FEDERAL Greens leader Senator Christine Milne has reiterated her party’s support for Israel’s sovereignty after the NSW Young Greens posted a poll on Facebook questioning whether the Jewish State should exist or not.
The poll, posted last Thursday – but which has since been taken down – asked users if they “believe that Israel has a right to exist”, to which they could select either “No, I believe in the rights and sovereignty of Palestine” or “Yes, I support the creation and continuance of the state of Israel”.
Asked for comment, Senator Milne told The AJN that the Australian Greens resolution on Israel-Palestine contained the clause, “[The Australian Greens] support the legitimate rights and aspirations of the Israeli people to live in peace and security in their own independent, sovereign state.”
However, a posting by the page admin in the comments stream under the poll stated that “the Greens is also not an authoritarian party. We are free to disagree with our party leader because it fosters debate. Leaders aren’t always right”.
NSW Upper House Greens MP David Shoebridge, an outspoken critic of Israel, said he was “very pleased” to see that the question, which “raised a false dichotomy” between the rights of Israelis and Palestinians, had been removed.
“Greens policy is very clear that Israel has the right to exist, alongside Palestine, in safe and secure UN mandated borders,” he said.
But Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) executive director Peter Wertheim said although Greens policy accepts Israel’s right to exist, “they continue to be embarrassed by extremists in their own ranks, including some of their MPs, who are fixated on singling out Israel, among all the nations of the world, as a target of hatred and demonisation”.
“Regardless of their personal views, their activities and rhetoric have time and again been magnets for gross expressions of anti-Semitism, both online and in public forums,” he said. “The Greens as a party have a choice to make … They can speak and act as a party with mainstream voter appeal, or they can pander to the radical fringe of politics. With a federal election fast approaching, they can no longer do both.”
An admin comment on the Facebook page attempted to justify the poll: “The main purpose of facebook questions is to illicite (sic) reponses (sic), debate and hopefully growth towards different viewpoints. The question is loaded, we acknowledge that but let me reiterate once again. this isn’t about jewish (sic) people. it’s about Israel.”
NSW Young Greens convenor Evan Gray told The AJN: “We posted a poll not to advocate policy but to encourage discussion – unfortunately the discussion we expected did not occur and so we removed the poll.”
A screenshot of the poll, which was removed.