REES: Cruel game behind politicians’ rush to condemn anti-semitism 21May13 May 21, 2013

Editor’s Note: As we are unable for copyright reasons, to reproduce this article in full, we have selected the most pertinent points.  The rest of the article can be read if you have a subscription to The Australian.


by Stuart Rees     -      The Australian    -     21 May 2013

“ANTI-SEMITE!” “Racist!” “Despicable values!” “Should be sacked!”

I received these comments and accusations following an article by Christian Kerr in The Australian on May 14. He correctly quoted me saying Liberal MP Christopher Pyne’s support for the London Declaration against anti-Semitism was “populist”.

 . . .

My point was that the London Declaration against anti-Semitism is a consensus document. Politicians are applauded and often applaud themselves for signing it and take no risk in doing so. Pyne’s press release was a “pat myself on the back eulogy” and a gratuitous attack on the Palestinian-initiated Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions supporters whose campaign is seldom explained in mainstream media and easily depicted as controversial.

You can support both the London Declaration and the BDS campaign. However, that distinction is easily lost when individuals are demonised and Israel’s constant flouting of international law is deliberately diverted by discussion of other countries’ human rights abuses.

. . .

Kerr’s article was accompanied by an editorial headed “Strange way to promote peace” with the subheading, “Critics of Israel should turn their attention to Iran”. This implied that by criticising Israeli policies I was siding with Iran’s supreme leader, who was quoted as saying “any deal that accepted the Jewish state’s existence would leave a ‘cancerous tumour forever’ “.

This technique of deflecting attention from the cruel and illegal policies of Israel depends on misinformation. It is implied that if you support BDS you must be anti-Semitic and are therefore no different from Israel’s religious fanatic opponents. Guilty by association. Positions polarised.

Projects run by the Sydney Peace Foundation and the University of Sydney’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies include support for the struggle of indigenous West Papuans, advocacy for the vulnerable Tamils in Sri Lanka and criticism of capital punishment in Iran and Saudi Arabia. The centre also provides English classes for refugees on temporary protection visas.

It is false to suggest, as in The Australian’s editorial subheading, that we pay attention only to Israel. I have just returned from Paris, where the Sydney Peace Foundation honoured the widow of the late Stephane Hessel, a Jew, a survivor of the Holocaust, an architect of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, author of the bestseller Time for Outrage, a hero of the French Republic and an enthusiastic supporter of the BDS campaign.

. . .

The BDS campaign is grounded in international law and has nothing to do with anti-Semitism or delegitimising Israel. . .

There are other reasons for turning to BDS. Negotiation and diplomacy have produced nothing but the enlargement of settlements, the continued siege of Gaza and the absurd claim that a two-state solution is possible when the two sides are so imbalanced, economically, militarily and politically.

The peace process is a sham. . .

As for Slipper’s demand that it was outrageous that I was paid public money to explain and support BDS and that I should therefore be sacked, for the past 13 years I have been a volunteer at the centre and foundation.

I have not been paid any salary, nor claimed any expenses. . . .

Stuart Rees is a professor emeritus at the University of Sydney and the chairman of the Sydney Peace Foundation.


If you liked this article, please consider making a donation to Australians for Palestine by clicking on the PayPal link
Thank You.
Bookmark and Share

Add a Comment

required, use real name
required, will not be published
optional, your blog address