Category Archives: Israel

Trying to neuter the Greens’ left

It’s no secret that News Ltd wants to “destroy” the Greens. This morning’s Weekend Australian follows yesterday’s outright lies by David Penberthy with an all-out series of attacks on the party (you could go through line by line picking out the exaggerations, half-truths and misrepresentations), basically attempting to portray Lee Rhiannon’s support of a boycott of Israel as “racist” and “bigoted” and, and this is the thing I wanted to comment on here, “the Hard Left”.

Now, I’m a lefty – and I’m a lefty because I believe in, at core:

  • public services over tax cuts; and
  • human rights over profit.

These perspectives are generally referred to as “Left”. (If you’ve got a better name, I’d like to hear it.) I’m an advocate for the Greens for those reasons, not the environmental aspects of the party. As a voter and supporter, you could call me part of the Greens’ “left”.

But News Ltd – and, mystifyingly, the ALP – seems to be trying to redefine the political term “Left” to mean “racist”. The whole attack on the Greens being “taken over” by a “left” that is “extreme” is premised on Rhiannon supporting the Israel boycott – The Australian, naturally, doesn’t publish a single explanation or argument by those in favour of that policy, so readers (including me) are left in the dark on the rationale behind it* – in contrast with the “not so bad” environmentalists in the party.

Why would News Ltd be trying to work so hard to destroy the “Left”? It’s not like it’s suddenly doing it because it’s outraged by this BDS policy – its antipathy existed well before that. The BDS thing is a means of attacking the Left, not the reason for it.

Well, I suspect News Ltd’s real problem with the Greens is people like me – people who support better opportunities and services for the vast bulk of the Australian population, at the expense of the privileged like their proprietor. So they use fringe issues like this – and a local council’s boycott of Israel to send a message that they want it to reform its treatment of the Palestinians within its borders is hardly a core policy of the Australian Greens, but nor is it the madness The Australian is pretending it is – to attack us, and try to get the party to move back to a stance that’s less threatening to their interests.

The ALP and the Coalition are, to a large extent, house-trained by the nation’s corporations and most powerful people. The Greens aren’t.

And clearly that’s what’s behind News Ltd’s campaign to “destroy” (or at least neuter) them. Because they don’t want to see real change, real social and economic equity, and the Greens are the only party in parliament genuinely committed to that. It’s hardly surprising that those on top right now will do anything in their power to keep in that way – or that they’ll happily utilise every dirty trick in the book to do it.

*News Ltd’s strategy here seems to be to train its readers not to even ask what the Greens’ rationale for a policy is. By constantly calling them “extreme” and twisting their suggestions in as one-sided a fashion as possible, never giving them a chance to explain themselves, readers are trained to just assume that there is no explanation or rationale. The Greens are crazy because their policies make no sense, and their policies make no sense because I never see the other side which I assume isn’t there because the Greens are crazy. Repeat.

UPDATE: The other thing to note is how they turn a proposed boycott of Israel into “anti-Semitism”. That doesn’t make any sense unless you claim – dishonestly – that the Greens don’t care about other human rights abusers, and that they’re only picking on Israel because it’s full of JEWS and they must therefore HATE JEWS. (Which only works if you have a particularly gullible audience who don’t actually know any Greens.)

Anyone who’s watched the Greens seriously knows that they are relentless campaigners against all those who abuse human rights – from allies (the US) to competitors (China) to brutal dictatorships (they’ll even support military action against them to protect human rights, eg Libya), to ourselves. They are the only party in our parliament that consistently stands for the human rights side of an argument. (Compare Labor and the Liberals kowtowing to China, and the Nationals on wheat to Saddam.)

The BDS campaign is not a Greens policy, and I haven’t looked into it in detail, but there’s nothing inherently anti-semitic about criticising the government of Israel or – precisely because it’s a democracy and therefore its government is more subject to pressure from its people – attempting to put economic pressure against it with the aim of defending human rights.

If you can only attack such a plan by relying on an asinine condemnathon demand, it’s a good sign that you’re not debating honestly.

UPDATE #2: The Weekend Australian‘s editorial gives the game away:

Ms Gillard has cited the new parliament as reason for breaking her promise on carbon tax. We can only hope her robust critique of the Greens’ economic ineptitude will steel her will against their calls to limit industry compensation in the tax package.

That’s what it’s all about. Making sure that big business gets to screw over the rest of us. That’s what it’s always really been about.