buy or not buy whatever product they want. What must be condemned are secondary boycotts. What must be condemned is intimidation. What must be condemned is denigration of a people. What must be condemned are lies about a nation. What must be condemned are the shadows of anti-Semitism, which we see in the placards outside Max Brenner coffee shops around the world. What must be condemned is that shadow of anti-Semitism, which we hear in the chants and the cries of those who are protesting outside legitimate businesses that are simply trying to earn an income, make a living and employ people. In Australia we must stand against those who seek to prevent freedom of association. That is what they seek to do by these secondary boycotts. They seek to prevent people going into a shop of their choice. That is opposing freedom of association.

What astounds me about the response of the Australian Greens today is that the motion that Senator Boswell moved actually seeks to praise a member of the Australian Greens. I could not think of a more benign motion from the point of view of the Australian Greens. This is a motion that Senator Brown should have embraced. Senator Brown has sought to differentiate himself from the New South Wales Greens. He has sought to differentiate himself from Marrickville Council. He has sought to differentiate himself from the Greens candidate for the seat of Marrickville in the New South Wales state election. Today what he has done is line up fairly and squarely with Marrickville Council, with the Greens former candidate and with the BDS movement.

No nation is perfect. The nation of Israel is not perfect. It does not claim to be. But it is free and it is democratic. It deserves the support of the Australian nation. As a friend we can make criticisms, but we should stand by Israel and its right to exist.