Today Abigail spoke on the need to stand in solidarity with the movement to boycott, divest and sanction the Israeli Government.
Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (17:08):
In December 2021 a coalition of Arab artists, solidarity groups and Arab and Jewish organisations requested that the Sydney Festival board decline Israeli government sponsorship or face a withdrawal of artists who could not perform under the logo of the State of Israel.
Subsequent to Sydney Festival continuing to accept Israeli Government sponsorship, over 40 acts withdrew from the 2022 Sydney Festival. The actions of the artists who withdrew from the festival are consistent with the global campaign that played a significant part in ending apartheid in South Africa. I am proud to be a member of a political party that not only stands firmly against antisemitic behaviour but also recognises the complexities of the Palestine-Israel conflict, and I will always stand up for international human rights. We also recognise the fundamental right of artists to withdraw their labour in opposition to Israel's apartheid practices and in support of human rights in Palestine.
Last month The Greens NSW State Delegates Council unanimously passed a resolution in the following terms: First, to express our solidarity with the artists who withdrew from the 2022 Sydney Festival because of its sponsorship by the State of Israel; secondly, to condemn as undemocratic and punitive motions of the kind put forward by the Hon. Mark Latham, which echo a recent proposal by the Opposition; thirdly, to support the right of all people to engage in boycotts and acknowledge Australia's history of cultural, sporting and labour movement boycotts as a legitimate, non-violent political expression in support of human rights and environmental causes; and fourthly, to demand that all cultural and sporting institutions in New South Wales adopt ethical and transparent sponsorship policies for events that they receive government funding for.
To criticise the actions of the Israeli Government is not antisemitic; in the same way that criticism of the Pope is not a criticism of all Catholics, nor is criticism of the Australian Government discriminatory against Australian citizens. We can and should legitimately criticise the actions of any government that is acting in violation of human rights. Boycotts, divestments and sanctions [BDS] continue to be an effective way to pressure governments to change. This motion, and the reactionary narrative that it is riffing off, is an attempt to silence those who are concerned about human rights violations by accusing them of antisemitism. The people claiming that the BDS movement is antisemitic have co-opted the very real concerns about antisemitism that Jewish Australians have in relation to the far right, and they try to use it as a weapon to silence the progressive left.
They do not hurt me, The Greens or those who are working tirelessly to establish peace in Gaza with that sort of behaviour. They hurt Jewish Australians who are looking for a thoughtful and considered approach to tackling the real and growing threat of antisemitism and neo-Nazism—people who have, for generation after generation, been subjected to thousands of years of persecution. It does no-one in this Chamber any credit to support this blatant and negligent politicking. We oppose the motion.
You can find the full transcript on Hansard, here.