Former Labor national president Warren Mundine has launched a blistering attack on the party, saying its move to ban sponsored trips to Israel is “verging on anti-Semitic’’ and is “sickening to watch”.
Mr Mundine admonished the party’s leadership, saying NSW Labor was at risk of becoming a fringe party over its hardline approach to the only Middle East democracy.
“It is an illogical, verging on anti-Semitic approach,” he said.
“We do not do this to other countries. Name another country that the Labor Party bans people from going to? There are none.
“What is the difference with this country? The only difference is that they are Jewish, and I just find that quite sickening that a party that I was president of would move down that road.”
Speaking ahead of the NSW Labor conference, which starts on February 13, Mr Mundine, the chairman of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, said he was “disgusted” by the move to ban Labor politicians from visiting Israel if their trips have been funded by Jewish organisations, The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, and the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies.
The NSW ALP international relations policy committee chairman Michael Forshaw told The Australian yesterday that 39 resolutions had been received concerning Israel and Palestine, compared with 17 resolutions dealing with other international issues, such as the Syrian war, the Myanmar junta, Paris terror bombings, China free trade and foreign aid.
There were none on Saudi Arabia or Iran.
There are moves to recognise Palestinian statehood and to boycott products from Israel that originate in settlement areas, and many concerning banning trips to Israel while Benjamin Netanyahu is Prime Minister.
The move by Labor is partly driven by political motivations to secure the vote from Muslim communities in marginal southwest Sydney seats.
“In politics you understand these things, but there is a moral line that you do not cross,” Mr Mundine said.
“The Labor Party in NSW is speeding across that line.
“They are not only walking or stepping, they are rushing across it for pure political reasons, and it’s sickening to watch.”
Mr Mundine said Labor MPs should remember that Israel was the only democracy in the region with a parliament of Jewish, Arab, Christian and Muslim politicians sitting within a vast region of problematic countries.
“I find it quite disgusting, actually,’’ he said.
“It is almost burgeoning into this BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) system of anti-Semitism,’’ he said.
Members of the pro-Palestinian group include federal MPs Jason Clare, Sam Dastyari and Tony Burke, with former NSW premier Bob Carr a high-profile advocate.
NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley supports a compromise solution to spend equal time in Palestinian territories as in Israel.
Federal leader Bill Shorten has refused to endorse this policy, trusting MPs to form their own judgments about their travel arrangements.