Perhaps it was the pig's head placed in the kosher section of a Johannesburg supermarket by anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions activists last week. Or maybe it was the denial of Jewish self-determination inherent in the stated goals of the BDS campaign. Whatever it was, something compelled Melissa Parke to rise in the Federal Parliament to "dispel some of the misunderstandings" about BDS, or in other words, to whitewash its all too evident anti-semitism.
In her attempt to distinguish between hatred for the Jews as a people and hatred for Jews as a people with a national home, the Labor Member for Fremantle relied on the views of former UN-official Richard Falk.
Falk is known as a "9/11 conspiracy theorist", and was denounced, including by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, for vile comments blaming the Boston terrorist attack on "the American global domination project" and "Tel Aviv."
So extreme are Falk's views that the Palestinian Authority requested that he step down from his position as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian Territories because they considered him to be a partisan of Hamas and opposed his deeply offensive references to the Holocaust.
To build the case for BDS, Parke also quotes Peter Slezak, of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network. Just hours after a bus-load of Jewish primary school children were threatened in Sydney with having their "throats cut" and were subjected to shouts of "Heil Hitler" and "all Jews must die", Slezak declared that "Jews are fair game because of their influence and militant support for crimes of [the] Jewish state." Slezak insists that he meant Jews were "only" fair game for criticism, but this is belied by the timing and context of his comment.
The dishonesty and extremism of what Parke calls the "official BDS campaign" is evident.
The founder of the BDS movement, Omar Barghouti, claims Palestinians have a "right to resistance by any means, including armed resistance," and denies that the Jews are a people or have a connection to the land of Israel.
Other leading figures in the movement have openly asserted the campaign's purpose of destroying Israel. As'ad Abu Khalil stated that "justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the State of Israel," while Ahmed Moor put it in ever plainer terms, asserting that "BDS does mean the end of the Jewish State."
Parke's speech in support of BDS is symptomatic of the same psychosis for which Richard Falk has been roundly condemned. It places all the ills of the Middle East, if not the world, at the feet of Israel.
Parke even goes so far as to link the scourge of militant Islam with the actions of Israel and implies that BDS is part of the solution. What connection Israel has to the marauding jihadists consuming much of Africa and the Middle East, Parke does not tell us. Israel's only involvement in the Syrian tragedy that spawned IS and which has claimed, in just a few years, far more lives than the Arab-Israeli conflict has in over six decades, is to smuggle wounded Syrian civilians across the border and heal them free of charge in Israeli hospitals.
Every party in the Federal Parliament and in the State or Territory parliaments has rejected the anti-Israel BDS campaign, and leaders of the Coalition, Labor and the Greens have denounced BDS publicly more than once.
More importantly, Australians have shown no tolerance at all for the fringe groups that picket chocolate shops, university centres that try to exclude Israeli academics, or local councils that seek to spend ratepayers' money on anti-Israel crusades.
Parke's public endorsement of a campaign that is at best dishonest and at worst racist, will disgust all people of goodwill who support a Palestinian State alongside Israel, something that BDS staunchly opposes. It should also serve as a sharp reminder that we mustn't be taken in by self-appointed advocates for human rights like Parke and Falk. Too often they are found attempting to divert our eyes to the actions of Israel, a liberal democracy with a vibrant tradition of internal debate and dissent. All the while the voiceless victims of egregious crimes elsewhere are ignored, because for Melissa Parke, they just don't make it on to her ideological radar.
Peter Wertheim is the executive director and Alex Ryvchin is the public affairs director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the peak representative body of the Australian Jewish community.