Fiona Byrne (also pictured, below right), the present mayor of Marrickville, and aspiring state legislator (she’s the Green Party candidate for Marrickville) boasts that among those who have sent statements in support of the Council’s move is Michael Pearson, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of New South Wales. Uh huh. Big deal.
This is what Mr Albanese thinks of the Council’s venture into the world of BDS:
‘As part of Leonard Cohen’s successful world comeback tour in 2009 he included a concert at Ramat Gan stadium near Tel Aviv in his itinerary.
For that he was condemned by some activists for promoting a cultural exchange in Israel. Never mind the fact that proceeds from this concert were directed to the “Fund for Reconciliation, Tolerance and Peace”.
Groups which directly benefitted included the “Parents Circle”, made up of both Palestinian and Israeli parents who have lost children in the Middle East conflict with the aim of promoting peace and reconciliation.
Cohen described the concert as “representing a triumph over the inclination of the heart to despair, revenge and hatred”.
The decision of the Greens Party controlled Marrickville Council to “boycott all goods made in Israel and any sporting, academic, government or cultural exchanges”, is unfortunate and misguided at best.
The Council goes even further and suggests that any organisation or company with links to Israel should be boycotted also. It is not clear how much ratepayer funds will be expended on this research.
It is doubtful how fair dinkum the Greens Party Councillors are, given that the resolution carried a month ago included a third point, that they would write to local Parliamentary representatives “seeking their support at the State and Federal level” and the Greens Party Mayor has not actually got around to sending the correspondence.
It’s not as if there are no policy challenges or local issues facing the Greens Party Mayor of Marrickville. The Council is in the process of laying off staff, the Mayor voted to close down Marrickville West Public School’s child care centre which provides vital support to disadvantaged families and the Greens have opposed a series of modest affordable housing proposals.
This ill thought out attempt to challenge the State of Israel through a single Local Council in the inner west of Sydney is clumsy and counterproductive.
I believe that engagement between peoples promotes understanding and tolerance and is worthwhile whether it be between national leaders or student exchanges....
Any lasting resolution to the Middle East conflict cannot be at the expense of either Palestinians or Israelis. Surely contact and engagement between Palestinians and Israelis is a precondition for a peaceful settlement.
If simplistic slogans were enough to resolve this issue it would have become an historical footnote of the last century.
Australians are making a contribution to global tolerance by the way that we have developed as a multicultural society. The inner west of Sydney is a microcosm of what is desirable in the international community – a place where neighbours live in harmony regardless of religion or race.
As it stands all those who attended the recent concerts of Leonard Cohen are in violation of the decree from the Marrickville Mayor made on their behalf – lucky Cohen didn’t try to perform at the Enmore Theatre!’ (http://www.anthonyalbanese.com.au/file.php?file=/news/KOFNEFDWAPJALYSMRPZYJKXY/index.html)By contrast, Fiona Byrne blusters thus:
“This decision to institute the BDS in Marrickville is well within Council’s jurisdiction. Every day as an organisation we make decisions about who we will or will not do business with as we spend ratepayers’ money to provide community services,” she blusters.
“The BDS is not an anti-Israel resolution. It is about identifying institutions that directly support the occupation of Palestine, and choosing not to do business with them.
BDS is not a fringe movement. Its impact is growing as the Israeli government continues to contravene international law. Growing numbers of prominent Australian unions back the BDS ... as do most Palestinian Civil Societies, and a growing number of Jews and churches around the world....
At a hands-on level, Marrickville Council’s support of the BDS means taking a close look at and making ethical and informed choices about which businesses and institutions we engage with. The boycott of products and services has an immediate local impact, given that Council is a regular purchaser of goods and services on behalf of the community....
Many Australians remember how international boycotts and sanctions of South African goods in the 1980s helped to bring an end to apartheid. It is no accident that Archbishop Desmond Tutu is today one of the most outspoken critics of Israeli policies in Palestine and one of the principal advocates of the BDS movement....
Marrickville Council supporting the BDS is a practical measure for our local area to communicate this to any institution which supports the occupation of Palestine.”Unfortunately, Ms Byrne seemed shy of appearing on Radio 2GB to discuss the Council’s decision. So the broadcast proceeded without her.
Have a listen – it’s a corker! The programme's host, a station employee who’s spent time in the region, a Jewish communal leader in Sydney and others all pour scorn on what one interviewee calls “The Mouse That Roared in Marrickville”.
(Hat tip: reader Shirlee)
There’s also a petition against the Council’s move: