Senator Glenn Sterle – statement in condemnation of BDS and remarks by Melissa Parke

photo of Senator Glenn Sterle
October 30, 2014

Unfortunately, [Ms Parke] needs to cease her support for divisive campaigns, like the BDS movement, and support a more constructive dialogue on the issues facing both Israelis and Palestinians.

Full speech

Senator STERLE (Western Australia) (01:32): I rise to condemn the recent remarks from the member for Fremantle, Melissa Parke, in support of a campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions against the state of Israel. By supporting campaigns for BDS promoted by the likes of Omar Barghouti, the member for Fremantle shows that she is ill-informed and her comments are simplistic and, unfortunately, inflammatory.

The member supports boycotting Israeli and Jewish businesses and in her speech praises the BDS movement headed by Mr Barghouti, who has said on a number of occasions that he wants an end to the Jewish state. His BDS movement is not an opposition to settlements, it is an opposition to Israel’s existence and for Israeli Jews at best to live as a minority under a Muslim majority. Mr Barghouti has said:

Going back to a two-state solution, beside having passed its expiry date, it was never a moral solution to start with.

He has said:

The two-state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is really dead. Good riddance! But someone has to issue an official death certificate before the rotting corpse is given a proper burial and we can all move on.

He has said:

… a unitary state [is] where, by definition, Jews will be a minority.

I am convinced that the member for Fremantle would not like to live under sharia law where women’s rights are heavily constrained. Why does she demand that Israeli women who live in a thriving, open democracy where women have full rights be put in a situation where their rights would be reduced to that of women living under Hamas’s rule in Gaza? I can tell you that, as an elector for over 35 years in the federal seat of Fremantle, I certainly would not prefer sharia law over the commitment to democracy, equality and personal liberties that Australia and Israel share.

It is time that the member for Fremantle stopped spouting propaganda that comes directly from organisations and groups that are devoted to genocidal ideologies. At a time when we are seeing so many examples around the world of the consequences of Islamic extremism, it is quite disgraceful that the member for Fremantle would support a movement that would isolate a liberal democracy with the intention of its ultimate dismantlement.

In addition, the Labor Party’s position on this issue is very clear. As the Leader of the Opposition confirmed in a statement yesterday, Labor’s position on this matter is crystal clear:

The Labor Party opposes the BDS campaign – it has no place in our society. I stand for engagement with Israel at every level. Peace in the Middle East will only be achieved by the parties negotiating a mutually equitable outcome; Labor does not regard the BDS campaign as contributing to this outcome.

While I am all for internal debate within the Australian Labor Party, there are appropriate forums in place for such debate to be had. Should the member wish to bring this issue to the attention of her colleagues, I would encourage her to go through the proper processes rather than to continue to make public statements that, at best, are unhelpful and, at worst, incite greater animosity between communities. Unfortunately, the member needs to cease her support for divisive campaigns, like the BDS movement, and support a more constructive dialogue on the issues facing both Israelis and Palestinians.

Link to parliamentary Hansard