On the 3 March 2016, Mr Michael Sukkar MP (Liberal Party, Victoria) delivered a speech in federal parliament regarding BDS. His slurs and inaccuracies are sloppy at best, deceitful at worst.
Following is the response from Bishop George Browning, APAN’s President, sent on 4 March.
Dear Mr Sukkar,
The Jewish Board of Deputies has just appraised me of your speech in the house of representatives in relation to BDS.
It is very convenient, but not very insightful, to name anyone with whom you disagree ‘a leftist’ or an ‘anti-Semite’. I fully support the right of Israel to exist and strongly support its right to do so within the boundaries of international law which prohibits the long term occupation of land which does not belong. I am fully aligned with my Jewish roots that undergird Christianity. I do not consider myself ‘of the left’, or ‘of the right’ for that matter, and I am certainly not an anti-Semite.
I believe in human rights, justice and the right of self-determination. If people are oppressed, as the Palestinian people certainly are they really have three choices. Either they can roll over and take it. Or they can resist violently, or they can resist non-violently. Even with your strongly pro-Israel stance I do not believe you would consider the first two an option. Non-violent resistance is the only option. Why would you not consider BDS a legitimate non-violent option? The BDS option, at least as it is expressed in Australia draws attention to the financial advantage that Israel takes through its illegal settlements and by which, together with quarantines it places on Palestinian enterprise and development, it denudes Palestinians of a viable economy. It does not target Jewish people. it targets companies that make money in the settlements, built over the demolished homes and livelihoods of Palestinian people.
Let me also put something else straight. While you quote Palestinians who want to deny the right of Israel to exist, surely you are aware that half the Kennest have made statements that Palestine has no legitimacy and will never be allowed to exist. Your side of politics, the coalition, supports a two state-solution. Why do you not challenge some of these outrageous statements from senior Israeli ministers? Let me remind you of some of them.
Naftali Bennett – Minister for Education
“I will do everything in my power to make sure they (Palestinians) never get a state”
Ayelet Shaked – Minister for Justice
“We should manage the conflict and not give up a centimeter of land”.
Tzipi Hotovely – Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs
“This land is ours. All of it is ours”. “We need to demand sovereignty over all Judea and Samaria”.
Zeev Elkin Minister for Jerusalem
“There is no place for a Palestinian State, not in temporary borders or in any other configuration”.
Uri Ariel Minister for Agriculture
“There will be just one state between the Jordan river and the sea and this will be the state of Israel”.
This is a small sample, I can give you many others.
When you make a speech on this matter in the future, I plead that you will at least attempt some balance and not resort to common invective to make your point. Better still, accept an invitation from APAN to spend as much time in the Palestinian territories as I am sure you have already spent in Israel and then return to the parliament and make another speech.
Warm good wishes
Bishop George Browning
Australia Palestine Advocacy Network