Supporting Palestinian rights makes you “anti-Israel”

This weekend I’m speaking at the Sydney Palestine conference organised by the Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine. I’m talking about the Arab revolutions and their effect on Palestine, the myopic Australian Jewish community and the media’s inability to speak honestly about Palestinians (I’m looking at you, Murdoch press, who seem to believe that they have to wear a mask before engaging with Palestinians).

Today’s Australian features another non-story about Greens NSW-Senator elect Lee Rhiannon for (gasp!) speaking at the conference. I guess that makes her a rabid anti-Semite who simply believes in peace in the Middle East.

Greens senator-elect Lee Rhiannon has again been accused of pushing an anti-Israel agenda after accepting an invitation to speak at a “Palestine solidarity” conference, while the Senate yesterday condemned the Greens’ support of a boycott against the Jewish state.

Opposition senator Eric Abetz successfully moved a motion raising concerns about the Greens, Labor and union support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel after Marrickville council’s brief adoption of the policy. “The Senate condemned those in the Labor Party, the Greens and unions who are supporting the BDS campaign against Israel,” Senator Abetz said.

The motion led to some fiery discussion, and Greens leader Bob Brown called on the Senate to spend an entire day debating the violence in the Middle East and finding ways to help people in the region.

Ms Rhiannon’s invitation to a two-day conference at the University of Technology Sydney, organised by the Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine, is promoted as a forum for discussing “how to make Australian solidarity with Palestinian self-determination more effective”.

“Now that campaigns to isolate Israel are front-page news, the conference is designed to re-focus on the core rights of Palestinians: national freedom, equality, democracy, land, peace and the end of exile of the refugees,” said one of the event’s co-ordinators, Ken Davis.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff slammed Ms Rhiannon’s involvement with the forum, which he described as “an activist conference lacking any hint of balance or academic integrity on a divisive and complex issue”.

Ms Rhiannon, who will take up her Senate spot when the Greens gain the balance of power on July 1, earned a rebuke from Senator Brown last month over her support for the campaign to boycott Israel.

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