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Too much trauma, not enough compassion

The Greens should learn from their mistakes, take the lead and push for collaboration between Jews and Palestinians as steps to conflict resolution.
Larry Stillman
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Jenny Leong Youtube screengrab

NSW Greens MP Jenny Leong speaking in Parliament in January (Youtube screen capture)

Published: 12 February 2024

Last updated: 21 March 2024

The Greens should learn from their mistakes, take the lead and push for collaboration between Jews and Palestinians as steps to conflict resolution.

I write this out of a continuing sense of grief, trauma and mourning since October 7. Every day brings more tragic news, and locally, we now we face an explosion of a local proxy war of hate against all and any deemed to be Zionist, such as the doxing of 600 Jewish  creatives in a collective statement from a range of activists, including Jewish anti-Zionists. We also know of threats to people, and I also have have been on the receiving end of a vicious verbal attack for my allegedly Zionist crimes.

The hatred propagated by Clementine Ford, Matt Chun and others through social media is despicable because it is entirely destructive to social cohesion. I await condemnation of such things from leading Palestinians organisations and known Jewish anti-Zionist organisations.

There has been none, because apparently, Zionists of whatever stripe are equally culpable, and second, tit-for-act acts as revenge against harassment or firings of Palestine supporters is justified.

I also write this because of the failure of local peak Jewish organisations to offer any criticism of the Israeli government and instead, they have engaged in inflammatory speech against supporters of Palestine.  This has angered many people.

Yes, people are angry, extreme, and they fear or claim genocide of Palestinians. This is why, much to Ittay Flesher’s consternation, some Greens politicians do not appear to have been forthright enough in condemning Hamas violence on October 7. 

Leong is clearly humiliated and I can only hope that she reads about Jewish history.

Many people (including politicians) see an unremitting policy of war against Palestinians. Genocidal statements have been made by Israeli leaders. People on the left, including me, are in opposition to Israel’s retribution that goes beyond self-defence against Hamas’s criminal behaviour.

Because of this, Jewish grief and trauma over the pogrom on October 7 cannot be used as an excuse to ignore what Israel has done for decades and now does even more violently. This is not how democracies should behave.

But how this public anger manifests itself can be crude and at times, ignorant, conspiratorial in nature, and hurtful to Jews.

Yet Ittay Flescher has focussed too much on our sense of hurt and not enough on the reality of a war where Israel is the dominant player. While we weep for the hostages, and mourn the dead, any Palestinian will tell you of the thousands unfairly held often without trial or sham, military trials, in Israel prisons, often tortured and beaten up, terrorised by settler extremists. They see whole families blown up in Gaza, the numbers far in excess of any terrorist act conduct by Palestinians against Israelis. This is what the world and the Greens see. 

So how are we to judge people who go over the top with their rhetoric? There is the foremost example of Jenny Leong, a NSW Green and conviction politician who came out with her appalling words about Jewish/Zionist tentacles and infiltration in this country.  

Of course, she should never have come with those words in the first place. She came out with a fulsome apology. She is clearly humiliated and I can only hope that she reads about Jewish history and pays more attention to Jews other than hard-line anti-Zionists.

What of Greens MP for Richmond Gabrielle de Vetri, when she was reluctant to admit the right of Israel to exist in a radio interview? She, too, appears to have learned her lesson and in fact she has written to me that she supports federal Greens policy which condemns Hamas and supports a ceasefire and supports two states established on human rights principles. Thus, the protests in Parliament for a ceasefire.

Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi
Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi

The anger also explains the fiery rhetoric of Senator Mehreen Faruqi at protests, but she, too, said in Parliament, on October 16, that she has “profound sense of sadness for the innocent civilians who have lost their lives in Gaza and Israel. No civilian should be the target of the violence of war. There is no place anywhere for racism, for discrimination, for antisemitism or for Islamophobia”.

In fact, the most eloquent statement as far as I am concerned, one that I assume Ittay would support, has been that offered by Senator Jordon Steele-John, who has the Greens’ foreign affairs portfolio. On October 16, in the Senate, he said “the very same commitment to compassion, to honesty, to peace and to justice required of us in response to the vile attacks of Hamas requires us to call out the war crimes being committed by the state of Israel right now in Gaza.

Ittay Flescher is right about the lack of local public solidarity with progressive Israelis and locals unless they declare themselves anti-Zionist Jews.

“[It is] an act of collective punishment and a forced population transfer that would constitute one of the most significant humanitarian disasters and contraventions of international law in the 21st century.” 

However, Ittay Flescher is absolutely right about one thing, and that is the lack of local public solidarity with progressive Israelis and locals unless they declare themselves anti-Zionist Jews according to a narrow definition. This is warped thinking.

The joint action by Jews and Palestinians together against the Gaza War and Israeli apartheid (with a recent conference of 1000 people  from Standing Together in Haifa), is opposed by the BDS movement outside of Israel because it is allegedly legitimising apartheid and the Gaza War! It’s idiotic politics. 

The Greens and others on the left – including Labour supporters of Palestine, should take the lead and push for collaboration between Jews of whatever stripe and Palestinians as important steps to conflict resolution.

About the author

Larry Stillman

Dr Larry Stillman is a member of the J-Greens, a graduate of Hebrew University, and semi-retired from Monash University. He writes on his own behalf.


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