For the first time in Australian political history a mainstream party has in its policy platform unconditional support for the establishment of a new state in which all main players have a strong record of Islamist jihad and terrorism, human rights abuse and corruption.
The Australian Labor Party on 30 March on the first day of its Special Platform Conference 2021, inserted into its platform ‘the next Labor government to recognise Palestine as a state, and expects that this issue will be an important priority for the next Labor government’.
Exactly who would govern this currently non-existent state, Labor does not say. So, let’s inform Labor of who’s in the mix. The current players jostling for power over Gaza and much of Judea-Samaria (also known as the West Bank) are either proscribed terrorist organisations such as Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, or the Palestine Liberation Organisation also known as the Palestinian Authority (PA) which proudly incites and rewards terrorism.
The Australian Jewish Association (AJA) has presented the opinion of the Australian law officer with arguably the most experience in dealing with terrorism cases, former Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions Jeremy Rapke QC, stating although the PA is not currently proscribed as a terror organisation it likely meets the criteria by inciting and fostering terrorism.
The PA via its notorious ‘Pay for Slay’ programme and Martyrs Fund spends approximately US$400 million per annum on terrorists or their families in salaries and stipends for killing Jews in Israel. Paying terrorists is the top financial priority of the PA – as President Mahmoud Abbas colourfully declared, it is how they would spend their last penny.
Incidentally, Abbas who has completed 16 years of his 4-year term as President promises to hold elections this year. Polling shows convicted terrorist Marwan Barghouti, currently serving five life sentences in an Israeli jail for his role in leading the first and second intifadas, is the lead candidate to be the next PA President.
Arab Palestinian children are taught hatred of Israel and Jews and the glorification of martyrs – that those who die as terrorists are heroes. Posters of martyrs with words of praise are placed outside schools often named in their honour. Suicide bombers are held as successful role models. Students interviewed as they leave school grounds by investigative journalists have explained their lessons and their wish to murder Jews.
But terrorism is not the only problem in considering governance of a ‘State of Palestine’. Corruption is rampant. According to AMAN, a Palestinian anti-corruption body linked to Transparency International, almost 70 per cent of Palestinians believe that their government institutions are corrupt. Leaders of Hamas and the PA have massive personal wealth, widely regarded as having been accumulated by years of fleecing from the world’s highest per capita foreign aid.
Then what of human rights? Labor presents itself as a voice for the downtrodden, but not in this case. To be found out as homosexual in areas administered by Hamas or the PA may be a threat to life. In 2019, the PA banned activities of Al Qaws, an LGBT+ rights activist group which responded, ‘Al Qaws condemns the use of prosecution, intimidation and threats of arrest, be it by the police or members of society’. Similarly, women’s rights are oppressed. There is a high incidence of domestic violence including so-called Islamic honour attacks and killings. It is not unusual for Arab Palestinian women to run to Israeli authorities for safety. Other major human rights issues include the use and abuse of capital punishment, systematic torture and arbitrary arrest, and the repression of political opposition, dissent and free speech by Palestinian authorities, as highlighted by the Human Rights Watch Report in 2018.
Two Labor conference delegates, David Bliss on behalf of right-wing union the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association and former MP Michael Danby, sought to attach a set of preconditions to recognition of Palestine. Their proposal addressed cessation of terror funding, recognition of Israel and not advocating killing of Jews, holding free and fair elections, and allowing basic human rights. In an extraordinary move which Danby describes as ‘Stalinist thuggish tactics’, the motion which he seconded was removed without his knowledge and he was gagged, prevented from speaking in opposition to what remained – the unconditional recognition of a State of Palestine.
The gagging of Michael Danby is chilling. He has been an ALP member for 40 years, a Labor Member of Parliament for 19 years until his retirement at the last election, he is known as an active and respected member of the Jewish community and yes, a supporter of Israel. Do we have echoes of Jeremy Corbyn? Labor has not only shifted its policy in a Corbynist direction, but by gagging a prominent Jewish and Israel-supporting delegate, has adopted Corbynist tactics.
Some policy questions arise for the Labor power brokers who did this: Is there no concern in Labor regarding the Pay for Slay programme where murderers and terrorists are rewarded to kill Jews in Israel? Is there no concern in Labor in supporting a regime which kills homosexuals and suppresses women, including a high rate of so-called honour attacks and killings? Is there no concern in Labor that they embrace a regime using Nazi-style propaganda to incite hatred of Jews and to teach children to become terrorists? Is there no concern in Labor in supporting the establishment of a State whose leaders openly advocate an ideology of violent Islamic Jihad?
Now all reasonable people want peace. But as the Abraham Accords, the Trump-era normalisation agreements between Israel and UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, have clearly demonstrated, there is a pathway to peace which does not involve appeasement of terrorism.
Labor policy to recognise Palestine is retrograde. It has completely misjudged the Australian people on this issue. Regardless of one’s views of the rights and wrongs of complex conflicts in the Middle East, Australians will not support those who excuse terrorism and abuse of basic human rights. Labor has adopted a significant electoral liability.
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Dr David Adler is President of the Australian Jewish Association
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