Dr Nick Shimmin (NSW) writes to all members of parliament re Palestine’s UNESCO membership 2Nov11 November 2, 2011

To All ALP Members of Parliament

Dear Member

I wake this morning to hear once more, with dismay, of the craven obeisance of the Australian Labor government to the wishes of the United States in voting against the recognition of Palestine at UNESCO.  At least a vast majority of other member nations were not so pathetic and self-interested, and voted to recognise and hopefully speed an end to some of the most heinous human rights abuses currently being perpetrated in our name.
I spent 10 days in the West Bank earlier this year, and as one of (very) few Australians who has thus witnessed first hand the nature of the oppression and discrimination being inflicted on the Palestinian people, I find it incumbent to inform as many people as possible of the actual situation in the Occupied Territories.  Naturally this includes informing Australian voters of the disgraceful track record of the Australian Labor Party in backing every policy and opinion of the Israeli government.
The ALP is in sufficient trouble without further alienating what is a core constituency, those informed and decent people who regard human rights as pre-eminent in the conduct of its foreign policy.  Especially those ALP members currently holding marginal inner city electorates in Australia should be aware that such policy decisions as that enacted overnight at the UN force all thinking Australian voters to direct their attention to the only party with a principled policy position on Palestine, the Greens, whatever misgivings we may have about other aspects of their policy-making.
I have recently given a presentation to a group of interested Australians about my trip to the West Bank.  I would be very happy to give a similar presentation to ALP members and anyone else who is interested in what is really happening in Israel.  It might offer some balance to the views proffered to those ALP members who are so quick to accept Israeli-government sponsored junkets to the Middle East.

Regardless, I hope some realistic understanding of the oppressive policies of the Israeli government might inform future ALP decision making, and that voters interested in human rights will be able to look to the ALP once more as a party who can be trusted to defend the rights of suffering people around the world.
With the release of Gilad Shalit (and his subsequent call for peace and reconciliation), the ALP could begin with one small step and push Israel to lift its illegal blockade of Gaza.

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