23 December 2016

An open letter to Australian Labor "Friends of Palestine"

From Luke Walladge, a (very) active and leading member of the Australian Labor Party:

Dear Labor Friends of Palestine, 

As a long-time supporter of Israel, inside and outside the ALP, I received your recent pamphlet with some disquiet. But having read it closely I must admit to having been wrong, entirely wrong, and I feel I must now make amends for my errors. 

You see, I had always assumed the supporters of the Palestinian cause to be well-intentioned (if misguided) social democrats and left-wingers who confused poverty and disadvantage with moral righteousness. A bit like those trade unionists at United Voice who preface every policy speech with "we represent the lowest paid workers in Australia" as if that were cause for pride instead of shame. I assumed most pro-Palestinian people bought a simplistic and error-riddled narrative about Israeli oppression and heroic resistance and just wanted to Do The Right Thing. 

But I was wrong. And I will make amends. 

Your recent tract "So You're Going To Israeli" is such a vile, fraudulent, racist, biased piece of propaganda that it can only be indicative of something much darker, much older, much more sinister. To be so knowingly and repetitively wrong, to blatantly misrepresent the truth so often, to use such anti-Jewish tropes so cavalierly can only result from a deep well of our civilisation oldest prejudice. 

You are a pack of anti-Semites. And you should be ashamed, and I was wrong about you, and I'm going to make amends. 

You are not Friends of Palestine. You are enemies of Israel and and you are enemies of Israel because you have given in to anti-Semitism. 

If you were Friends of Palestine you would ask why, despite receiving more international aid per head than any other people group on earth, Arabs living in the West Bank and Gaza are destitute while their leadership flies Lear jets and live in Paris mansions. You would ask Egypt why they have built a wall between that country and Gaza, through nothing passes - instead of asking why Israel has checkpoints and naval searches of cargo through which all legitimate goods may pass. You would ask why the Palestinian leadership holds no elections for its people, why they place rocket launchers in their houses and their schools and their hospitals to create human shields for civilian-killing weaponry, why they inculcate innocent children into philosophies of hate and death that produce suicide bombers and knife attackers. 

But you are not Friends of Palestine. You are, instead, friends of those who enslave and oppress and misguide and exploit the Palestinian people. You are Friends of terrorists. You are Friends of those who's goal is not the liberation of Palestinians but the extinction of Jews. And you are enemies of Israel and blame all the ills of the region on the only Jewish state in the world. 

You use the Israeli Prime Minister's Hebrew name, Binjamin, in an attempt to make him seem less normal, and, well, Jewish. 

You say that Jewish organisations will not fund trips to places like Hebron and Bethlehem when in fact they do, they really do, I have been there and you are lying. 

You misquote people and torture data in your booklet to distort the situation in the Middle East and hold the Jewish state responsible. 

You use anti-Semitic tropes of rich Jews and shadowy Jewish organisations to create an image of deception around visiting Israel. 

You lie, lie and lie again, so often and so cunningly and so blatantly that it cannot be an accident, it can only be your intent. 

So from now on I will not be misled about your organisation and its goals any longer. I will make amends for my previous errors by resisting you to the absolute fullest extent of my capacities. 

This is an open letter; unlike your organisation I hide neither my motives, nor my methods, nor my associations. I sign my letters while you publish your blogs and your pamphlets and your propaganda anonymously. 

I am ashamed to share membership of the same Party as you. 

But I will not allow you to poison the wells of the last, best hope of social democracy in this nation with your racist, anti-Semitic stench. 

I was wrong. But I'm not wrong any more. 

You are. 

Luke Walladge 

[Luke Walladge is a former Senate staffer, and currently runs his own political consultancy.]