All Australian Members of Parliament are required to publicly declare their outside "interests" to try to limit actual or perceived conflicts of interests....
...[some] declarations provide an insight into personal passions.
This is certainly the case with two Australian Green senators:
- NSW Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, who is well-known for her outspoken anti-Israel views but will be retiring at the next election after losing pre-selection, and
- Victorian Greens Senator Janet Rice, who, in the past 12 months, appears to be following in her footsteps.
Among other interests, parliamentarians are required to declare donations of more than $300 to any organisation over a single calendar year. In the past 12 months, Senators Rhiannon and Rice have declared five such donations to a range of groups and individuals that actively advocate for boycotts against Israel, refuse to acknowledge Palestinian aggression against Israelis and accuse Israel of "massacring" Palestinians.
Both senators have also travelled to Israel and the Palestinian territories in the past 12 months - although surprisingly neither declared it as sponsored travel.
In April 2017, Senator Rice was taken to the region by the Australian Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN). She told the Senate that she had spoken to "Israelis and Palestinians, people who were working to end the illegal military occupation of Palestine by Israel and remove the illegal Israeli settlements", including representatives from the New Israel Fund and B'Tselem.
...During her trip, Senator Rice also met with Issa Amro, the founder of Hebron-based Youth Against Settlements, and an activist who has been arrested by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority on incitement and other charges.
Since returning from that trip, Senator Rice declared two relevant donations: one to Hebron-based Youth Against Settlements and the other to her host, APAN.
In July last year, Senator Rhiannon visited Israel on a "self-funded fact-finding trip to Palestine" assisted by Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA and EuroPal. She too did not declare any sponsored travel, but she did deliver polemics to the Senate upon her return.
In the harshest - and most misleading - terms, she denounced Israel for committing "extreme crimes" in Gaza "regardless of the 2005 so-called withdrawal", for "crippling" the Palestinian economy and for the "destruction and desecration of sites holy to the Palestinians", among a litany of other accusations.
Senator Rhiannon - who has been Parliament's most dedicated Israel basher for the duration of her political career - declared three donations to Palestinian-related causes over the past 12 months.
In April, she made a donation to the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN). While it may have an innocuous sounding name, IPAN counts among its members groups that actively support the flawed Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
And recently, rather than condemning Hamas' incitement on the border of Gaza and Israel, IPAN promoted an event with the tagline "Australia has been doing arms deals with the Israeli government while the Palestinians are attacked".
In June 2017, she declared a donation to "Peter Manning for Palestine Project". It is unclear what exact project this donation was for. Manning is a former ABC journalist and now key Palestinian advocate. He is described as the chair of the BDS Forum, convenor of the Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine and a member of APAN.
In 2016, Senator Rhiannon gave a gushing review of Manning's "stunning" book called Janet Venn-Brown: A life in art". The book centres on Janet Venn-Brown, the one-time fiancée of Wael Zuaiter, a Palestinian terrorist who was allegedly assassinated by the Mossad in Italy in 1972.
...Senator Rhiannon and Senator Rice's registers of interest provide a key insight into... the Greens' rhetorical support for so-called progressive organisations which openly demonise Israel - the Middle East's only fully functioning democracy ...