On Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Plan to Recognise Jerusalem As the Capital of Israel

18 October 2018


“….Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history. We reflect on their past mistreatment. We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations—this blemished chapter in our nation’s history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future. We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians….”

— Excerpt from the Statement of Apology to the Aboriginal people of Australia by the Prime Minister of Australia, read in Parliament, 13 February 2008.   

“….we formally offer an apology. We say sorry to those Aboriginal people forcibly removed from their families through the first seven decades of the 20th century. In doing so, we reach from within ourselves to our past, those whose lives connect us to it, and in deep understanding of its importance to our future. We will be at our best today and every day if we pause to place ourselves in the shoes of others, imbued with the imaginative capacity to see this issue through their eyes with decency and respect….”

— Excerpt from the Statement of Apology to the Aboriginal people of Australia by the Leader of the Opposition, read in Parliament, 13 February 2008.

The above are indeed momentous statements in Australian history, made in reference to the Stolen Generations of the Aboriginal people of Australia but explicit also in their admission of past mistreatments and brutalities inflicted on the Aboriginal people by the European settler population and the misguided policies of successive Australian governments. 

To the watching world, while the statements pertain to a wholly domestic matter of Australia, it is nonetheless fair to expect that the very humane spirit behind them carry over to Australia’s foreign policy. Given the contrition expressed by the Australian government, it ought to be the foremost or at least prominent on the world stage, in opposing and protesting against any form of racial violence or ethnic cleansing, episodes of which are undeniable in Australia’s own history.

In this context, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s recent statement that Australia will consider recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is certainly not in keeping with the spirit of the apology made in the Australian parliament in February 2008 and is plainly wrong on so many levels.

Palestinians, for the past seven decades and even as we speak, are subjected to all kinds of unabated oppression, brutalities, ethnic cleansing and genocide. One cannot help but wonder if Mr Morrison thought the past treatment of the Aboriginal population of Australia was wrong but the current mistreatment of Palestinians at the hand of the Israeli government is perfectly acceptable. Recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital will only send the message that the Australian government has neither objection nor disapproval for Israeli policy towards Palestinians. 

Mr Morrison appears to be prepared to spit on the longstanding policy of previous Australian governments that the status of Jerusalem is subject to peace talks between Israel and Palestine.

He is contemptuous of the United Nations resolution that declares the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is null and void. 

He is contemptuous of the UN member states who voted for that resolution. 

He is contemptuous of the UN resolution that declares Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem are illegal since recognition of Jerusalem as the capital will only encourage more such settlements.

If Mr Morrison’s declaration was a by-election ploy, it is nothing but an insult to the Jewish voters of the constituency in question for lumping all of them as rabid Zionists who are unquestioningly enthusiastic about Israeli policy towards Palestinians. Such is not the case, however much the mainstream media try to give that impression. 

Mr Morrison goes on and on about supporting a two-state solution as if that will justify any talk about recognising Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. He has failed to see that a genuinely just two-state solution is now almost an impossibility given the facts on the ground in Palestine, all due to the actions of the Israeli occupying power who in the first place has never displayed any real desire to pursue a two-state solution. Even if a two-state solution is still possible, pandering to Israel by recognising Jerusalem as its capital will only render the possibility slimmer than what it is now. Mr Morrison does not seem to fathom the contradiction in his posturing. 

A just peace for all parties can only be brought about if sufficient international pressure can be brought to bear on the Israeli apartheid state. Such a pressure through a non-violent boycott, divest and sanctions campaign has proven to be effective in ending apartheid in South Africa and will be equally effective in the case of apartheid Israel. We therefore call on Mr Morrison and the Australian government to give their support to the international Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement if a genuinely just peace in the Middle East is truly their goal.    

The two aforementioned statements of apology were met by a standing ovation by the whole house after they were made in the Australian parliament that February day in 2008. Mr Morrison was certainly among the MPs giving that ovation. Implicit in those statements were the noble sentiments that all forms of racial violence are to be abhorred, no matter who the perpetrators and victims are, that might is not right and that the victims should not be blamed. Lest the words spoken that day were hollow meaningless ones to him, we urge Mr Morrison to live up to those sentiments and, to paraphrase the words used by his own party leader then, have the imaginative capacity to see the Palestinian-Israeli issue through Palestinian eyes with decency and respect for, just like the Aboriginal people of Australia of the past, the Palestinians of today are the blameless victims of racial violence and the might of the Israeli regime does not make its actions right. 

We, the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement of Malaysia call on Prime Minister Morrison to Do the Right Thing and shelve any plans by the Australian government to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. 

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, Malaysia (BDS Malaysia)

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