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Bouquets for Melissa Parke

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Earlier this month I wrote an article for Mondoweiss on the story of Jewish-Israeli academic Dr Marcelo Svirsky and his 300 km walk from Sydney to Canberra. The purpose of his walk was to gather support for a BDS Petition against Israel.

The petition was presented to The Australian Parliament and tabled on Monday night. The next day I did something I have never done before: I sent flowers to an elected representative of Parliament. The recipient was Melissa Parke (ALP, Freemantle WA). Parke spoke to the petition on Monday. She was brave and principled. I wanted to show my gratitude to her, and thus the flowers.

Speaking to the petition Parke implored the Parliament to find a solution to end the state-sanctioned violence many Palestinians are currently suffering. She said, “… we know that violence is not the solution. We affirm that the rockets fired from Gaza into Israel are an illegal response to Israel’s actions. But it does beg the question: what then is the alternative to the vicious cycle of bloodshed we have witnessed in recent months?”

Suggesting the BDS as a way forward Parke continued, “… nonviolent means of protest are and must be seen as legitimate. It is notable that both Israel and the US approve of boycotts and sanctions against other such states such as Iran and Brunei, so why is it objectionable to boycott a state that is,among other things, committing repeated grave violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention as Israel does with its illegal settlements?”

Echoing the frustration felt by many Parke also said, “If we are genuinely concerned about national and global security as well as international justice, we, along with other nations, including the US, should be insisting that Israel do its part to lay the groundwork for peace by, among other things, ending its illegal occupation, settlement construction and the Gaza blockade. Until this happens BDS is a perfectly acceptable form of protest and I congratulate Dr Marcelo Svirsky for his courageous walk and his brave stand.”

Although her speech was a cri de coeur for common sense and common decency it was remarkable for its uniqueness. No Australian politician, except Parke, would deign to speak up for Palestinian suffering in Parliament. In Australia, as in the US, most politicians are just ventriloquist dolls for the pro-Israel lobby. The same old dross is spouted. For example, “Israel has the right to defend itself” or “the bonds between Israel and (insert country here) are unbreakable” But Monday night Parke walked into no man’s land. The brickbats will inevitably follow as our Australian versions of Haim Saban and Jeffrey Goldberg try to take her down. But Melissa, you don’t deserve the brickbats, you deserve bouquets. You are, to my knowledge, the first elected representative in an Anglo-phone country to speak up for a peaceful way to get Israel to start behaving itself. Thank you.

John Salisbury

John Salisbury lives in Melbourne, Australia.

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7 Responses

  1. pabelmont on October 30, 2014, 12:05 pm

    Fabulous. Did anyone in Australia hear this beautiful speech? She seems to speak from behind a sparsely peopled table. Were there people opposite her in a large hall?

    Like others, she spoke some unhelpful formulas. she called (merely) for an end to settlement construction. Even though, as she also said, all the settlements are illegal. No bell went off in her head at the insufficiency of her demand.

    Anyone want to start a pool for who can guess the year in which a member of Congress (USA) or Member of Parliament (other anglophone nation) will FIRST call for a roll-back of the settlement program, with full removal of all settlers and full removal (dismantlement) of all settlement buildings? Is 2020 too early a guess?

  2. Kay24 on October 30, 2014, 12:47 pm

    Great speech. Nice to know that Australia has leaders, like the UK, who will stand up and criticize Israel’s crimes.

    Something we all miss in our Congress.

  3. Vacy on October 30, 2014, 6:14 pm

    A superb tribute and bouquet to Melissa Parke’s principled and lone stand on BDS . Many Australian politicians – Liberals, Labor, Greens and Independents were approached to speak to Svirsky’s BDS petition, and not one, apart from Parke, possessed the integrity to dare utter a word of support. Such is the Zionist stranglehold on Australian politics. I am reminded of the the maverick integrity of Haneen Zoabi.

  4. Pixel on October 30, 2014, 11:37 pm


    You’re a class act.

  5. bilal a on October 31, 2014, 8:35 am

    Bibi confesses to JFK and makes a threat”

    The famously combative Israeli Prime Minister went on to say:

    “When there are pressures on Israel to concede its security, the easiest thing to do is to concede. You get a round of applause, ceremonies on grassy knolls, and then come the missiles and the tunnels.”

    Bibi, who spent many years in the United States, is surely cognizant of what his “grassy knoll” reference connotes. You can argue it was just an infelicitous phrase, or that Bibi was referring to himself, not Obama. Maybe so. But what if, say, an Iranian official, even a low-ranking one, had said such a thing? The uproar would be deafening. And so the question must be asked: was Bibi threatening the President of the United States?

  6. David Doppler on October 31, 2014, 11:51 am

    Thanks for this link bilal a. Just to set the quote marks straight and put it in context for MW readers, the link (well worth reading) is to Justin Raimondo’s post today at, “The Chickenshit Lobby is Mad as Hell.” And everything other than bilai a’s headline is quoted from Raimondo, while the two sentences quoted above, were quoted in Raimondo’s piece from Netanyahu’s speech at the Knesset. So the question asking “was Bibi threatening the President of the United States?” is Raimondo’s. And a very good question it is, entirely consistent with Netanyahu’s over-the-top heavy-handedness.

    It would be nice to see this question explored by the press, as I hope it is being by our security forces. Question for Jen Psaki, for example: when Prime Minister Netanyahu referred to “grassy knolls” in his speech to the Knesset about resisting pressure to sacrifice Israeli security, are there concerns he was making a veiled reference to the assassination of President Kennedy, who had pressured the Israelis to allow inspections of Dimona, causing David Ben Gurion to resign? Or on 24 hour cable, What about that “grassy knoll” reference by Netanyahu, in rejecting the Obama administrations pressure to make progress on peace? What’s the context there? [e.g., Mordechai Vanunu; “In July 2004 Vanunu claimed in the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper that the State of Israel was complicit in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He claimed there were ‘near-certain indications’ that Kennedy was assassinated in response to ‘pressure he exerted on Israel’s then head of government, David Ben-Gurion, to shed light on Dimona’s nuclear reactor'”

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