Greens candidate slams Israel

Greens candidate for Kingsford Smith, James Macdonald.

GREENS candiate James Macdonald, in an electorate with a large portion of Jewish voters, told The AJN this week that “a Jewish homeland built on atrocities and exclusivity would be a disaster for human rights and justice”.

Macdonald, who is running in the eastern suburbs electorate of Kingsford Smith, which has more than 5000 Jews, said that Israel “seems unwilling to ameliorate its treatment of Palestinians, particularly children” and gave tacit support to the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

“In Gaza, the United Nations warned the situation would become uninhabitable by 2020, due to an Israeli blockade that has left nearly a third of Palestinian children under the age of five stunted due to malnutrition,” Macdonald said.

“In the West Bank, the occupation combined with the uninterrupted development of illegal settlements exposes Palestinians to violent religious extremists, and is steadily undermining the viability of any future Palestinian state.”

When asked if he supported the BDS campaign, he seemed to give tacit approval.

“I support nonviolent, democratic initiatives to achieve peace in the region.

“After the tragic failure of bad-faith negotiations, my personal hopes for a peaceful resolution rest with grassroots movements finding breakthroughs where governments have not.”

Responding to the question, “Do you believe Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish homeland?”, his answer was ambivalent.

“The Jewish link to the region cannot be denied – the history and sacred sites must be respected, and the appalling treatment of Jewish people internationally makes a homeland paramount,” he said, before adding, “However, the rights of Palestinians to live where they have for thousands of years should be similarly respected.

“A Jewish homeland built on atrocities and exclusivity would be a disaster for human rights and justice in the region.”

Executive Council of Australian Jewry executive director Peter Wertheim said Macdonald has indicated the extent to which the Greens policies on the conflict in the Middle East remain captive to its extreme left elements.

“It is hypocritical for Mr Macdonald to say that he respects the Jewish people’s connection to the land of Israel and right of self-determination and, in the next breath, to refuse to acknowledge that Israel is the state of the Jewish people, in exactly the same way that Italy is the state of the Italian people and Holland is the state of the Dutch people,” Wertheim said.

“Being democracies, this does not in any way prejudice the equal civil, religious and voting rights of minority communities.

“Unfortunately, Mr Macdonald is echoing the shallow and ill-considered views of his leader on these questions.”

Wertheim said that instead of basing his views on sensationalist and inaccurate media headlines, Macdonald would do well to visit Israel and experience firsthand its vibrancy and democracy, in the face of almost daily murderous threats to its people from Palestinian leaders and terrorist organisations.

“Israel should be judged by the same standards as any other democracy in comparable circumstances.”

Full election coverage in this week’s AJN.

JOSHUA LEVI