Di Natale backs Israeli apartheid

It must be something of a first for the Greens to get two positive articles in a row in the Australian Jewish News, one of the leading local proponents of the racist state of Israel. Certainly, Facebook followers of both the Greens and the AJN were somewhat shocked.

On 15 May, the AJN welcomed Richard Di Natale’s elevation to leader of the Greens. Its reasons were pretty blunt: Di Natale might be acceptable to supporters of Israeli war crimes because he had “personally spoken out passionately against [boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel] and rejected the pro-BDS position of his colleague Senator Rhiannon and two NSW Greens MPs”.

The same point was repeated in the very complimentary spread, “Di Natale in his own words”, which followed on 22 May. In this, Di Natale’s support for Israel went further, to the core of its racist nature: “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas must acknowledge Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, new Australian Greens leader Richard Di Natale says”.

It’s pretty obvious why the AJN would want to publicise this. Israel’s reputation needs constant shoring up because of its attacks on Palestinian human rights.

But what’s in it for Di Natale and the Greens?

In short, respectability and a further move to the centre, emphasising that the Greens can be relied upon not to rock the boat. Given the existence within the Greens of some support for the rights of the Palestinians, Di Natale has some ground to make up if he is to reposition the Greens on this issue.

When the AJN expresses concern that “One of Di Natale’s co-deputies, West Australian Senator Scott Ludlam described Israel as a ‘rogue state’ in 2010, while the other, Queensland Senator Larissa Waters, wrote on Facebook during Operation Protective Edge, ‘Tony Abbott must pressure the United States not to restock the Israeli armed forces’”, Di Natale must have an answer.

So it is not an accident that he has ditched support for Palestine in the harshest possible way – by instead supporting Israel’s “right” to be a racially/religiously pure “Jewish state”.

What this means is an acceptance of the racist nature of the state, and of the continued dispossession of the Palestinians.

This is no naive mistake. If more evidence were needed, Israel’s newly elected hard right government has made this meaning of “Jewish state” abundantly clear. In a recent speech, Tzipi Hotovely, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, vowed to continue building Jewish-onlysettlements across the West Bank. “This land is ours”, she said. “All of it is ours. We did not come here to apologise for that … We expect as a matter of principle of the international community to recognise Israel’s right to build homes for Jews in their homeland, everywhere”.

Having established his support for the fundamental injustice against the Palestinians – the foundation of an apartheid state on their land – Di Natale can then add some specifically “green” touches, expressing admiration for Israel’s advances in environmental technology, especially in the field of water saving.

This is a particularly appalling choice, as control of water resources is one of the means by which Israel daily assaults the Palestinians, diverting water from the remaining Palestinian territories to Israeli cities and settlements.

Di Natale has made it clear which side he is on.