Open letter to the Greens about Israeli settlements and green-washing

An electric car company praised by some Greens members operates in the illegally occupied West Bank, Palestine.

The following open letter has been sent to every Greens MP in the country on August 10. Click here to sign the petition in support of the letter.

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The Greens have since their foundation been a party that supports justice and the rule of law. It is a party committed, at its very core, to universal human rights and international law.

The official policy for Israel/Palestine is to:

“[S]upport the rights of the Palestinian peoples to statehood through the creation of a viable state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel, based on the pre 1967 borders and the right of all peoples in the region to peace.”

Further; “The Australian Greens resolution on the matter makes clear our support for the rights and aspirations of both the Palestinian and the Israeli people to live in peace and security in their own independent, sovereign States. The ongoing injustices against the Palestinian people, including ongoing occupation of the Palestinian territories and the expropriation of Palestinian land and resources for Israeli settlements is unacceptable. The Greens are extremely critical of Israeli Government actions in this area.”

It is therefore with great dismay that we read comments in a recent interview by Greens candidate for Melbourne Cathy Oke about embracing Israeli electric car company, Better Place. Leader Christine Milne and Deputy Leader Adam Bandt have also made public statements suggesting that the environmental movement can learn a great deal from supposedly innovative Israeli policies in the areas of conservation and water management.

This is a concern on two fronts; first, Better Place operates in the illegally occupied West Bank and second, one of those running Better Place is a former General, under whose command the Israeli army carried out well-documented violations of Palestinian human rights in occupied Palestine. Better Place also operates in Australia.

If the Greens are to be true to their “core values”, then it is clear that they cannot support a company that boasts about its contribution to the environment and sustainability at the expense of international law and the human rights of Palestinians. This is the worst form of green-washing.

Better Place and a range of Israeli companies are part of a deliberate Israeli-government push to rebrand a country increasingly facing condemnation for racist and discriminatory policies in both Palestine and Israel itself against Palestinians and other minorities. This concerted effort, funded by the Israeli government and Zionist lobby groups and supporters worldwide, including in Australia, aims to soften the Jewish state’s image.

The Greens should not be seduced by this brazen attempt by Better Place and other companies to distract world attention by exploiting the good name of green energy.

We urge the party instead to remain true to its commitments, and focus on the need for effective international action to assist in the achievement of peace with justice for both Palestinians and Israelis.

Professor Stuart Rees AM, Chair Sydney Peace Foundation
Associate Professor Jake Lynch, Director of Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, Sydney University
Antony Loewenstein, independent journalist and author
Sonja Karkar, Founder – Women for Palestine
Moammar Mashni, Co-Founder – Australians for Palestine

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