21 June 2013

Australian Greens Party: fringe numbats, conspiracists and enemies of the truth

From The Australian Editorial, 21 June 2013:
EVEN if Fredrick Toben is right, and the murder of six million Jews is a fable pushed by "Holocaust racketeers, the corpse peddlers and the Shoah business merchants", it would do nothing to solve the moral bankruptcy of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.
It would suit the extreme pro-Palestinian argument if the founders of Israel were the oppressors rather than the oppressed, and if the foundation of a Zionist state was indeed an act of imperial aggression, rather than a recognition by the international community that the Jewish people had been wandering too long.
Dr Toben, however, is wrong. He is perversely, empirically and offensively wrong. Through gritted teeth, we defend his right to state his case. Nonetheless, no reasonable person acquainted with the facts would give him the time of day.
The bounds of reasonableness, however, rarely trouble the BDS movement, where actions range between the crass and the repugnant. When BDS supporters punish Israel by picketing Australian chocolate shops owned by a Jewish businessman, their absurdity invites us to laugh. Yet when they call for the severing of ties between Australian and Israeli academics and the banning of Israeli books, the ugly, illiberal and frightening face of BDS is revealed for all to see. Understandably, some conclude that Israel is only collateral damage for the BDS movement. Its real target is the Jews.
By flirting with BDS, the Greens forfeit the right to be considered a mainstream party.
It demonstrates a preference for the company of the numbats and conspiracists in the dark and dangerous fringelands. Until the party disentangles itself, forcefully and unambiguously, from the BDS movement and those who would see a democratic, sovereign nation wiped from the map, its chances of being taken seriously are zero.
Now we learn that NSW Greens MLC David Shoebridge asked Dr Toben to join the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Palestine for a cruise on Sydney Harbour. Mr Shoebridge says it was all a terrible mistake. Dr Toben has since been divested, as it were, from the guest list. He may be right. Who among us has not occasionally pressed "send" in error? But why was Dr Toben's name on a list of potential invitees at all? It is one thing to be a friend of Palestine, but quite another to be an enemy of the truth.

For further background see this, from The Australian, June 20, 2013 by Christian Kerr:

AUSTRALIA'S most notorious Holocaust denier was invited by a NSW Greens MP to join a boat trip on Sydney Harbour last month to raise funds for Gaza.   
Greens MLC David Shoebridge invited Fredrick Toben - who served prison time for Holocaust denial in Germany in the 1990s and in Australia last decade for contempt of court after breaching an order to refrain from publishing material on his website vilifying Jews - to the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Palestine event.
...Emails provided to The Australian by Dr Toben show broader contact.
Dr Toben emailed Mr Shoebridge following an incident in March when upper house debate on a motion reporting on a study trip to Israel by a delegation of NSW parliamentarians, organised by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, was hijacked by pro-Palestinian MPs to attack Israel.
Mr Shoebridge's office emailed Dr Toben a link to his speech on March 25.
"Many, many thanks, Mark - and all the very best to David - and I do hope there will not be a bending to Jewish pressure after this courageous stance!" Dr Toben said in a return email the same day.
"Definitely not," came a response from Mr Shoebridge's office two days later.
Dr Toben was invited to the "Sail with us in solidarity" fundraiser organised by the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Palestine, co-chaired by Mr Shoebridge and Labor MLC Lynda Voltz, on April 3.
"There was never any intention to invite Mr Toben to the event," Mr Shoebridge said yesterday.
"Mr Toben was inadvertently invited to the event via an automated email. Once we realised who he was - namely a Holocaust denier - we withdrew the invitation ..."
Emails between Mr Shoebridge's office and Dr Toben show it took some time for the realisation to hit.
Dr Toben asked in an email on Monday, April 8: "Do you still have a spot for me on that harbor cruise? If so, then I shall book a return flight from Adelaide to Sydney and join the cruise on 2 May."
A response came the following day. "Hi Frederick. Yes there are still spaces available. It would be good to see you there. Mark for David."
On Wednesday, April 10, though, the invitation was withdrawn. "Hi Frederick, I'm afraid we're going to have to rescind our invitation to this event. I have been informed that, based on your past actions and views, your presence will likely offend a number of guests who we work with frequently. Apologies for any inconvenience. Mark for David."
...Peter Wertheim, director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and a solicitor for [Mr Jeremy Jones of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council in a legal] action against Dr Toben, added:
"Whatever Shoebridge's personal views may be, the time has surely arrived for the leaders of the anti-Israel movement to ask themselves some serious questions about what it is about their campaign that repeatedly attracts outpourings of gross anti-Jewish hatred, both online and in other public contexts, and the enthusiastic support of an avowed Holocaust denier."