|Look who's coming to Oz – the Electronic Intifada founder|
"The fact that Ms Easson’s company, Probity International Pty Ltd, is lobbying for Elbit is almost certain to lead to anger within the ALP from those who have taken trips organised by the AILD.
Ms Easson has been locked in a brutal fight inside the Labor Party with former foreign minister Bob Carr over policy towards Israel. Ms Easson wants the ALP to retain its bipartisan support for Israel while Mr Carr wants a deadline for Israel to cease its expansion of settlements in the West Bank and to return to negotiations with the Palestinians.
Elbit is one of Israel’s largest manufacturers of bombs, mortars, cyber warfare systems and drones and much of its ordnance was used in the 2014 war with Gaza. On its website, Elbit says one of its products — the Soltam Spear — has “unprecedented lethality."Sure enough, again according to Lyons in a follow-up report, former Australian foreign minister Bob Carr is on the trail, fuming that'
"It would be common sense for party leaders to say the dialogue must present an independently audited account of its fundraising. The party’s credibility with literally hundreds of thousands of voters with Arabic backgrounds is at stake."Lyons further reported:
'Ms Easson denies Elbit has ever made a donation to AILD. But Mr Carr said any connection to Elbit was “a shameful look — arms dealers, civilian deaths, the electronic fence”.'And Israel bashing ALP member of the federal Parliament is reported as saying:
“Given the significant numbers of ALP members who are apparently being taken on these trips to Israel, it is a concern not to know who is providing the funds, particularly where there is a person associated with an Israeli weapons manufacturer on the AILD committee."But former Queensland premier Peter Beattie, patron of the New South Wales branch of AILD is quoted thus:
“I am not interested in a petty side argument between the warring factions in the ALP over Israel and Palestine”(These reports are behind a paywall.)
Meanwhile, AILD, in response to what Lyons reports, states:
"The AILD is not now, or has ever sought to be funded by Elbit or any other defence company, whether Israeli or Australian.
The Mission of the AILD is to build bridges between the Australian and Israeli Labor Parties across the spectrum of shared values such as workers rights, women’s status, gay rights, multiculturalism and shared understanding of a two state solution to the Israel Palestine conflict.
As part of our activities we arrange tours to Israel and Palestine and provide subsidies to those who cannot afford to travel to the region. Our funding comes from private donations sought from the Australian Jewish and pro-Israel Non-Jewish community.
To insinuate that because 1 of our supporters and activists is a consultant to a company that has a contract with Elbit, so AILD must be involved is both absurd and extremely poor journalism. It smacks of an opinion in search of a story in order to smear AILD and it’s democratic right to actively and openly champion a peaceful resolution of two nations for two peoples within the ALP.
There are those who seek to impose their own one-sided view on Israel Palestine within the ALP, and ban subsidised trips to Israel and Palestine. The AILD will never subscribe to impose totalitarian controls on what any individual wishes to see or do in their quest for understanding in this and any place in the world.".And Dr Colin Rubenstein, executive director of The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), which sends journalists on fact-finding trips to Israel, declares:
“As noted by AILD, their program of sending union officials to the Middle East is not and has never been funded by Elbit or any other arms manufacturer, regardless of the indirect connection of one AILD director, Mary Easson, to that company, and no matter what John Lyons chose to imply ...
The only real news story here is that there is an organised campaign, as we have seen in the NSW ALP recently, to try and stop Australian political and opinion leaders going to the Middle East, meeting leaders and experts from both sides and learning the truth about the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian issue. This campaign is determined to seize on anything, however tenuous, to try and discredit such trips, despite how much they have enriched the debate in this country. Unfortunately, Australian journalist John Lyons seems all too willing to lend his pen to this campaign.”