LABOR frontbencher Tony Burke has pulled out at the last minute from giving an address to the inaugural general meeting of the lobby group Labor for Palestine, after learning that the organiser of the event supported boycotts and armed conflict against Israel.
Hours after telling The Australian that Mr Burke would give the speech at Lakemba in Sydney’s west tonight, a spokesman for the member for Watson in Sydney’s southwest said there was uncertainty about whether the event was going ahead. “Tony is not attending,” the spokesman said.
The decision came after The Australian highlighted the fact that the contact person for the event was Fahad Ali, a medical student at Sydney University who has been known as a leader of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel and lauded by prominent pro-BDS academic Jake Lynch.
Mr Ali last night confirmed Mr Burke had cancelled his speech after the revelations provided to his office by The Australian, but said he would proceed with the event anyway.
He said he did not support an immediate campaign of violence against Israel, and did not condone the rocket attacks by Hamas, but did support what he said was the right of Palestinians to “self-defence” and “armed resistance”.
Mr Burke’s spokesman said the frontbencher supported a two-state outcome pursued through peaceful means.
Mr Ali recently appeared on his Facebook page under a flag of a terrorist group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The PFLP is not proscribed in Australia but is on the list of terrorist organisations against which Australia imposes financial sanctions under a UN Security Council resolution.