Friday, 21 June 2013

21/6 Split in Greens over Holocaust denier Fredrick Toben

Split in Greens over Holocaust denier Fredrick Toben
SPLITS have emerged in the Greens after leader Christine Milne refused to rebuke NSW MP David Shoebridge for his contact with Holocaust denier Fredrick Toben.
The Australian revealed yesterday Mr Shoebridge invited Dr Toben, who has served prison time in Australia and Germany for his Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic activities -- to a fundraising event for Gaza in April.
Mr Shoebridge said the invitation was rescinded when he became aware of Dr Toben's extreme views. Senator Milne yesterday attacked Dr Toben's views but offered no condemnation of Mr Shoebridge, placing her at odds with the Greens' lead Senate candidate in NSW, Cate Faehrmann, and her former communications director, Tim Hollo.
"The Australian Greens totally reject and condemn anti-Semitism . . . It is abhorrent. We condemn unreservedly Holocaust denials. It has no place anywhere in Australia society," Senator Milne said. "The horrendous consequences of the Holocaust are still being felt around the world and I am appalled that people like Dr Toben engage in fabrication of history and . . . spread and engage in anti-Semitism."
But she stopped short of condemning Mr Shoebridge.
The invitation was sent to Dr Toben after an email exchange with Shoebridge staffer Mark Riboldi, who sent a link to a March 25 debate in the NSW Legislative Council on a study trip to Israel that was hijacked by pro-Palestinian MPs. In the exchange Mr Riboldi agreed he would "definitely not" be bending to Jewish pressure.
Mr Hollo condemned Mr Riboldi's conduct: "As a proud Jewish Green, I have spent years convincing people it is wrong and offensive to conflate criticising Israel's government and armed forces with anti-Semitism. In this context, David Shoebridge's staffer's approach to Fredrick Toben is an inexcusable error that is completely out of step with Greens policies, values and action.
\"He should not be allowed to tarnish the great work done by the rest of the party." Ms Faehrmann apologised for the incident. "At the very least, it was appropriate that the invitation was rescinded, however Mr Toben should never have been invited in the first place. I apologise to the Jewish community unreservedly for any hurt and upset this error of judgment may have caused," she said.
Executive Council of Australian Jewy executive director Peter Wertheim said Mr Shoebridge was avoiding the real issue.
"This is not about the revocation of an invitation," he said. "It's about why those who claim to be supporting Palestinian rights consistently attract the enthusiastic support of people with an explicitly racist anti-Jewish agenda."
NSW Greens senator Lee Rhiannon, who has formerly backed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, declined to comment.

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