Labor MP Michelle Ananda-Rajah addressed a meeting of the Zionism Victoria Executive on Thursday evening. The Member for Higgins discussed her recent trip to Israel, as well as Penny Wong’s announcement earlier this month that the Government would henceforth be referring to the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “Occupied Palestinian Territories”.
Reflecting on the trip, she described it as “a historic visit” as it was the first time the Speaker of the Australian Parliament had led a delegation to Israel.
The mission included open dialogue with numerous politicians at the Knesset with no subjects off limit, as well as visits to Be’er Sheva and otherIsraeli innovation hubs.
Michelle added, “There was no getting away from the protests. The protests were everywhere.”
The Federal politicians also spent a day in the Palestinian territories, meeting a delegation led by the Palestinian Prime Minister.
Hailing the visit as informative, immersive and instructive, she noted, ”You can’t really understand Israel unless you’ve been to Israel.”
Regarding the ALP’s attitude towards Israel, she said, “We’re genuinely concerned about stability,” citing the accelerated settlement activity this year -”the most in a decade, I understand.”
Stating “There is a genuine threat to the internal stability of Israel,” Michelle mused, “We can either be a friend of Israel that is complicit and enables and just tells the Government what it wants to hear. Or we can be a friend that is a trusted confidant, and we choose the latter.”
In terms of the impact of that decision, she said, ”I understand that this change in language upset a lot of the community … I think it makes the Jewish community, the Diaspora, feel like they don’t belong. I think it’s a challenge to a sense of belonging, which is something I can understand also as a migrant I guess. So I understand that, but that’s not the intent. That’s the ripple effect of that change of language.
”But the intent is to really give pause to the Israeli government and have them reconsider some of the choices that are being made right now.”