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In defence of the Greens’ policy on Israel Palestine

Larry Stillman & David Zyngier
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Published: 16 June 2023

Last updated: 5 March 2024

Jewish Greens LARRY STILLMAN AND DAVID ZYNGIER argue their party’s new policy on Israel and Palestine is fair and realistic.

The The Jewish Independent editorial Australian Greens jettisoning Israel won’t help Palestinians asserts that the new Greens Resolution on Justice in Palestine and Israel is a resolution against Israel. While agreeing that the Palestinians “are victims of an inequitable and tragic situation” and that “it is to be expected that in the context of Israel’s far-right coalition government … the Greens would harden their support for Palestinians and their concerns about Israeli policies”.

We commend The Jewish Independent for acknowledging that “most of the 31 points and 16 steps enumerated in this extensive policy would be endorsed by those on the left of the spectrum in Israel, and by many Diaspora Jews”.

As Jewish Greens, criticising Israel’s ethno-nationalist politics does not mean that you cannot take pride in its renascent people and culture in the historic land, as Jews do. Our emotions, lives and destinies, and that of others in J-Greens have been tied up with Israel for many decades.

Yet the situation is not one of equal conflict between peoples that requires bi-partisanship. Israel is in a position of power over another nation, not the other way around. The security imperative (the “existential crisis”) has been used as a mantra to justify the continuing and rampant oppression of Palestinians. Violent responses by Israel or Palestinians are not supported. Thus, the Greens “reject and condemn all forms of violence, especially against civilians, whether perpetrated by a state, organisations or individuals” and “the particular impact on children living under military occupation and exposed to conflict”. 

The tragedy is that we have probably reached the reality of one-state and the end of the state of Israel as a Zionist Jewish democratic republic.

We address some major points of criticism here.


Jewish Greens are not “some kind of talisman against an accusation of antisemitism”. J-Greens independently and forthrightly developed its own policy on this issue for the Greens. So did Greens for Palestine. We negotiated through Senator Jordon Steele-John to establish consensus.  


Jews may find the term apartheid emotional, distressing and hurtful, but how else is the Israeli policy of “hafradah” (separation) to be interpreted other than separate and unequal communities, i.e. institutionalised apartheid? While many progressive Jews were reluctant to use the word years ago, today, it means NOT a carbon copy of the racial situation in South Africa, but a system of deliberate inequality as defined by the United Nations, within the Occupied Territories, where Palestinians have no equal rights. As stated in the Greens resolution, apartheid is a term used by Amnesty and Human Rights Watch, but also by Israeli human rights organisations B’Tselem and Yesh Din.  

Boycotts Divestment and Sanctions

The editorial misunderstands the Greens policy on BDS. A specific Greens Resolution on Boycotts, Divestments & Targeted Sanctions has called for BDS against officials and military who are part of the regimes of Myanmar, Iran, and Russia. After over half a century of occupation by Israel of the Occupied Territories, people are deeply frustrated. The Resolution on Justice in Palestine and Israel concerns only contact with government, military and companies “complicit in the violation of Palestinian human rights”. There is no mention of academia and no mention of cultural or sports boycotts. The policy also expresses support for “progressive political and civil society movements within the state of Israel and in the Palestinian Territories”.

IHRA Definition of Antisemitism

The Greens have opposed the adoption and enforcement of the IHRA, but not the definition of antisemitism itself. If those 39 words beginning with “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews …”, had not been linked the to six contentious examples which focus on criticism of Israel, there would not be a problem for the Greens, or many others, including Jewish academics, or the  New Israel Fund . Even the late Dr Mark Baker, saw this problem, stating that the IHRA “would immediately have Jewish lobby groups ... seize upon one of the six sections … I think it is extremely counterproductive.” The Australian Greens have also published a Greens position paper written by J-Greens which deals with antisemitism on the left.

State or States?

The editorial claims that the new policy has abandoned bi-partisanship and “has nothing to say about Israel’s right to peace, security, or statehood”. The tragedy is that we have probably reached the reality of one-state and the end of the state of Israel as a Zionist Jewish democratic republic, and indeed an independent state of Palestine, “from the river to the sea”.

The Greens policy thus states that it “recognises that Israel’s ongoing colonisation of Palestinian land is rendering a two-state solution unachievable” and the policy preamble clearly states that the Greens “aim to rectify injustice in ways that will allow both Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace, security and equality, exercising self-determination as described by the United Nations Charter”.

The idea of two separate republics is impossible to conceive in the geographically and ethnically balkanised situation that now exists.  Consequently, the Greens instead call for “international support to establish a joint healing process, based upon the principles of a truth and reconciliation commission”, as well as the “implementation of an international peacekeeping force” alongside full equality for all, and the prosecution of war crimes by either side.  In whatever arrangement emerges, equal human rights and security for all should be paramount. 

 We suggest that The Jewish Independent readers read the full policy, and consider it in light of 56 years of occupation, and the endless violence, dispossession and killing of innocent people.

Photo: Palestinian women on their way to cross Qalandia checkpoint between the West Bank and Jerusalem during Ramadan 2023 (EPA/Atef Safadi)

About the author

Larry Stillman & David Zyngier

Dr Larry Stillman is a member of the J-Greens, a graduate of Harvard and Hebrew Universities, and is now semi-retired from Monash University where he conducts research in the Faculty of IT. He blogs at www.webstylus.net. Dr David Zyngier is convenor of Jewish Greens Victoria. He is also an endorsed Greens local councillor in the city of Glen Eira and Associate Professor (Adj) at Southern Cross University. He is a former Jewish school principal and Monash University academic. He lived on kibbutz Lahav 1973 to 1975 and has been involved in progressive Jewish politics for over 50 years.

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

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