Parke slammed over ‘Israel lobby’ comments

Melissa Parke.

THE Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) has called on former Labor MP Melissa Parke to apologise for saying “It is not wrong to say the Israel lobby has excessive influence in the Australian political system”.

Parke, who was the only Labor MP to ever publicly advocate for the anti-Israel boycott movement during her time in federal parliament from 2007 to 2016, made the comments at a pro-Palestinian rally in Perth last month.

According to WAtoday, Parke told the crowd she was forced to withdraw as Labor’s candidate for the Perth seaside electorate of Curtin “because of the media storm around previous statements I’ve made about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians”.

She said she stood by the statements.

“There was an ongoing campaign against me and against the party that would have gone on continuously during the federal election campaign had I not resigned,” she said.

Denying she was antisemitic, Parke said, “It is not wrong to say the Israel lobby has excessive influence in the Australian political system assisted by powerful media operators. Look at how I was removed from the election campaign.”

ECAJ co-CEO Peter Wertheim said Parke should withdraw her comments and apologise. 

“How ironic that Ms Parke should give voice to these all-too-familiar conspiracy theories on the very day that Australia became a full member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA),” Wertheim told The AJN.

“The IHRA has a working definition of antisemitism that includes ‘making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions’.”

He continued, “It does not seem to have occurred to Ms Parke that many people agree with us about various issues because of the merits of our arguments, not because of some imaginary conspiracy or undue influence.   

“Whether she is aware of it or not, these sorts of outrageous allegations, where no supporting evidence has been produced, send a signal that expressions of racism, including antisemitism, are acceptable in our society, and thereby open the door to racially-motivated violence.”

At the same rally, an unidentified member of the crowd accused her of “caving in to Zionist arseholes” and said “you have to f—ing wipe them out”.

Parke told WAtoday that she did not hear the heckler, saying, “I don’t support that kind of language at all.”

GARETH NARUNSKY