Many will know that I have an issue with the Tweed Echo, an openly aligned Australian Greens "independent" newspaper distributed in the Tweed Valley of northern NSW (where I live), with an internet offshoot, that in the past has had some difficulty masking the anti-Israel obsession that has come to characterise and define that side of Australian politics. Should there be any doubt about that you need only attempt to question the Greens on their policy on whether Israel has a right to exist. They are agnostic. As shameful and disgusting as it is, Australia has a political party that refuses to acknowledge that the Jewish state is not only a legitimate expression of Jewish nationhood born of a hard fought national liberation movement but even refuses to accept that the country and the Jews have a right to be left in peace. The Australian Greens refuses to oppose war and the open threats of genocide and instead apes the ugly rants of the rat bag nasty left and their Islamist and other fascist allies.
About a year ago I wrote a letter to this paper in response to some pretty cranky stuff they published even by the Australian Greens standards. Elsewhere I provided a preface:
A nasty Echo from the past
In the Tweed and Byron Shires there are a lot of Greens. They are everywhere. They are like blowflies at a Barcaldine barbeque. They even have their own newspaper, the Echo. It is the only openly politically aligned newspaper around. While one can respect their industry they show all the hallmarks of their party, including a marked intellectual cowardice. Like most Greens, they are right wing, to the point of reactionary, masquerading as progressives. They campaign against everything. Every now and then their campaigns spill over into something very ugly indeed.
The paper had published an openly antisemitic letter , just in time for the annual Byron Blues Fest. The usual grubby and odious muck. Here's an extract:
"No question of debating the issues, just a tirade of abuse and slander against those who feel strongly enough to take a stand for the human rights of the Palestinian people.At the time I let it pass. As you do. You would go mad if you tried to respond to this hateful filth every time it pops up.
"This is the usual Zionist propaganda onslaught which sets out to crush and silence all opposition both within Israel and the shrinking West Bank and elsewhere in the world.
"The problem is not one of anti-Semitism but one of aggressive, nationalistic, expansionist Zionism. You do not have to be Jewish to be a Zionist. President Woodrow Wilson, a devout Presbyterian, was also a self-professed Zionist, so too is US Vice President Joe Biden. Zionists wrote the Balfour document."
Not content with the the paper decided to put on display its "non-anti-Semitic but anti- Zionist" credentials by publishing this choice little editorial titbit. I reproduce it in full.
"An Australian delegation will join the international Freedom Flotilla 2, which will set sail next month to break the blockade of Gaza and end Israel’s illegal collective punishment of the people of Gaza. The Australian contingent includes Sylvia Hale, former Greens member of the NSW Parliament, Vivienne Porzsolt of Jews Against the Occupation, Alex Whisson of Australians for Palestine, and youth worker Michael Coleman. The boats will carry humanitarian aid and medical supplies. Our experience with the pro-Israel lobby suggests that the delegation will be accused of anti-semitism, along with Backburner for reporting it."Excuse me while I vomit.
So here is the letter I sent them.
Your nasty little sneer about the "pro-Israel lobby", and your complaint about "accusations of antisemitism", pretty much sum up the main reason why your party, the Greens, has no place in mainstream Australian politics.
You complain about your "experience with the pro-Israel lobby". Given that you have never published anything that could be remotely described as "pro-Israel", it can only be that you never publish opinions that differ from yours or the "experience" you claim is very limited indeed. None at all. What is your problem? "They" can't be bothered with you? Who do you mean by this "lobby" anyway? Israel is solidly supported by every major political party in our country. As you would expect from a liberal democracy for the only liberal democracy in the Middle East and the only state there that provides and guarantees full political and civil rights for Arabs. Only some of your party's candidates and some of "One Nation"'s attack Israel so obsessively.Why? If by the "pro-Israel lobby", you mean Australian Jews, then say so. We need to know. About you. Not them.
Your complaint about allegations of antisemitism is absurd. I don't believe you. Some years ago I issued a challenge on Margo Kingston's Webdiary site, that would be famous in part of your paper's core market. Webdiary, I mean. The challenge was to produce a single example of someone serious, seriously suggesting that criticism of Israeli policy, or government, was of itself antisemitism. No takers. A few attempts but no cigars. Not one. It's been over five years now.
The opposite is the truth. It is impossible to defend Israel, and the democratic secular Zionist principles that underpin it, without being accused of racism. Sooner or later it always happens. Always. It is also true that much of the incessant attacks on Israel, especially from the political extremes, and from militant Islamism, is driven by antisemitism. This cannot be honestly denied. It is everywhere.
I said then how ubiquitous your whiny complaint was. "Anybody who criticises Israel risks being labelled an antisemite". Rubbish. A lie. Produce an example. Just one will do. This lie was intended to intimidate or pre-empt those who seek to defend Israel especially against its harshest critics. Nothing has changed.
The situation in Gaza can be summed up in a sentence. Israel has the stark choice of either attempting a military blockade or simply allowing Hamas to become as lethally armed as Hezbollah. Gaza is an Iranian colony ruled by a subsidiary of the Muslim Brotherhood. Their grievance with Israel has nothing at all to do with "occupation". Gaza is not "occupied". Their grievance has everything to do with the fact that Israel is free, liberal and democratic and, above all, with the fact that Israel is the Jewish state. They say so again and again.
Nor do I accept that for you this is about the "Palestinians". The old hard left that now control your party in this state does not give a rat's arse about the Palestinians. They never have and they have been around for a long time. If they gave a damn at all they would be hollering from the rooftops for the liberation of these tragic people from the death grip of Hamas. For them, this is not about the Palestinians at all. Even less is it about the millions of people from Tunisia to Syria and beyond right now risking their lives in a desperate brave struggle for some of those freedoms that Israeli Arabs enjoy as of right and have for decades. For the old hard left, this is about something else entirely.
It is an outrage that your party sought to impose BDS sanctions on Israel, as part of a global campaign aimed at the destruction of the Jewish state, almost as soon as it took effective control of a Sydney council. I can think of no clearer example of abuse of elected office at local government level. I will be publicly asking Greens candidates, especially any standing for re-election in the Tweed Shire, precisely what her position on BDS is. I will do this in an open detailed letter that I will copy you and other local press. If the Greens want this argument then I for one will be happy to oblige.
And what happened? You know what happened. The Echo declined to publish the letter. This is how they demonstrate their commitment to free speech and debate.
But today, almost exactly one year later, they did publish this letter.