Building Greens relationship

Jamie Parker (right) with Rabbi Mendel Kastel at the NSW Parliament Chanukah event in 2016. Photo: Shane Desiatnik

THE NSW Greens will host representatives from the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBOD) at a lunch at NSW Parliament House later this month.

It follows a lunch in late February to which JBOD invited senior Greens including Balmain MP Jamie Parker and Member of the Legislative Council David Shoebridge.

“We had a constructive meeting with four leaders of the NSW Greens in which a number of issues were openly discussed, including the tension which has marred relations between the party and the community over the years,” JBOD president Lesli Berger said.

“We agreed to reconvene after the state election and to continue the dialogue.”

Parker told The AJN he looked forward to continuing the discussions.

“This is about actually more direct engagement with the board itself,” he said.

“We agree on so many issues and share so many similar values that I think there is very positive opportunity for us to work together.”

He cited environmental issues and social issues including refugees as areas where there are commonalities.

“I think there is an opportunity for us to deepen and strengthen our relationship and then build on areas that we can work on,” he said.

Earlier in February, The Australian ran an article highlighting the strained relationship between the Greens and the NSW Jewish community. JBOD CEO Vic Alhadeff said he was unaware the Greens had accepted an invitation to meet when he spoke to journalist Janet Albrechtsen.

Parker said of the article, “It’s better that we talk to each other in a really open and frank way, rather than have these issues played out via proxies in the media.

“It’s important that our relationship is strong enough and our friendship is strong enough that we can raise difficult issues.”

He also lamented the absence of direct communication following the decision of the NSW Young Greens not to attend an Australasian Union of Jewish Students seminar in 2017.

“That is an example of where strong relationships exist, there are opportunities to be able to address potential communication problems or misunderstanding,” he said.

“It means people can just pick up the phone and talk to each other.”

On the issue that is seen as the biggest wedge between the community and the party – Israel – Parker said, “We support a two-state solution, we support peace and security for both the Palestinian people and the Jewish people.

“We think that obviously the focus should be on issues in our community, but we are always keen to talk to the board about perspectives on Israel.”

GARETH NARUNSKY