Christopher Pyne MP – in response to Bishop’s motion supporting Israel and denouncing boycott calls, condemned support for BDS campaign

photo of Christopher Pyne MP
May 23, 2011

This BDS campaign is about the delegitimisation of the right of the state of Israel to exist. That is exactly what it is about. It has been put on the same level as the South African apartheid regime. The proponents of the BDS say that Israel is just like South Africa in the pre-apartheid-abolition period…

Full speech

Mr PYNE (SturtManager of Opposition Business) (20:51): I was delighted to second the motion of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition with respect to the state of Israel and our support for it and the condemnation of the Marrickville Council, the Greens and their fellow travellers in the Labor Party who supported both the Greens and the BDS campaign. It is not surprising to me that the member for Calwell, in her 10-minute speech on this motion—in spite of the fact that one half of it was entirely devoted to the Greens’ stance on the Marrickville Council—at no point condemned the Greens, the Marrickville Council or the unions within the Labor Party who support the boycotts, divestments and sanctions campaign. I would not expect the same from the member for Melbourne Ports, but I was disappointed. I note with absolute clarity that the member for Calwell at no point addressed that part of the motion and instead chose to depart from even government policy, let alone coalition policy, in her condemnation of the state of Israel. The boycotts, divestments and sanctions campaign is a particularly pernicious and sophisticated campaign. It seeks to undermine the state of Israel through its enemies on the left by what is supposedly a victimless campaign. Apparently nobody will be hurt by the boycotts, divestments and sanctions campaign. It is a far cry from the campaigns of the left against the state of Israel in past decades and a far cry from the bad public relations campaigns of the terrorists who have attacked the state of Israel for decades. It is much better PR to come up with a non-dangerous sounding campaign like boycotts, divestments and sanctions. It is a far cry from pushing wheelchair-bound disabled people off the Achille Lauro. It is a far cry from shooting Israeli competitors during the Munich Olympics. It is a far cry from the bombing of the World Trade Center during September 11. It is a far cry from shooting kindergarten children in northern Israel. The people who have promoted the boycotts, divestments and sanctions campaign have learnt their lesson from bad public relations. They have suckered in not only the Greens but, unfortunately, also members of the union movement that is affiliated with the Labor Party. I know that those people’s views are not shared by all members of the Labor Party and I expect a much better contribution to the debate from the member for Melbourne Ports, who has stood by the state of Israel throughout his entire political career.

The boycotts, divestments and sanctions campaign was given credibility by the Durban I conference, which passed a motion endorsing the BDS and suggesting that member states, organisations and unions join up with the BDS. Having failed to conventionally defeat the state of Israel militarily since 1948, the proponents of the BDS campaign have chosen a more insidious method in order to undermine and delegitimise the state of Israel. This BDS campaign is about the delegitimisation of the right of the state of Israel to exist. That is exactly what it is about. It has been put on the same level as the South African apartheid regime. The proponents of the BDS say that Israel is just like South Africa in the pre-apartheid-abolition period—in that period from the sixties right through to the eighties and the nineties when apartheid ruled South Africa. All of it is designed to suggest to soft-headed people in the West that Israel is just like the South African apartheid regime. The campaign is designed to undermine its very legitimacy.

There are five elements to the BDS campaign. These include the desire to make Israel a pariah state; the use of lawfare through the international courts, through the United Nations and through reports like the Goldstone report to undermine the state of Israel; and the demand for an intergenerational refugee status on the right of return for hundreds of thousands of people who have left the state of Israel a very long time ago. But the very worst part of the BDS campaign is that it undermines the attempts at harmony between Palestinians and Israelis. The member for Eden-Monaro knows exactly what I am talking about because he was with me in Israel last December when these matters were debated. The worst part of the BDS campaign is that it undermines the capacity for peace in the Middle East. It undermines harmony between Palestinians and Israelis. It undermines the capacity for business connections and academic connections and, worst of all, even down to the lowest level, it opposes things like the AFL team that is made up of Palestinians and Jewish Israelis travelling to Australia to show harmony between Israeli and Palestinian people. I condemn the Greens and the Labor Party for their support of it. (Time expired.)

Link to parliamentary Hansard

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