ALP should be ‘ashamed of Parke’

Melissa Parke.

FEDERAL Labor MP Melissa Parke needs to be “pulled into line” after she signed a petition calling on the United Nations Security Council to place sanctions on Israel, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) says.

The petition calls on the Security Council to “impose economic and political sanctions on Israel until it lifts the siege [of Gaza]”, with no mention of Hamas terror or that Egypt also blockades the strip.

An accompanying letter sent to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon places all the blame for civilian deaths during last year’s Israel–Hamas conflict on the Jewish state, again with no mention of Hamas.

The petition has been signed by infamous anti-Israel activists including former British MP George Galloway, activist Greta Berlin and former UN investigator Richard Falk.

ECAJ executive director Peter Wertheim said it was “disgraceful” to see a member of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) join with such figures to call for UN sanctions.

“Not even the most notoriously anti-Israel MPs in the Greens, like Lee Rhiannon, have gone that far,” he said. “Galloway has called for the city of Bradford to be a ‘Zionist-free zone’, making it clear that that would exclude the vast majority of the Jewish community. Greta Berlin gained infamy for her grossly offensive and patently anti-Semitic remarks about the Holocaust [she shared a video called Zionists ran the Holocaust and Concentration Camps], which were condemned even by BDS leader, Ali Abuminah.”

He continued: “One can only hope that Parke’s latest act of hate against Israel is not a portent of what we can expect to see and hear at the upcoming ALP national conference. The sensible voices in the ALP leadership need to pull her into line before her recklessness damages the whole party.”

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) executive director Colin Rubenstein said Parke “embarrassed herself and her party by signing the petition which she should have rejected for three reasons – the concept, the content and the company it put her in”.

“It was crude, simplistic Israel-bashing and while she personally may not feel ashamed to be party to it, her party should be ashamed by her action,” he said.

Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) president Danny Lamm said: “The guilty party is not Israel, but Hamas that triggered last year’s conflict by firing rockets into Israel in pursuit of destroying the Jewish state. It’s a disgrace that an ALP Member of Parliament should affix her signature to such drivel.”

Asked by The AJN if she was concerned to put her name to the petition, Parke, who has been a vocal critic of Israel, said she “continued to support peace between Israel and Palestine and to criticise violence on all sides”.

“The business as usual approach has failed. The tit-for-tat approach has failed,” she said. “Rocket attacks by Hamas are indefensible, but so too are the oppressive policies and disproportionately violent responses of the Israeli government.”

Asked to condemn Parke’s action, a spokesperson for Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said only that Labor was opposed to boycotts and that “the only way forward is for both parties to immediately return to direct negotiations and resolve final status issues as soon as possible”.

GARETH NARUNSKY