-Arab Australia Magazine
Accusations of anti-Semitism should not shield Israel from criticism
In his adjournment speech, NSW Upper House Labor MP Shaoquett Moselmane explains why an anti-Palestinianism statement is
Members of State and Federal parliaments would have recently received the Sydney Statement on Anti-Palestinianism, a document put together by the Arab Australian Federation in consultation with leading community figures and renowned Australian advocates for Palestine from diverse backgrounds.
The statement is in response to the incessant violations by Israel, a colonialist settler State, of the Palestinian people’s human, political, economic and national rights under international law — including their right to self-determination and nationhood. This statement combatting Anti-Palestinianism quotes nonviolent means and international law and is based on “a just and lasting peace between the parties”. Former foreign minister Gareth Evans said of this Sydney Statement, “Its eight principles are all expressed with restraint, seem to me unarguable and are consistent with the ALP’s support for Palestinian statehood.”
The statement is necessitated by decades of discrimination against and dehumanisation of the Palestinian people. Blatant prejudice is evident when Palestinians engaged in a peaceful pursuit of nationhood are depicted as terrorists, stigmatised on religious or ethnic grounds, or characterised as an inferior people. Anti‑Palestinian prejudice can also target media, institutions, students and academics if they criticise Israel or sympathise with the Palestinian people.
Anti-Palestinianism refers to a language and practice that directs discrimination, racism, hatred or violence against the Palestinian people. This abuse can be verbal, explicit or implied, or reflected in violence. At its worst it denies the existence of the Palestinian people, an erasure that facilitates the perpetuation of violence against them and the denial of their right to self-determination.
Accusations of anti-Semitism should not be used to shield Israel from criticisms of its oppression of Palestinian people and its defiance of international law. Often the strongest supporters of Palestinians are reflective and liberal Jewish people. Peter Beinart, the editor of the US publication Jewish Currents, has written:
“… since pro-Israel organisations in the US have made it nearly impossible to discuss Israel-Palestine without addressing questions of anti-Jewish bigotry, Americans of all backgrounds have a responsibility to ask why even
blatant expressions of anti-Palestinian bigotry pass almost unnoticed.”
To counter rising anti-Palestinianism, there are eight principles.
First, anti-Palestinianism exists when Palestinian people are denied rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all other relevant instruments of international law, including United Nations [UN] resolutions.
Secondly, the Palestinian people are entitled to their own State. The Palestinian state is consistent with international law, UN resolutions and over 30 years of international negotiations. This is reflected in the recognition of the State of Palestine by 139 member nations of the UN. Anti‑Palestinianism is flagrant when this right is undermined by settlements and acts of annexation, both of which are illegal under international law.
Thirdly, Palestinians who have committed to non-violent means to nationhood are entitled to all legitimate means of protest and advocacy. Palestinian leaders deserve respect and engagement, not isolation and boycott.
Fourthly, as part of the international community, the Palestinian people have an inalienable right to membership of international organisations in line with these organisations’ by-laws, including but not limited to the International Criminal Court, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Interpol, the International Court of Justice and others.
Fifthly, Palestinians have the right, in accordance with international law, to engage in resistance against unlawful policies and practices of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. They are entitled to present to the world their case, supported by evidence and legal argument, that Israeli authorities have dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated, evicted and subjugated the Palestinian people.
Sixthly, noting the UN’s recognition of the State of Israel in 1949 was conditional on Israel’s acceptance of the right of return — resolution 194, article 11 — Palestinians are entitled to advocate their right of return as part of a just and lasting peace between the parties.
Seventhly, Palestinians have a right to their history, including their right to commemorate Nakba Day, and this must never, in any way, be denied to them.
Finally, international law brands collective punishment a war crime. When a Palestinian is arrested or convicted of an offence by
Israeli authorities, there is no basis for Israel subjecting others to collective punishment.